I can’t remember a time in my life where buying sneakers was more complicated. Many years ago you were able to just walk into a shoe spot, buy your sneakers and go on with your life. Wanted to double up? No problem. Campouts? Worst case scenario: you’d have to get to the shop an hour ahead of time where there would be 8 other dudes that were just as knowledgeable as you about sneakers. No bots, no twitter links, no special codes non of that. Fast forward to today and buying a pair of sneakers can feel like a full time job. Let me give you a taste of what runs through a typical shoe heads brain while he ponders whether or not to buy a particular release:
Should I get them or should I wait? If I wait they could sell out and I’ll have to pay reseller prices, then if I pay a reseller price they might re stock and kill the value on my shoe or even worse the pair I get on eBay could be a grey market pair. Damn, I hope they fit right. Maybe this pair won’t come with one shoe faded and glue bursting out the side this time, I still haven’t received my money back in my checking account. Its cool either way I guess, if anything I’ll take my chances with this raffle Saturday but I’ll have to leave work early. I sure hope I get them…………
To make matters more complicated, bots (programs used to manipulate limited sneaker releases by buying up all the sneakers before honest buyers can even get to their online cart) have forced companies to re-think how they sell limited run shoes. Nike for instance has come up with “Nike Access Codes”. They will send out Access Codes to select customers, granting them exclusive access to select Nike products and each code is unique to the individual. Valid for a limited time and redeemable only once, Nike also reserves the right to deactivate access codes or ban users at any time. Here’s the kicker,the Access Codes do not guarantee that customers will be able to buy the product. Great. This is all just the tip of the iceberg and things don’t look to be getting better any time soon but instead of ranting on, lets take a take a look at 5 dope brands you can buy without getting an ulcer.
Far removed from their days of jacking Jordan Silhouettes, Gourmet Footwear has been pumping out some really good shoes with some top notch quality in some great prints. Shoes like the 35 Lite LX and the Libero are not only good looking but also nicely priced.
If you need a break from Chucks and Vans then this brands for you. Reef has a rich history in the surf community and is known for their clean sleek designs and solid quality. Prices range from $48.00 for the casual Deck Hand 2 and $150 for the more dressy Reef Kudu.
Airwalk doesn’t show up often on your favorite manufactured shoe head celebrity’s feet, but don’t be fooled. Airwalk has been in the skate game for longer than most and has a back catalog that would put a lot of companies to shame. Shoes like the Jim Tennis Ball at $70.00 and the Prototype 540°F- at $85.00 are under-hyped gems.
Le Coq Sportif isn’t underappreciated by those in the know but they aren’t drawing the lines and hype a lot of other brands are. Styles like the LCS R 1000 and the Flash 89 are the perfect shoes to escape the usual suspects.