Sitcom Sneaker Showdown: Seinfeld vs. Home Improvement
Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen need no introduction, and their respective TV shows are two of the 90s most insanely popular sitcoms. But what you may not know is that these two men share an unlikely passion. Recently I came across these two vintage pro model Nikes, and I’m pretty sure that even you super-well-educated Sneaker Freakers haven’t seen either of them before! They’re both in perfect condition – as much as vintage sneakers can be perfect – and I thought it’d be funny to let these two duke it out in a World Heavyweight Sitcom Death Match. FIGHT ON!
Tim the Toolman didn’t wear sneakers nearly as often as Seinfeld, and I honestly can only remember Tim in a few different models, most prominently the Air Tech Challenge II. Seinfeld, on the other hand, would be considered a certifiable sneakerhead by today’s standards. Rocking the newest Flights, Forces, Cross Trainers, Tech Challenges, ACGs, Huaraches and Jordans, Seinfeld wasn’t fussed about his Nikes, as long as they were pristine and white. With that being said, it’s not the sneakers that maketh the man, it’s the man that maketh the sneakers, so let’s talk about their specific models for a second, shall we.
If you ask me, I think Seinfeld’s GTS is the better looking model. I owned a pair of GTS in high school and I love their tennissy simplicity. The canvas gives them that ‘Summer in the Hamptons at P Diddy’s White Party’ feel, and in this instance the Air Seinfeld on the heel is the icing on the wedding cake. Tim is packing the Air Edge II on the other hand. I imagine mall walkers used to wear these back in the 90s, or better yet, if Instagram had been invented, Bob Vila’s WDYWT post along with his chinos, denim shirt and tool belt comes to mind. However, I do give points for the Binford Tools tongue logo.
Seinfeld made it to 100 episodes in 1994, with Home Improvement notching up the century a year later, and to honour the occasion, Nike made these shoes for friends and family. If you look up ‘rare’ in the dictionary it says: ‘Not widely known; not frequently used or experienced; uncommon or unusual’ and I’d consider both of these Nikes beyond rare. Although I’ll never know the exact number produced, I’m guessing there weren’t many and even fewer survive today. I’ve only seen a few images of the Air Seinfelds on the web, and I believe the only pictures of the Binfords on the internet are the same ones I bought.
You’re probably wondering how the hell I got these shoes? I wish I could say I knew someone who worked on the shows and they were given to me as a gift, but that’s not the case at all. I got the Home Improvements on eBay quite some years back. It was a cold wintry night as I sat by the fire with a glass of Pappy Van Winkle whilst surfing the 'Bay for steals. I stumbled across these Binford Trainers (as they were listed horribly) and saw they were ending soon. I ended up in a bidding war with CarnivalKid32 and had to go the Buy It Now route. The Air Seinfelds were acquired a few years ago in a lesser known form of sneaker copping. I didn’t camp out for two weeks, nor did I have a connect at one of the cool-guy stores. Nope, I went to an entertainment auction that had everything from a Britney Spears robe she wore during her Circus tour (which I really wanted to bid on) to a Cleveland Indians fitted that Charlie Sheen (aka Ricky Vaughn) wore in MajorLeague. I’d like to say I got a steal on the Air Seinfelds, but it turned out there was a phone bidder (probably sitting home in his underoos watching Seinfield reruns) who had other plans and bid me up. I ended up paying much more than I wanted, but all that matters now is that I prevailed! And like a true genius, I was – insert Charlie Sheen voice – #Winning!
Other than that, there’s not a lot to say about this pair of showbiz trainers, though I would like to ask Jerry and Tim some random questions about the sneakers if I had the chance. Did Nike let you pick the model you wanted? Did you help with the design process at all? If so, why the all-white sneakers with blue accents? Did Nike tell you what shoe to use in hopes of making said shoes popular? Why not Jordan for the Air Seinfelds? How many were made? Last but not least: can you sign these (grabs Sharpie out of sock a la T.O.) and write, ‘To Kirk, I love you!’ That’s a wrap...
Originally published in Sneaker Freaker Issue 27
Words: Kirk Tilton
Photos: Andy Scott