A teenager with strawberry blond hair past his ears and a black and pink Louis Vuitton T-shirt designed by Stephen Sprouse stands in front of a shoe cubby in a walk-in closet in suburban Connecticut, looks into the camera, and says in a raspier-than-expected voice, “What’s up YouTube, it’s OneVeracity.”
The year was 2009, and the video was created to show off the creator’s black/pink Nike Air Yeezy 1s that match his T-shirt. The video is only 59 seconds long and briefly goes over the details of the hard-to-get sneakers. Since its release, it’s amassed over 110,000 views, which doesn’t seem big by today’s standards, but it wasn’t that common for sneaker content on YouTube during the 2000s. These days, the guy from the video goes by David.
David would go on to make a total of 131 videos, with his last being a review of triple white Adidas Ultra Boosts from May 2016. The videos encapsulate an era of sneakers and streetwear where Nike SB, Nike Basketball, and Karmaloop reigned supreme. You can watch him unbox a pair of “South Beach” LeBron 8s or “Blue Lobster” Nike SB Dunks, David aging through his teen years as the videos go on.
David says he was inspired by the likes of Kid Cudi and Pharrell to make his own T-shirt brand and promote it through the YouTube channel. Few remember the clothing line, while his videos remain nostalgic for many who got into collecting sneakers in the 2010s
“I wanted to start a T-shirt company and I’d seen Franalations do his DTB I believe clothing line. So I thought, ‘OK, who do I want to sell my T-shirts to? What’s my audience?’ And it was people buying Kidrobot, Bape. What do they like? Sneakers,” says David.
He’s since moved on with his life, and is still keeping up with what’s current in sneakers, but has left the YouTube gig behind in favor of a career that started in finance and ventured off into real estate
The 29-year-old has moved past his days of snapback hats, Jerk-era jeans, and neon sneakers for Amiri jeans, sports jackets, and Chelsea boots. But he looks back fondly of his days of being an early sneaker influencer. We caught up with David to talk about his days making sneaker videos as OneVeracity and what he’s up to now.
When did you get into sneakers?
My original getting into sneakers was in middle school. I started to skateboard. So my background was always in skate shoes. And so with that, I collected a pretty large, probably about 20 to 40 pairs or so of everything from Circas to Fallen, Etnies, everything, Adios, all of the classic skate brands. Got them from CCS and Zumiez and the local skate stores mostly. And then so that was the initial intro, nothing exclusive or anything like that. There’s two ways that I got more into the exclusive sneaker culture, if you will. The first was during freshman year I went to California and I did all those California vlogs.
And one of the ones that I always went to and I always revisited and still do is Jack’s Surfboards. I went there and wanted to get a pair of Nike SBs. It was 2007, and I got a pair of the Dr. Feelgoods and still have them. I have a deadstock pair as well. I got those and that was my first pair of Nike SBs. And then the second way was after freshman year of high school. My first concert ever was the Glow in the Dark tour. This is really what started my whole transformation to getting really into sneakers and streetwear.
Glow in the Dark tour was Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D, Rihanna and Kanye. That’s how I first found out about Billionaire Boys Club through Pharrell wearing the T-shirt on stage. Then I got into Kanye and his style back then, obviously Bape was also hugely popular. So my first pair of Bapes I got sophomore year as a Christmas present. And then that really just cascaded from there. Got really into Billionaire Boys Club, Bape, buying various Bapes. And then when the Yeezys came out, that was something that I had to absolutely have. And the funny story behind that is back then they didn’t actually resell for anything near what something does now. I got scammed the first time I tried to buy the Blinks, but I ended up getting my money back.
And then I bought them, I believe it was, my memory fades me a little bit, but I believe it was from Flight Club I want to say, or a similar legitimate sneaker reselling place for, I want to say, $750. Somewhere between $750 and$1,000. I already had a pretty good sneaker collection. And then starting the YouTube videos. I wanted to start a T-shirt company and I’d seen Franalations do his DTB I believe clothing line. So I thought, “OK, who do I want to sell my T-shirts to? What’s my audience?” And it was people buying Kidrobot, Bape. What do they like? Sneakers. What did Franalations do? He did sneaker reviews, then marketed to his audience. So I started it, one because I love sneakers, but also because I thought it’d be a good way to market to my target audience. I wanted to build up a following and then sell to them.
I did my first video, filmed it. It was only a minute long on the black/pink Yeezys. As everybody knows I have that sneaker wall behind me. It just blew up from there, because there really wasn’t that much in the way of competition. My videos were shot differently. I mean, honestly, they were shot by my mom, and I wasn’t just holding it in front of a laptop screen, that was actually shot with somebody moving the camera around. It differentiated me. Having the wall of sneakers promised that there’d be more to come.
Did you expect it to take off or you just thought, “Hey, I’m just going to put this online and see what happens”?
I think my goal was 5,000 subscribers before I launched the clothing line. But I didn’t mention that or anything. It certainly didn’t go viral by today’s standards, but back then it wrapped up a few thousand views and I was ecstatic. So I was thinking, “What’s the next video?” I hoped that it would be successful, but I certainly didn’t go with the expectation of that, and I was surprised by how that one video especially just really took off in the beginning.
So it takes off and then were you just like, “OK, now I’m dedicated to this”?
Yeah, I mean I was deep into the whole sneaker/streetwear culture then, so it was really a fun thing for me to do. I would’ve been buying the shoes anyways. And one thing I think that’s, I guess, part of me that’s important is I still have all my sneakers. I’ve never sold any of them, and I never traded any of them. I would just buy them and collect them. When I was buying those shoes, I wasn’t trading one for the other and I was never in that type of world. I was just buying to keep. The flipping and stuff was never my game. I would’ve been getting these shoes anyways. It was just what I was buying at the time. I was really excited in the videos, I liked the interaction, I genuinely enjoyed it for the fun of it, regardless of trying to start the T-shirt company.
The majority of the shoes that you got in your collection were things you just bought on release day back then?
Yeah, I mean, I would say for some of the older pieces, a good example would be the Tiffany Dunks, those I got at Dunkxchange for $300 to $400 and the same for my Supreme SBs. So a lot of them, all the Ms. Pacmans, all those SBs, the majority of the Jordans, a few things had to be bought on resale. The Yeezy 2 I think were about $2,000 or something right around there. I got them on release day, but from a sneaker resale shop in New York. But the majority, yeah, I was able to link up with a few different shops around just in general to get a lot of the SBs on release date. My biggest regret is the Skunks. I had got offered those for retail from a shop that I’d done a lot with and then I just was wavering on them, took off on a flight. By the time I landed I said, “Oh yeah, I wanted them.” Texted the guy back and he’s like, “Oh, we’re already committed.” So that’s my biggest sneaker regret.
While all this was going on, did you think of yourself as an influencer?
So this was before the term. My trip videos that I did were vlogs in today’s sentence, right? And I was an influencer, but that term wasn’t coined back then, because the heart of my sneaker stuff was from about 2008 to 2013. On my college application, I actually wrote my essay about my closet. I started the business and everything, but I wrote it about the closet, about how I created the successful YouTube channel and used the closet as an allegory for all the different stuff that I did.
I knew that I was having influence on people and that sort of thing, but I didn’t think about it myself as an influencer in a traditional sense. I knew I was one of the top three YouTube sneaker personalities, but I didn’t get things for free. This is before people were sending a lot of free stuff. I think right at the tail end I got a pair of ASICS, which back then isn’t really something that was my style. I got a pair from a smaller brand as well. But other than that, it was just YouTube ad revenue and then I’d go to the Dunkxchange, just wait in line, and then the guy who would say, “Let us know next time. You shouldn’t be waiting in line.” That sort of thing. But I didn’t think about myself like that. And so it was cool and I definitely knew that people really appreciated it and were influenced by me, but not in today’s influencer sense.
Back then, if you went to Dunkxchange, did kids recognize you?
So that came a little bit later. Actually when I was doing the videos, I got less people who recognized me back then as I did later on. So back probably toward the end of high school and then continuing on until now. I mean, I spend a lot of time in Montauk and stuff. I had somebody come up to me at one of the bars out there, my hair’s a lot shorter now and I’m sure you saw my Instagram, literally look completely different. And this guy comes up to me and he says, “Oh my gosh, OneVeracity. Did you do sneaker videos?” So I started to get recognized today, which is always funny because my friends that I have met since I’ve done the videos, they don’t believe me. I mean, they saw the videos, but they didn’t believe people would actually recognize me
And then we’re in New York City at the Bape Store with some of my college buddies when I was in college once, and a group of kids came up to me, “No way, you’re OneVeracity.” And they’re like, “Dude, what? You weren’t joking, this is crazy.” So it’s fun because it’s just the tiniest little bit of fame. So it’s fun to talk to people who love my videos and everything and it’s just a fun experience now. But back when I was really probably the most popular on YouTube, I wasn’t always in New York City. When I would go to New York City and stuff, I’d get a couple of people who might come up to me here and there if I was at the right spot. But I was mostly just in Connecticut going to high school. So I saw the same people every day.
At that time there were a few other people doing videos, but then I feel like a few years later there was a whole other crop of sneaker YouTubers that popped up. What did you think about that? Do you think you influenced it?
After me, I think I definitely did show it as something that can be popular, and I consider myself one of the original people to do it, with Franalations being the original in my mind. Now there’s other people at the time who are very popular, but to me, Fran, who I’m friends with, was the original. And so it was really cool to get to know him. The sneaker culture’s obviously evolved a lot since then, but also the influencer thing in general has grown. I think people see these influencers starting to pop up. YouTube’s becoming bigger, Instagram came out when I was in college. And so I think people said, “Well, I want to be an influencer. I want to get known for something or get free sneakers or get connections.” So then they said, “OK, well what do I have? Sneakers.” So they just do the reviews and hope to get noticed.
I know personally a lot of people have reached out to me and said that I was the reason they started collecting SBs. They’ve told me that I’m the reason they started collecting sneakers, which to me is the biggest compliment anyone’s ever given me related to fashion or sneakers, because I know how big of a thing for me sneakers has been in my life and a whole culture that involves it. So for somebody to tell me that is unbelievable.
You’ve stopped doing YouTube, but also your Instagram page is private. You don’t have a ton of followers on IG. Are you just over that whole thing where you’re like, “Oh, been there, done that. Doesn’t matter to me anymore”?
We talked about the first piece of my life, the sneaker reviews and everything like that and getting into YouTube. The clothing line that never really took off. But as I mentioned, it did help me get into college, the idea of starting the business. Putting it all together, I think was incredibly valuable. Sold a good amount of shirts and everything, but didn’t really blow up I’d say. But it was still a great learning experience and I’m really happy that I did it.
I went to a college in Boston, and I was in a business program there. And freshman year I still continued to do all the videos. I was still actively buying a lot of sneakers. Then come sophomore year, I’m more into the college thing. I’m thinking about doing internships in the finance world. And so my focus just shifted twofold. I wasn’t actively buying as many sneakers to keep up with every new release because, again, I’m a college kid. I had a deep collection at that time and I had a ton of shoes with me, but on the weekends I would never wear my shoes. I would wear them to class, but I wouldn’t really wear them on the weekends because I didn’t want to get them dirty when you’re out at a college party.
It’s not that any one day I decided, “I’m not going to do this.” It’s just that in high school and early college, even in the long term, I always thought that I wanted to go into a more traditional business job and still collect sneakers. But as I was in college, I didn’t think, especially given that there wasn’t such a proven influencer path, if you will, like there is now, that that was really what my career was going to be made in. I wanted to get a business degree, work in finance. But I never said, “Oh, I’m over this, I don’t want to do this anymore.” It was just, I wouldn’t say growing out of it.
My collecting slowed down and my focus went from doing YouTube videos, which I wasn’t making a lot of money. Nowadays people get brand deals and they get paid a ton from this and that and come up with their own lines and all this stuff. This was before all that, you got to remember, at least I got to remember. So to me it was a hobby. And I was not doing it for the money. I was doing it for the fun. Using my clothing line, yeah, it would be sick if I was successful. But as a high school kid, I just wanted to sell the shirts so I could buy more shoes. So then when I was just focusing on it, I said, “OK, that’s been great.” And then I started studying really hard, focusing really on school.
Early on, you had the Yeezy 2s with the Stephen Sprouse Louis Vuitton shirt. I feel like that was an early on, matchy flex. And then years later you see these kids on Instagram who are doing over-the-top streetwear outfits where now that’s a trend. Do you feel like you started that to some degree?
I wish I could credit myself with that one. That Stephen Sprouse shirt is one of my most proud possessions. I don’t even wear it anymore. I actually got that, it was sitting on shelves because that was before designer was really popular. That was really just a trend of the time. It was matchy matchy, right? That’s how everything was. Whether it was something from a generic sneaker retailer or high-end. I think the unique thing there, the trend that was early on was wearing the designer stuff. I had the YSL T-shirt, the Louis Vuitton T-shirt, and then from [sneaker YouTuber] PB the Nike SB OG, he sold me a Givenchy T-shirt.
I think I was very early on that trend, but I don’t think I necessarily influenced it. I think that people like the rappers and the sports stars really did. And then in recent times, obviously Virgil coming to Louis Vuitton and all those sorts of things did. I would say I was early on it, but I don’t think that I necessarily influenced it. I was doing the matchy matchy trend, but then wanted to mix in something high-end. But I don’t think I necessarily influenced that.
It feels like you’re not really into sneakers that much anymore, but how much do you pay attention to it these days?
I worked in investment banking and then after two years, I left that program and now I work in real estate investing, which I find really interesting. It brings a little bit of creativity since we buy and renovate buildings. And then in terms of sneakers, I follow along with everything. I know exactly the trends that are going on in popular sneakers and everything. So it’s not that I am not into sneakers anymore. I mean, I’ll be honest, I do buy a lot less shoes than I used to. I don’t buy that many in the way of sneakers. I still buy a lot of designer stuff. But in reality, I work in the office four days a week, so I have to wear business casual and that means dress shoes, not sneakers.
And then on the weekends, the stuff that I’d like, the Travis Scotts and those types of things. What I like to do is I like to think [about] what I would be buying if I was back in high school. And I consider myself very lucky because, while the stuff was certainly expensive, it was an SB that was a $100 for $300 that was seen as expensive to me. Now that stuff I would be begging and thinking I absolutely needed is $2,000. It’s unfortunate, because I was able to get this huge collection and now I feel like if I was in high school, I wouldn’t have been able to and I would’ve either had to flip all the shoes to have the new one.
The message I’d like to get across or how I think about it is I loved my time with YouTube. It was one of the most formative and best experiences of my life doing it. I met so many great people through it, like PB and Fran, who I’m personal friends with now and others throughout the time. And it was a really great experience. And knowing that I’ve affected and made people get into sneakers is the best thing ever because I’ve loved doing it for so many years. And now it’s like, I’m 29 years old now and I still love sneakers, still buy occasionally. But I work in real estate, I have to work in an office. And so I still follow along, but I’m not actively buying as much anymore.