For our first interview here at KicksOneTwo, we had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Westermann. Raised right here in Minnesota and currently residing in Alaska, he’s a lover of all things Nike SB, and has been collecting for several years. We discussed several different topics, from how the sneaker game has changed in the last couple years, to what the difference is in the sneaker culture between Minnesota and Alaska. Without any further ado, here’s our conversation:
KicksOneTwo: How long have you been collecting sneakers for and what got you into it?
Adam Westermann: I first started collecting sneakers about 2008, at that time I’d just moved to Alaska about 6 months prior and had finally got a decent job where I could start spending a little bit of money on sneakers. Always had one or two pairs through highschool and college to try and keep a little bit of freshness going. I couldn’t really spend a lot on sneakers back then, so when I was able to I started buying about 5-6 pairs during the slow years and it escalated pretty bad after that. What got me into it? I don’t know, just trying to have something different on my feet, different looks for different outfits and times of the year, no huge influence, I’d say maybe friends that were into AF1’s and SB dunks. I’d see something that they had on feet and ask them where they got it and they’d show me some websites or some stores. The pursuit to be unique is definitely my driving force behind sneakers.
KOT: Was there a moment when you realized sneaker collecting was less of a hobby and more of an obsession for you? Did it happen gradually or did you have a moment when you were like: “woah, this is serious!”
AW: Um..(laughs) I’d say there was definitely a defining moment where it went from noticing I have a few sneakers to, like, oh, this is a borderline obsession. In 2010 there was a shop that opened up in Anchorage, Alaska called Zak’s Boardroom that was a locally owned skate and snow shop and it was the only place that had a Nike SB account in the area so when I found out they were opening I started going in there every six to eight weeks and getting a new sneaker (laughs), and when over time the employees and shop manager and owner know your name and your shoe size that’s when it’s like “Alright, maybe I’m spending too much time or too much money”, and I had that realization when I walked in and they were like “Hey Adam, 10.5 for you today?”
KOT: So it was kind of a gradual realization. Is there a specific kind of sneaker you like collecting more than any others? I heard you mention Nike SB earlier, is that your favorite?
AW: I have several different types of brands and styles, but the predominiant models in my collection would be the Nike Dunk SB Low and Hi. I’d say they take up about 25% of my collection.
KOT: Do you enjoy other brands besides Nike as well, like New Balance?
AW: Yeah, I’ve been getting into New Balance a little bit over the years. I liked their 990 reissue last year, the 997 reissue this year is really nice, they have a lot of different collabs like the one with J. Crew that are really nice as well, and I really appreciate the craftsmanship with their UK and USA models, really high quality materials and craftsmanship.
KOT: Yeah, the craftsmanship on those is through the roof!
AW: Yeah! And last year was the 30th anniversary for the Reebok Classic Leather, and they had some beautiful shoes. I actually got probally 8 of the collabs, they had all of their top-tier accounts design a Reebok Classic, either a low or a mid. I ened up picking up 8 of them and they have really cool different designs, I mean these shops are from all over the world, some in Singapore, London, all over the place and a few USA shops as well. My favorite one from that line was the Sneakers N’ Stuff collaboration, that was made out of cordura which is a super durable weatherproof material and it’s got thinsulate interior lining so it’s a perfect winter shoe for Alaska. It’s something I love to rock because when there’s snow and slush on the ground I can throw it on and not have to worry about destroying the material. They can pretty much handle anything.
KOT: Just out of curiosity, did you pick up the Burn Rubber Spirit of Detroit sneaker from that pack? I haven’t had a chance to see those in person and they looked really dope in pictures.
AW: I did! I actually had it in hand, and I’ll tell you’ I’ve been to Detroit and seen the statue, and the color execution wasn’t right. It just didn’t execute the right way and the problem for me is that I know what the statue looks like, so when I got it in hand I was like “this isn’t the same color as the statue”. I mean it’s a beautiful sneaker, it came with tons of different laces for all the different sports teams, in Detroit every year if a team makes the playoffs they put a different jersey on the statue so they had different laces for each sports team that you could throw in your sneaker. It was really cool, good quality but the execution of the color on the statue just wasn’t right so I actually traded it to Midas from the Twin City Sneakerheads group and he sent me a used pair of Blue Lobsters and I’ve been wearing the crap out of those. That’s one of my go-to winter sneakers, the material holds up really well in the snow so I use em a lot. I really do wear my sneakers, I don’t just look at em and keep em in the box.
KOT: That’s what you gotta do. There are too many people that pratice the “wear it twice and put it on ice kind of thing”. They’re sneakers and meant to be worn. So what was your most recent pickup then? What was the last sneaker that you bought?
AW: Hmmm…I have a list I’ll pull up here, I try to keep it organized. It was actually a Flyknit Racer off of Nike.com! It was actually on clearance, a chlorine coloway. I got it for 80 shipped so about half off. My first racer. I’m a huge fan of the original Flyknit trainer that was realsed summer 2012, got about 5-6 of those colorways. I’m a big fan of the material and the lightness and breathability. I’m really excited to see what Nike keeps doing with the tech.
KOT: Yeah, those are great shoes! I actually just got a pair of the Chuckkas and they’re fantastic.
AW: Nice! Yeah, I’ve got one pair of the Chukkas and they’re a really cool sneaker for casual wear. It’s nice because some of the runners aren’t so casual but you can wear those chuckkas with khakis or jeans. You can pretty much wear them with anything.
KOT: Right! Super versatile sneaker. So these next two questions kind of tie into each other, but what is you favorite sneaker that you own and why is it your favorite sneaker? Like why does it mean so much to you?
AW: Favorite sneaker in the collections is the Nike SB Stussy dunk low, came out in 2005 I believe in a pack with the Tiffany SB that got all the hype.
KOT: Oh yeah (both laugh)
AW: The Stussy, I mean I saw it and I was like “wow, that’s loud.” I’m not big on loud sneakers but just something about the whole color scheme, I just think it’s nice, the materials are beautiful. I was in college when the sneaker came out and I didn’t really know a whole lot about the whole scene of limited sneakers and stuff. At that time I was going into the mall once or twice to find something, and I’d usually grab something like a Cortez and wear it to the ground but I really wanted the Stussys and I couldn’t find any way to get them. The prices on Ebay after the release was something at the time that I just wasn’t willing to pay, so probally two years ago I found a DS pair on Ebay and it came with OG all. I just recently went down to Cali for my sister’s wedding and wore them down there for the first time, really lot of head turns and compliments. It’s cool because it was the first Nike SB that really caught my eye. I always wanted it, and it was a fun little hunt to get it. I could have gotten it earlier on but at prices I wasn’t really happy with so when I finally got it for a reasonable price and brought it out for the first time around my sister’s wedding it was really cool for me.
KOT: That’s really awesome. So one more question in that vein would be is there a sneaker that you’d do anything to get your hands on, like a grail that you’ve been hunting for and have been unable to find?
AW: There’s definitely a handful of sneakers out there but as far as what I’d do to obtain some of them…the sneaker hunt right now is just so out of control, and the prices have gone so high for a lot of these grail type sneakers like hyperstrikes that it’s just not even worth it. But the SB city pack with the pigeons and Paris and London, you know some of those are beautiful sneakers. The Paris is a great sneaker but if I had to choose my favorite out of the pack is the London, and I’d love to have it because I feel it’s the most wearable sneaker out of the bunch. The prices are just so high though. I have a set limit in my head of what I can spend and I don’t like to spend over that limit or sell or trade my sneakers.
KOT: Me neither (laughs)
AW: If I have I, I wanna keep it. There’s very little that’s gonna persuade me to get rid of something, there are a bunch of grails that I want but as of now I wouldn’t be willing to do anything crazy to get my hands on them.
KOT: Understood. Changing topics, I’ve got a few questons about the culture and your thoughts on it! What would you say the difference is between the sneaker culture here and in Alaska?
AW: The big difference between sneaker culture in Alaska and Minnesota that I’ve noticed is that Alaska is 3-4 years behind. Trends are very slow to catch on up here, the height of the sneaker craze in the continential US was around the Concord release, and up here it didn’t really start until a year or six months or a year ago up here. I never had a problem walking into the local skateshop and getting a sneaker. I could walk in the day of a release and get my size every time. But this past summer there was a line out the door the morning of to get the Digi Floral Janoskis, and I get there and there’s already 12 people in line and I’m like “wait I’ve never seen this before.” (both laugh) I’d say that the whole collect thing is just really starting to get popular here. It’s mostly Jordans up here, which I think is the same for a lot of places but very very few people even think about straying away from Nike, it’s 99% Nike up here. I wear a pair of NB’s and people are like “what are those?” They’re all like “what’s Asics, Saucony, or Reebok?” A selct few like Nike SB but the vast majority is Jordan and Nike Basketball up here. I feel like down in MN it’s a wide variety of collecting.
KOT: So the main difference you see between up there and down here is the diversity of collections?
KOT: So I’ve got two more questions for you then. So I know you come down here once or twice a year and you’re pretty active in the Twin City Sneakerheads facebook group. Is there anything that you can think of that makes our sneakerhead community hear in Minnesota special?
AW: Just the willingness of people to be genuine and the willingness to provide good information to the people that are new to the game or don’t take the time to really stay active with release dates, etc. It’s nice how someone can pop in and ask a few questions or ask for a legit check. Everyone is real genuine and will look out for each other. There’s a core group of people that are definitely there to help each other out on releases, and if someone wants something they are always willing to help out if they’re not going for it themselves. They try to avoid the reselling plague as well. There are also a lot of nice retail locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well, like Studiiyo23, Phenom, Cal Surf, Familia and the Nike store in MOA. That’s really cool.
KOT: Last question! Is there anything currently that’s your least favorite thing about the sneaker game, like something that’s changed since you started collecting ?
AW: I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s changed, reselling has always been there, there’s always been exclusives that there will be high demand for. It just seems that a lot more people are reselling now instead of…you know, I used to buy two pair a lot, one would be to wear right away and the other would be to put away for later in case I could never obtain it again. But now the tactic is buy a pair to wear and buy a pair to resell. There’s a lot of people out there that can’t afford these resell prices, there’s a lot of sneakers that come out now too. I just think reselling is kind of a joke, it upsets you but at the end of the day I don’t participate in it and the people that I communicate with and stay in contact with don’t either.
AW: MarvelousWesty on all platforms. Shoutout to the TC Sneakerhead crew, AK boardroom here in Alaska. Shoutout to all the genuine people that have a love and respect for sneakers, buying stuff that they truly like weather it’s a 20 dollar clearance pair or a 2000 dollar limited pair. If you like it, buy it. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Huge thanks to Adam for taking the time to talk to us. Very enjoyable conversation with a genuine dude. Stay tuned for a trip to Adam’s storage locker on Monday, where we get to take a look at the heat he has stashed away. Until then, here’s a sneak peek….