Intentionally scuffing or damaging your shoes is usually considered a crime among footwear collectors. And yet Sneakerheads, the new series from Complex Networks and Netflix, welcomed this sacrilege with open arms, all in the name of comedy. In the show, an exclusive pair of Air Jordans is battered, bruised, and dropped from a dizzying height.
To ensure the stunt generated meme-worthy, Jordan-size tears, series creator Jay Longino made sure to pick the perfect pair. "This has to be one of the hardest pairs to find out there, so we settled on the Oregon 4s," Longino says.
A never-released pair that surfaced first in 2012, the Oregon Air Jordan 4s were designed for the University of Oregon's Ducks football team, a squad with deep ties to Nike. The inside tag features the signature of designer Tinker Hatfield, a former athlete at the university, who dedicated the shoe to his late friend Doug McClain. Today the Oregon 4s can range from $5,000 to $12,000 USD on the resale market, depending on the size.
To complete the blasphemous act of tarnishing such a rare shoe, Longino began his quest as one does: with a plug at Flight Club.
"I called Shawn and asked if he could find me a pair of Oregon 4s. He told me he had a guy in Miami who has a pair of 10.5 or 11 who wants seven grand for them," he says. "I was like, 'Can he do any better than that?' And he was like, 'Well, if you pay in cash, he'll do it for six grand.'"
The production budget had already met its cap, and so the scramble began to try and find a way to make the deal happen. "I don't know what I had in cash, but long story short, the Super Bowl was the next day, and the Patriots were playing the Rams," Longino says. "I bet whatever I had on the Patriots winning, and they won. I got that cash, drove to Flight Club, and gave Shawn the $6,000. We FedEx-d it to some guy in Miami, and the next day a box showed up on set, two days before we were shooting."
In the third episode, "The Match," ex-sneakerhead Devin (Allen Maldonado), and Bobby (Andrew "King Bach'' Bachelor) join the rest of the ensemble on a mission to secure the Oregon 4s from Mark Wahlberg's house. Mark Wahlberg (actually played by Mark L. Walberg) asks Devin to join his weekly tennis match with NBA champion Paul Pierce and actor Michael Rapaport. Wahlberg believes the shoes are responsible for his winning streak and commits to wearing them every match despite the risk of damaging them. Significant damage ensues.
"Everyone on set and in production thought I was crazy," Longino says. "They were like, 'Well, we're going to fake it. We're not really going to scuff them, are we?' And I was like, 'Fuck yeah, we are.'"
As they scuffed the 4s on set with electric-slide-worthy footwork, even Inny Clemons, one of the executive producers who had been working on the project with Longino for about seven years, could barely handle what went down. "He literally screamed at the monitor on the first take of scuffing during the toe drag," Longino says with a laugh.
As if the scuffs weren't heartbreaking enough, the Oregon 4s were then tossed over a fence to a 200-foot drop. "It was fun," Longino continues. "We needed to watch everybody's reaction on set because I was like, Oh, that's the reaction I'm gonna get, and that's a good thing. You want people to have that 'Oh, shit!' moment."
Now safe and sound, the 4s are in Longino's possession in an undisclosed location with battle scars from the beating all over them. The pair may or may not be showing up in a raffle or giveaway in the near future. All we can say on that is: stay tuned.