Harking back to the days when Cross Colors and Karl Kani rocked the block, UK’s finest Kish fiended only the best and bulkiest trainers known to mankind. Obsessing over the burgeoning culture that was to become hip hop, Kish sought out to imitate his heroes by rocking Foamposites, Air Zoom LWP, Zoom Flight, Muscle Max, Air Shake Ndestrukt, Adidas EQT Top Ten 2000... A true iconoclast in the hype-driven world we live in these days, Kish is definitely a dude who knows his own steez and reps one of the freshest collections we have seen to date. Check his fresh!
How do you define vintage?
Vintage used to be a definable term but over the years I think it has become a subjective opinion. For me I guess anything over ten years of age. A more accurate way of defining the age of a sneaker is probably to say it’s OG or the decade of issue e.g. seventies etc. I grew up in a small town outside of London called Aylesbury in the seventies. Both hip hop and football played a heavy influence on my life. I am a product of my environment as anyone else, so I guess when and where I hung out would have had a bearing on my tastes. I was always into both runners and basketball kicks. I would want the Vandals and Penetrators that the Rock Steady Crew wore but could never obtain, as well as the New Balance and adidas that my older mate Rob wore to play football in. In fact Rob was ahead of the game when it came to sneakers, he always had the freshest runners at that time.
Does vintage have a different appeal to a new pair?
Yeah, I guess the older ones do have a different association. Primarily it’s the memories attached to the ones you bought back in the day. You can remember the club nights you went to, the tunes that were big at the time, girls etc. With the new retro ones you are just trying to retain that look but in a new context. Also as we know, the older kicks are generally better made but usually aren’t wearable after a certain point. When they reissue sneaks they make certain sacrifices with regards to quality. I guess you can point to the fact that the price of retro trainers is comparable to when the OGs first came out. If companies stuck to making them as well as when they first came out I guess they would be way more expensive. One way to look at it is that the retros are clones and every time you clone something you lose part of its essence, law of diminishing returns I guess.
How did you and your mates decide what was cool before the digital media onslaught?
I’ve always bought what I liked. If I saw a rapper rocking a model and I liked them, I would try to get them. If I saw someone wearing something wack, then I would still think they sucked. My view is that you should stick to your guns and wear what you want and dress to suit your own style and personality. An example of this is that I love Gazelles but they just don’t suit me.
Which UK stores did you used to frequent?
Erm… At first I used to check out my local stores like Hawkinsport or Oxford Sports and when going up to London stores like Passenger, Utopia, Fourstar General, Cobra, Olympus, Acupuncture, J.D. and Intersport. Then when going to the US or Canada, spots like Footlocker, Athletes Foot and Champs and Decathlon in France. Later on in London, I came across joints like Sports and Things and Meteor Sports.
Your steez is avante-garde ball shoes on the chunky side – is it the sport or the aesthetic?
It just goes back to the whole B-boy aesthetic of mad chunky basketball flavours. Remember when all the rappers were rocking high tops with crazy large tongues such as the Forums or Attitudes. It stems from there I guess, plus I loved playing and watching the sport.
They’re pretty far out and somewhere in between modern and retro. Are they bit of a secret passion?
Yeah I reckon they are. Most of the heads into kicks are more into classic styles and shy away from the more bugged out concepts. Having said that, I think the designs on basketball kicks are getting a bit too out there. Now I think they are just over-styled for the sake of it and have no real direction. Some of the models we have spoken about are still ahead of their time, especially the Zoom Flight 95 and The Glove.
There’s never been so many shoes... but do you feel there’s something missing in the current market?
There are too many shoes and mediocre releases. It would be great if companies would stop milking a model dry and allow it a time-out to recapture that initial must-have factor. There are still loads of heritage models that deserve a shot and should be given an opportunity to grab a little shine, with the correct reintroduction.
How do you feel about the tendency for reissues to be different from the originals? The Nike Assault retro for example – is the chunky new sole an improvement on the original or a terrible mistake? Same as the floppy tongues on the Agassi models? How do you feel about it?
I feel that on the whole they get it right, first time out. Think about how much R&D goes into a model before it hits the streets. If it was functioning perfectly for the intended athlete back in the day then what has changed? It’s not as if a retro model would be used by an athlete today (excusing Rasheed Wallace). Also outdated sponsorships have to be taken into account. Sometimes a reissue won’t be the same as an OG because the athlete that endorsed a model may not be under contract and so the OG branding can’t be used. Case in point is the tennis ball logo on the Air Tech Challenge IIIs (ATC III) not being on the retros.
But you have a point with the financial concerns, after all, the companies are responsible to shareholders and in order to maintain profit they might have to cut corners, which might lead to a dip in quality. Having said that, I reckon people would pay that little bit more if they upped the ante with regards to quality. What I don’t get is the desire to change the shape and cut of certain shoes. I like the Assault retro with the Revolution sole, but I don’t look at it as an actual Assault. Maybe it could be regarded as a hybrid, or an Assault II? I don’t understand how they retroed the Air Force III almost perfectly, but then made that move with the Assault. Another confusing issue is how all Jordans bar the Is and IVs look pretty similar to the OGs. The Jordan IV tongue appears to have had the stuffing knocked out of them upon each subsequent release, and there are other issues including the mesh. There seems to be no logic to the whole process of reissuing the history of companies. Of course, I would still prefer the OG, but if the retro looks dope I’ll cop them, sometimes you have to compromise. The ATC IIIs didn’t, so I left them on the shelf, but these new ATC IIs look to be on the money!
Ok, let's go through some shoes. Air Zoom Flight 95 - was this a Jason Kidd thing?
He’s still a dope player but it was more to do with the fact that they looked bananas. Those pods on the side kinda reminded me of insects and their eyes. Alien shits, no question.
Nike Air Muscle Max
They are chunky and just look tough. They have two sets of straps, which gives you options. Proper cheese-wedge profile, giving you that whole B-boy look to the max. Reminiscent of the type of kick that you could imagine rocked by a graf character.
Nike Air Zoom L.W.P
An unsung hero of the running world, incorporating a new style minimal-lacing system and sock concept, inspired by the earlier Huarache and Huarache Lights. The sole unit looks as if it has been scooped out, it was also the first use of Zoom Air in a runner.
I heard the ACG Superdome were the most expensive Nike in their day? did you ever wear yours?
I could never afford ‘em, I think back in 1990 they retailed at around $250. Imagine that, translated to today’s prices? I copped mine a few years back and only ever rocked them a few times. They just look the nuts, like you could walk on the Moon. When that whole hiking trail look came in these looked premier league. I had to settle for Baltoros, Lava Domes etc.
Nike Air Shake Ndestrukt
They look as insane as Rodman is I guess. If you like Footscapes then there is no reason not to dig these IMO. These also pushed the boundaries of shoe design but before the Zoom Flight 95s. I just love that big Swoosh across the forefoot where the laces would normally be.
The Nike Air Pro Streak Max
These are right up there in my list of the illest kicks of all time! They are the cross-training version of an American Football cleat the Nike Air Pro Streak D. They have everything; from a carbon fiber footbridge and strap, visible Max Air to the 3M piping and an unreal wedge profile. How can anyone not like these? If Nike reissued these they'd be snapped up without hesitation!
NIke Air Zoom Flight (The Glove)?
These joints worn by Gary Payton were just awesome! When I first saw them in a catalogue I was immediately impressed. I mean the whole shoe was just covered in this shroud, which could be left open and there was a great big white swoosh over the toes. They were real sleek and looked like they were on some modern day ninja steez.
Nike Air Foamposite – did you like the shoe as much as you liked how hard they were to make?
For me it was like if Batman actually existed and was running around fighting crime he would be rocking these. Penny’s shoes were always out there in terms of design. They just look out of this world and the story behind them just adds to the whole mystique.
Adidas EQT Top Ten 2000 – What’s up with this baller?
These were the first basketball kicks out of the ‘Feet You Wear’ range and the first adidas model that Kobe Bryant wore. At the time, I reckon these were the most advanced basketball shits out. The points on the sole corresponded to the same points on your foot. Don’t forget adidas were messing around with the whole neoprene sock thing at the same time as Nike were on the Huarache tip. Remember the EQTs that came before with the removable sock liner and have now just been reissued? Well these were better and the concept continued with the KB 8, Kobe’s first signature shoe and the only one from adidas that looked any good. Still need to get a pair of KB 8s, I guess I’ll have to settle for the Crazy 8 reissues.
Nike Air Sleep Hoop?
I don't know what it is but I prefer rocking laces on the inside more than the outside like on the Footscape. I guess from side-on the shape of the shoe looks uninterrupted giving it a sleeker look which is deceptive as they still have a chiseled shape. The strips of leather and mesh that go over the forefoot remind me of ribs and a skeletal form. I remember a few heads seeing these and being bugged out wanting to cop them.
This article appeared in Issue 12 of Sneaker Freaker. Buy it here