On the surface, a movie documenting sneakers doesn’t seem all that in interesting. But after watching the first 30 minutes of a new documentary, I began to slowly realize the underground sneaker movement is truly fascinating.
This documentary isn’t just about sneakers. What is really being documented is American culture, history and a melting pot of youthful passion. It’s more than just fashion, music and lifestyle.
The sneaker revolution started in the 1970s and no one even noticed. The people wearing sneakers at the time did so out of necessity. The B-boys of the 70s couldn’t dance in a standard shoe, so they opted for sneakers. The new born DJs playing disco funk also required slick movement, which was difficult to get from a standard pair of shoes. The early rap stars had a number of reasons for wearing sneakers, but portraying an image and going against the grain was always a top priority.
The first section of the film interviews the old-school players from New York including a Run DMC group member. This is a fascinating trip down memory lane. The origins of the sneaker are fascinating and packed with humor.
The middle section of the film addresses the gang culture associated with sneakers. Back in 1984 a young Michael Jordan slipped on his custom-made basketball boots. In 1985 the demand for the Air Jordan shoes was something unexpected and unprecedented. The Air Jordan shoes took America by storm and everyone wanted a pair for themselves.
The problem for a number of people was raising the money to buy a pair. $80 for a pair of CrossFit shoes (website) today is nothing, but back in the 1980s, this was big money. The people who could afford a pair would often fear being mugged in the street by gangs and thugs unable to afford to buy a pair for themselves.
The gang culture of the 80s thrived on wearing the latest sneakers on the market. If they couldn’t take the shoes they would steal them from stores. The story continues with the rise of gangs controlling the drug market and sneakers being one of the luxuries purchased with the money.
The final part of the film focuses on the modern day “sneakerhead.” This is a term used to describe anyone who collects sneakers. This section of the film is very interesting and opens the door to a whole new world. The dedication of the sneakerhead community is outstanding. The willingness to travel hundreds of miles to wait in line to buy a limited-edition pair of shoes is extraordinary.
I also was not aware of the price some editions can be sold at, for example, over $2,000 for a vintage pair of Adidas and insane amounts for first-edition Jordans. Recently Nike launched a new pair of shoes called the Metcon 1, which sold out in under 10 minutes and could then be found on Ebay for triple the price.
If you enjoy fashion, music and culture I am sure this movie “Just for Kicks” would be appealing. And if you class yourself as a sneakerhaed, this is a must-watch film.