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5 of the Wildest Sneaker Riots Ever

Date: August 19 2019

By: Gabe Filippa

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It doesn’t take much to cut the brakes on the hype train. From AriZona Iced Tea’s 99 cent sneakers to Jeff Staple’s infamous ‘Pigeon’ release, exclusive drops have been dangerously rewiring the human psychology for decades. Here are five cautionary tales to tell your friends before New York City’s next pop-up. Be safe out there.

Christmas Pandemonium – The Air Jordan 11 ‘Concord’ (2011)

How do you transform a sleepy mall into a war zone? Drop the Air Jordan 11 ‘Concord’ two days before Christmas. Picking up on the steam left by ‘Cool Grey’ and ‘Space Jam’ iterations of previous years, the 2011 ‘Concord’ retro took hype to interstellar levels, with mobs tearing down mall doors in Indiana. Within hours, the Air Jordan 11 appeared online selling upwards of $500.

‘I don’t remember anything like this’, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Police Department told ABC News. ‘Definitely not with the iPhone or anything like that.’

I Got 99 Cents and a Whole Lotta Problems – adidas AriZona Iced Tea (2019)

Linking up with AriZona Iced Tea, adidas revealed sugary renditions of the Yung-1 and Continental 80 inspired by the ‘Green Tea’ and ‘South West’ cans, installing a pop-up market on Bowery and Rivington (NYC) in July.

By the time the sneakers were set to release, however, chaos had erupted on the streets, with brawls and sprawling lines resulting in two arrests, and the prompt shutdown of the event by the NYPD. 

‘It was insane. Nobody got anything,’ witnesses told The New York Post. ‘People got robbed, mobbed and pushed.’

Not a single pair of sneakers were sold on the day, with AriZona Iced Tea taking to social media in order to apologise for the madness. 

‘Thanks to our loyal fans that came out to support our partnership with adidas. Due to overwhelming demand and safety concerns, the NYPD shutdown our pop-up. We sincerely apologise to all our fans that waited in line. We are actively working to remedy the situation’.

Moral of the story? Don’t drop a sneaker for the price of iced tea. The adidas AriZona Iced Tea is now slated to drop on September 1 for $200.

Intergalactic Grails – Nike Air Foamposite ‘Galaxy’ 

Coinciding with NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, the Nike Air Foamposite ‘Galaxy’ launched sneaker hype straight into the stratosphere. Around 100 police officers were deployed in riot gear to bring hordes of over 1,000 under control at the Florida Mall, with tear gas, helicopters, and police vehicles all operating to bring the situation under control. 

Originally producing 1,200 pairs, the Foamposite ‘Galaxy’ picked up utterly insane bids of $70,000 online, and still routinely sells for a 500 per cent increase on its original price. 

The Great Hack – adidas Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 'Zebra' 

Remember when two hackers breached the adidas Confirmed app and ended up with around 80 pairs of the adidas Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 ‘Zebra’? Scenes captured from a Shanghai mall showed mountains of Yeezy boxes below an escalator, with frustrated ‘Ye fans unleashing hell on the poor culprit. Police escorts eventually arrived to escort the man from the mall. 

It’s not the first time people have gone mad for Three Stripes. Back in 2016, people in Taiwan went ballistic for the Originals NMD_R1, storming a mall in Taichung. 

The good news? 

Kanye West is delivering on his promise: ‘Everybody who wants to get Yeezys will get Yeezys’. And it’s damn hard to imagine rioting for an NMD in 2019.

Feathers Fly – Nike Dunk SB Low Jeff Staple NYC ‘Pigeon’

Rats in the sky, hypebeasts in the street, the release of Jeff Staple’s Nike SB ‘Pigeon’ was one of the most hysterical drops in sneaker history. 

Striking at the height of SB mania in 2005, the ‘Pigeon’ sent flocks of New Yorkers to the Reed Space on Lower East Side, where SWAT teams eventually arrived to control the crowd. Knives, machetes, and baseball bats were all confiscated by police as desperate hordes clung to the front gate of Reed Space. 

Splashed across the New York Daily News the next day, the Nike SB ‘Pigeon’ is largely credited with sending sneaker culture into overdrive, the highly exclusive release (Nike only made 150 pairs) routinely fetching over $20,000 on StockX.

But why the pigeon? 

‘The bird doesn’t give a crap’ Staple told CBS News. ‘They’ll walk all over you, they’ll walk right next to you, they don’t fly away, they’re not scared.’ 

Sound familiar?


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