Trading cards have absolutely blown-up during lockdown. From trading card games like Pokémon to sports cards like baseball and basketball, the surge in stock sent many of us to our childhood homes in search of that elusive first edition.
But with the card craze seemingly hitting its zenith in 2021, we started thinking: 'Where on earth are our sneaker trading cards?' That question led us to a man who's been creating his own sneaker cards, The Sneaker Savant.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What inspired you to create collectable sneaker cards?
Short version – I'm kind of old. I grew up in the mountains of Northern California, moved to New York after I graduated from college. I worked on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and became a High School teacher within the last few years. During that whole time there was always something that I collected. As a kid, the first collectibles I got into were sports cards. I moved on from collecting cards in the late 90s when I started getting into sneakers. About a year ago, I saw 'Topps Project 2020' – they merged street artists with baseball cards and my mind immediately went to 'why hasn't anyone created cards for sneakers?'
Were you a fan of sneakers growing up? Did you have a favourite pair?
Definitely. I have a lot of favourite pairs – it's hard to really pinpoint just one! ‘Black/Cement’ Jordan 4s were the first Jordans I ever saw, so they made the biggest impression on me early on. ‘Infrared’ Jordan 6s were the first pair I owned and Black/Atlantic Penny 2s were my first personal purchase (that I paid for with my own money). I've owned so many pairs of each of these that I really don't feel the need to own them any longer. I'm pretty sure I have a pair of 4s stashed away somewhere, but there are so many cool shoes nowadays I don't feel the need to re-live personal history.
Why do you think the nature of collecting is so important to people – especially in light of recent events?
I think it can be a security blanket to a lot of us, and it can help get our mind(s) off the stresses of society. There is probably a super deep, subconscious, evolutionary explanation as to why some of us feel the need to collect things, but I'm long past the point of caring. If I like it, I like it. I'll get what I can from it, then I'll (try to) move it along.,
What are your thoughts on the recent surge in NFTs? Can you see this working in the sneaker card space?
I think NFTs are legit, and I'm currently working on my own NFT 'experience' to bring to the sneaker card world. Digital packs. I think if you are a creator of anything, you would be well-off to find the digital application for your creation. I think we are only beginning to scratch the surface of the ramifications that NFTs will have on the creator economy, and anyone who isn't paying attention should be. We are living in the future.
What's your view on contemporary sneaker culture and hype?
I'm not really a hater of anything. I think it's a shame that 'flipability' has somehow equated to 'desirability', but I think it's pretty normal for any culture that hits the mainstream to go a similar path. I've found that I no longer care about what the consensus on anything is. If they're too expensive, if they're too hard to find, if they're a hassle in any way, I won't bother. I'm not entering raffles for anything. My view can be summed up on something Dave (of DQM) used to tell his customers 'they're just shoes, man'.
Do you buy many sneakers?
Not anymore. I had a 2021 New Years resolution to NOT buy anything (except Bacon 90s) and I've pretty much held onto that resolution over the past four months. Thrift store come-ups are SO much more exhilarating to me than just clicking that 'buy now' button. I can find something I like in probably 90 per cent of the releases – even bricks – but I have to make a conscious effort to limit myself. I've got a couple hundred pairs of shoes and only two feet. I can't wear them all.
Where would you love to take your concept? What's your dream scenario?
This is kind of a loaded question that I've been ruminating on for months. I'd love to be able to do this forever as it seems there are unlimited options, but I do think it has a shelf life. I think, best case scenario, I'd like to be able to work with brands and collectors on coming up with these 'tangential' products that help add depth to the sneaker space.