Meet Hardcore Kid. Just like his name suggests, this kid is raw hardcore, taking collecting to a whole new level. Sure vintage collectors are nothing new to us (peep Issue 12 for that good ish), but when you find someone who is so into a specific era of shoe design that he can school any cat from back in the day on when, where and how a shoe was produced, you know you've got a dude with a serious habit. Hailing from the coffee grind of Italy, Luca (as he's known to his moms) has amassed a silky smooth blend of vintage treats that will leave most collectors fiending for a hit of his high. We caught up with Luca to chew the beans about just why he can't get enough Swoosh!
Hey Luca, thanks for hitting us up and sharing your insane collection of Nike vintage running shoes. When did the hunt start for you?
I started about five to six years ago randomly buying all the retros I could find. I actually didn't know much about sneaker culture or websites, but step by step I started developing my own taste. Around three years ago I found a nice stock of vintage sneakers, which instantly lit a fuse! Back then I was already aware of vintage collecting and I knew some of the models... but after that experience, it was vintage-only for me.
Growing up in Italy, how exposed were you to sneaker culture?
My first memories of sneakers came from the early ‘90s during my school days. Jordans, Air Max and the Agassi line were the most popular back then. Another inspiring source has been music - mainly Hardcore, but also hip-hop. I remember checking out all the booklets from the CDs I had bought, or just seeing pics of old concerts and flyers and stuff like that. I found myself checking what was on the band members' feet. Once I really fell into collecting I found out I wasn't the only one in my town. In general I tend to see that the Italian sneaker style is quite different from other European countries such as France, England, Holland or Germany, mainly because street culture and streetwear are bigger there.
Well funny you should say that because most Euro heads were heavily into adidas or puma back in the day, some still are. What was it about Nike that got you fiendin'?
I got my first pair of Nikes when I was 15, so I just wanted to make up for all the years and models I missed out on. Seriously I don't have a real answer, I just think that the look and the colourways that had been used in early Nike models are much nicer compared to other brands.
You say you were into NBA basketball growing up, yet your collection steers clear of vintage b-ball shoes in favour of running. Why is that?
When I was an adolescent I was really into NBA and playing hoops in the playground. Back then I used to buy mainly basketball shoes. With time I thought I'd rather specialize in one specific type of sneaker rather than collecting a bit of everything. I don't know if it has to do with my obsession for running shoes but a couple years ago I started running and I must admit I started falling in love with it.
Running shoes seem to be less retroed than b-ball sneakers - has that made the challenge harder for you to source grails, considering a lot have never been reproduced?
The fact that b-ball sneakers are more retroed doesn't affect the vintage hunt. Perhaps it could be the fact that back in the ‘80s the running boom was dead while b-ball was at its climax with the Lakers, the Celtics and the arrival of His Airness, which eventually changed the whole game. That's the reason, or at least that's my idea, why it's easier to find more vintage b-ball trainers rather than running shoes.
Why do you think, especially in recent times, there seems to be a surge in retroing b-Ball shoes as apposed to running? Are we less inclined to wear running shoes for casual purposes?
We tend to wear what we see around us - like it or not. And one of the main reasons why there's a surge of b-ball retros is probably because basketball as a sport has a much wider demographic compared to running.
Makes sense! What were your thoughts on Nike's approach to their Heritage Running Range aka Nike Vintage Running? How well do you think they executed the collection?
I think what Nike did was a nice concept, especially because they brought to life models that were forgotten such as the Bermuda. The materials they used were of less quality, but nowadays to use real leather or suede would be too expensive both at production cost and consequently the sale price.
Were you a fan of the vintage treatment given to these retroes? I ask because a lot of cats were buying the shoes and cleaning them up to look new!
I liked the idea of the vintage treatment for the suede parts, but I, like a lot of heads, cleaned the midsoles and the laces, mainly because if you want it to look vintage, buy vintage!
Fair point. Let's talk about your collection! Tell us about some of your rare gems... the Sierra Rainbow is a corka!
I own around 100 pairs of vintage plus retros. Yes indeed, the Sierra Rainbow is a killer model and definitely one of my favourite pieces. I specialize in Nike running shoes only, but with time I have started to appreciate older models, so now I'm focusing on ‘70s and early ‘80s models only. Some of my favourites are Le Village (Cortez casual model), the Virginia (formerly known as Franchise - the name was changed after a basketball model endorsed by Moses Malone took on the title), the Terra and Terra Rainbow (two Japan exclusives developed by the notorious Terra TC), the Leisure (as in Le Village for Cortez - this is casual version of the Tailwind, the first ever ‘air' shoe) and the LD1000.
How and where do your source the goodness?
I'd love to have more free time to go sneaker hunting in good old sport stores, but for now I'd say that my main sources are eBay and trades with other collectors.
Ok, we gotta ask about the Night Track! We've only ever seen one other pair in Issue 3 of Sneaker Freaker courtesy of James Bond at Undefeated. Just how rare is this disco biscuit and tell us about ‘tracking' it down.
I think the Night Track is one of Nike's most mysterious models. I've never really found someone that could give me an exhaustive answer, but from what I know, the model was produced in ‘78 and '79. It was made in the USA factory of Exter, NH for the worldwide famous STUDIO 54. It was never mass-produced, and probably never will be (fingers crossed).
Did you have to part with a small fortune to get them in your hands?
The pair I have is actually not DS so the price dropped. I bought them on eBay around three years ago for something like $100 -150 shipped. I remember someone was selling a BNIB pair on a forum and he told me he sold them for more than $600.
The Heathwalker shoe came with the sickest Nike box! Why do you think as collectors we are so drawn to boxes?! You said you bought this pair just for the box right?
Boxes are a nice addition but definitely not the main reason of collecting. Personally my favourite box is the one that came with the Sierra Rainbow, it has the world map on the box lid, but instead of using the usual red/white combo it used two tones of brown that made it particularly attractive. But my all-time favourite is definitely the Intervallel box with the old cursive logo. It opens up like a chicken wings box. Awesome!
Are you more about the aesthetic of each shoe, or is it the history that draws you to running shoes?
Both actually. Aesthetically, because back in the ‘70s Nike dared a lot. Not to say they didn't fail. One example could be the Nike Colorado - it's a beautiful model but failed to gain any success and was almost immediately forgotten. Most of the times they came up with such wonderful models. I also collect from a historically point of view because I love to own the original pieces, feel the suede, the mesh and all the materials they used back then.
Is there anything in your collection you wish you had but never tracked down?
Too many! But if I had to choose a few models I'd say the Hawaii (any c/w), Tailwind, Colorado, Cortez (they made so many types in leather, nylon, deluxe). I could go on!
And now you're selling them all off. It seems to be a trend at the moment with most of the big collectors selling off their entire collections. Is the excitement of sneaker collecting dying?
I sell some pieces from my collection from time to time, but the reason why I do it is not because my passion is fading away but because I re-invest the money I make. Lately I've been selling mostly non-running shoes and also a few ‘90s models.
Has this got anything to do with you now owning your own bar? Tell us about that, in case any cats need a brew while they're in Italy!
Yes, I've got a coffee bar/tobacco store with my father. We are located in the centre of Milan - it's called Nicol. We have some beers but if you come visit us you'll definitely have to try our delicious coffee and cappuccino.
We'll hold you to that! Tell us about working with Foot Locker and the Feed Your Obsession campaign. How did that come about?
I often write on Crooked Tongues and one day I got a PM by a member asking if I'd be interested in doing a photo shoot for FL. I agreed and he came over to Milan and we simply did it. We found two or three locations where we took some pics but in the end we chose the old tram, which I think was a real nice spot. We just snuck on the tram, quickly took a few pics and then we jumped off like nothing happened.
What was the outcome of working with them? The e-props must have been dope! Haha!
I didn't actually work with FL, only the photographer. Overall it was a nice experience, except for the fact that they changed a bit of my interview (STAB as a basketball model??!!)
So you're selling your kicks, where can people go to make enquiries?
In the last year I've sold more than 200 pairs and everyone always got what they want from me. People can hit me up on the Internet, on the forums I'm on, on CT. Find me and I'll sort you out!