Real Talk: No More Sneaker Hype – Give Me General Releases!
I’ve been buying sneakers for long enough to know better. By that I mean not getting caught up in hype, and the rollercoaster of emotions that inevitably follows. I’ve experienced the highest of highs getting the W from a ‘randomly’ selected draw. But most of the time, it’s devastating low blows week in, week out as a clogging email inbox informs me of my latest L. And who knows how many hours of sleep I’ve lost staying up scanning eBay for Grails!
Anyway, some time after my sneaker mid-life crisis, it seems I’ve had another moment of clarity: I’m done with chasing heat. From now on, I’m only copping general releases.
What helped spur this epiphany was a pair of adidas Campus 80s I recently bought. They’re a simple combo of black suede with white leather stripes, heel tab, and soles. Between all of the retro and new-age stuff adi have been doing lately, the Campus almost feels like a bit of an afterthought, languishing at various retailers in the purgatory of the clearance section. In their defence, I’d forgotten about the Campus too, and how much of a basic pleasure it was to own them.
‘I’d forgotten about the Campus too, and how much of a basic pleasure it was to own them.’
I actually started wearing Campuses a decade ago, having fallen in love with them ever since seeing them on the front cover of the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head. For some reason, the Campus somehow didn’t quite catch on in the 2010s like its Three Striped siblings in the Stan Smith and Superstar, so I was always able to pick them up cheap. But as my disposable income increased, so did my taste for the ‘finer’ sneakers in life. You know, the type of products that weren’t just sitting around waiting to go on sale. I became trapped in the spiral of chasing all the latest releases, while the humble Campus fell to the wayside.
Alas, it was healthy discounting that piqued my interest in the Campus again all these years later. The rest of the purchase process was refreshingly easy. After a late lunch on Saturday in the city, I went to browse a nearby boutique that happened to have some Campuses on the wall, and asked to try on my size. Having already owned this model before, and knowing exactly how they fit, this was a bit of a vanity exercise. But I wanted to experience the entire process all over again, as if I was buying sneakers for the very first time. Surprise, surprise: the shoes fit perfectly. The real unexpected delight was the 50-per-cent-off price tag.
‘I wanted to experience the entire process all over again, as if I was buying sneakers for the very first time.’
Pleased with how painless the entire transaction was, I almost made a personal faux pas and threw my new shoes straight on. But I remembered my process: there were rituals that I had to carry out. Nobody on the Internet was going to bat an eyelid at a pair of black and white sneakers, but the Lace Police were on patrol, looking for any factory lacejobs on the loose.
Beyond that little hiccup, the ease of which it’s been owning and wearing these shoes has reminded me of why I got into this thing in the first place. Sneakers are made for wearing without any hesitations nor fears. Sure, I’ll be sensible and put the suede away on rainy days, but being able to wear the Campus carefree has been a liberating feeling. Crazier yet, I’ve worn the same pair of sneakers on consecutive days – something I haven’t done since I was a kid.
‘I’ve worn the same pair of sneakers on consecutive days – something I haven’t done since I was a kid.’
And once they’re too worn out and relegated to beater status, I can just pick up another pair at almost any sneaker store. It doesn’t have to be an exact double of the Campus, but now I see thousands of shoes before me that I once scoffed at because they were ‘too’ accessible. It turns out, what I was looking for all these years was right in front of me. To those sneakerheads that only wear white Nike Air Force 1s: I finally understand.
Is this simply the next phase of my transformation into a middle-aged normie? Well, it’ll be a long time before I qualify into either category. But spending time on Campus has taught me how to simply enjoy buying and wearing sneakers again.
Check out the Real Talk section here for more sneaker introspection.
All adidas Campus 80s pics via Up There.