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Interview: Anthony Geathers on How the Foamposite Crushed NYC Hoops

comme des garcon foamposite

The extraterrestrial brain-child of Eric Avar, the Nike Air Foamposite One was born in 1997. Famously laced by the Orlando Magic’s Penny Hardaway, the dime-dropping guard lit-up the deep-space reveries of New Yorkers in the late 90s, the futuristic sneaker pulling up to the concrete courts of Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem and the Bronx. We hooked up with hoops photographer Anthony Geathers to unpack the Foamposite's legacy in NYC ahead of the Comme des Garçons release.

Why is the Air Foamposite One a staple in NYC?
The Foamposite is like the Statue of Liberty or the New York Yankees or the pigeon. It’s been a constant since Penny Hardaway laced them in the late 1990s. It’s definitely one of the mainstays of New York City streetball and basketball culture. The way Penny balled influenced a lot of us, it wasn’t just a hoops sneaker; people could rock the Foamposite casually on the street. We usually start the trends here in NYC.

Penny obviously started playing in Orlando. Why did New Yorkers feel so loyal to him and the Foamposites?
NYC has always been a hoops city, no matter what, we’re diehard fans. We talk about the Knicks, we talk about college ball, we talk about other teams, it doesn’t matter. The shoes hit all of America when Penny rocked the Foamposites. It was crazy. It became part of people’s sneaker Rolodex.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen people wearing Foamposites on streetball courts and in public schools growing up.

Why was it important to showcase a Muslim hooper?
I wanted to give Comme des Garçons something different. JayWill is not only a hooper, he’s a devout Muslim and he lives and breathes New York City. In 1996 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf lost millions for not standing during the national anthem, the NBA blackballed him. We wanted to highlight someone balling in their kufi and encompassing everything it means to be a New Yorker.

What were your initial thoughts on the Comme des Garçons collaboration?
It’s like fine art, right? It’s a museum piece. It’s so clean with these hypnotic waves. There’s no distractions on the shoe. You’ll see me wearing the black ones, but you won’t see me wearing the white unless it’s a special occasion. I don’t think you’ll see many people in these just because of how unique they are. You need to have a certain taste for them, they’re not for mass consumption!

You were shooting The Knicks for their playoff run last year. What does it do to NYC when the Knicks are winning?
When the Knicks are winning in this city, there’s nothing like it. To play for this team, you need to have tough skin. I would say the lights are brighter here than even somewhere like LA. Because in this city, they don’t care who you are. If you’re playing garbage, the fans are going to let you know about it. You could be Patrick Ewing, John Starks or Julius Randle, it doesn't matter, you can’t get away with playing like dog shit.

When the Knicks are winning though, it lights up the whole city. There’s a crazy Knicks hive. Especially outside Madison Square Garden, where the station is. The energy is wild and the trash talk is out of control. Being inside the arena electrifies your body, I got goosebumps photographing the team.

The Brooklyn Nets have a long way to go to capture this kind of energy.

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