The Sneaker Evolution of John Mayer
Armed with his Stratocaster and Air Max 90s, John Mayer quickly climbed the ranks to become one of the jawnz lords of the sneakersphere. From collaborations with ACRONYM to customising Off-Whites, Mayer’s proximity to cultural gatekeepers like Virgil Abloh and Jerry Lorenzo has seen the 41-year-old artist croon his way into our hearts (and soles).
This is the sneaker evolution of one of earth’s pre-eminent sneakerheads and lords of Visvim: John Mayer.
The Air Jordan 5 ‘Grape’
John Mayer’s sneaker journey started with the Air Jordan 5. Appearing on Hot Ones, Mayer reminisced about keeping his Jays squeaky clean in his youth.
‘It’s historic for me,’ said Mayer regarding the AJ5. ‘It was like a car. We’d wear it to school, and then I’d put it on the table and I’d take a bowl and I’d put water and dish soap in it, and I would take a toothbrush and I would just, [scrubbing motion]. I remember the sort of texture of that leather, these little tiny micro-dots. Just working on those micro-dots and trying to keep it clean, ‘cause that was like my car, I might as well have been washing a car.’
John Mayer’s palette would later incorporate Nike’s more eclectic sneaker catalogue, like the Presto and React Element 87, but it was in the Air Jordan 5 ‘Grape’ that Mayer developed a taste for sneaker culture and the kind of OCD thought processes that we’re all still struggling with today.
Two Left Feet (And a Right): The Middle Shoe
Stock ‘em or rock ‘em? The perpetual problem of sneakerheads across the globe could very well have been solved by John Mayer back in 2016. Mayer took to Snapchat (yes, it really was 2016) to announce his idea for a ‘middle shoe’, one that could be displayed at home or kept on ice while you rocked the left and right out in the streets.
‘You’re wearing the left and the right, they get sullied, they get dirty’, Mayer said. ‘But the middle one is always the one you get to put away and show that you had that shoe, you collected that shoe.’
Regardless of how you feel about John Mayer’s middle shoe, it’s hard to deny there’s a certain whack logic wedged in its eccentricity…
The $700 Costco Kirkland 11
No sneaker evolution is complete without a brief detour to Costco.
John Mayer nearly managed to bump the Costco Kirkland 11 sneaker into cultural relevance by making a tongue-in-cheek video vouching for the authenticity of the sneaker. Mayer kept a straight face while proving the legitimacy of Costco’s $17 signature sneaker, also announcing via an Instagram post that he’d dropped 700 bananas on the imitation Monarch.
The best part about all this? Mayer coining the #kirkboys hashtag.
The Air Mayer ‘Spirit Level’ and ‘Pickle Rick’
When the Swoosh weren’t prepared to give Mayer an official colab, he engaged in some first-class hustle by hitting NIKEiD and creating his very own Air Max 90 dubbed ‘Spirit Level’. Flogging the Air Max 90 on his own site, Mayer painted the Air unit in ‘Volt’ while employing slate grey and speckled soles to his beloved Air Max 90 silhouette.
Following up from his DIY ‘Spirit Level’ collaboration with Nike, John Mayer loaded up a Rick and Morty style AM90 on NIKEiD, hitting the uppers with a colour palette reminiscent of one of the show’s most cooked episodes: ‘Pickle Rick’.
Yes, John Mayer has a truly sentient awareness of the internet and its fluctuating emotional response to pop culture.
Now give the man a damn colab.
Cowboys From Space
Finding ways to circumvent official colabs is not where John Mayer wants to be. The 41-year-old artist is hoping to make a name for himself on a more recognised level, and guest starring alongside his long-time comrade Errolson Hugh as part of the official reveal for the Nike Air VaporMax x ACRONYM is one of the ways Mayer is flexing his credentials in the collaborative scene (it also doesn’t hurt that Hugh was, up until recently, the lead designer for Nike’s ACG line).
Mayer’s thoughts on Hugh’s recent take on the Presto?
‘Maybe the best silhouette of a sneaker in a really, really long time.’
If anyone could make tie-dye relevant it’s John Mayer. Jumping in at the height of Virgil Abloh’s ‘The Ten’ mania, John Mayer enlisted the help of Online Ceramics to soak the uppers of the Off-White Presto with a burst of candy-coloured steez.
Publicised texts between Mayer and Virgil helped fuel the #readymadeoffwhite challenge, a concept encouraging sneakerheads to remix their beloved Off-White sneakers.
How do you penetrate the sneakersphere? Link up with Virgil Abloh and hold on for dear life...
A legitimate collaboration. John Mayer’s proximity to the footwear industry’s heavy-hitters like Virgil Abloh and Jerry Lorenzo means that a more official link up may exist on the horizon. His vast knowledge of sneakers, style, and the feverish logic of the Internet also suggests it’ll be damn successful.