So...about those rentable sneakers...

I barely fact checked for this post.

I posted a screenshot of that IG advertisement for Kyxworld that’s been flying across my feed the past few weeks and wanted to hear what people were thinking…I reserved judgment until I thought about it a bit deeper and came to the conclusion I usually come to in these scenarios…I ain’t mad at it.

My first thought when seeing the post and watching the commercial was ‘wow, Jeff Staple is really putting himself out there. He’s like the Nick Cannon of sneakers.’ (When I posted a mention of Jeff Staple someone was like ‘what’s wrong with Jeff Staple?’ I said ‘nothing’. Don’t get me wrong - I LIKE Jeff Staple. I think Jeff Staple is a very intelligent dude and, although a lot of people complain that his pigeon colorway is a bit of a one-trick pony, he’s involved in SO much more than just an instantly recognizable collaborative colorway. His ‘Business of Hype’ podcast is one of the most illuminating podcasts available in the space - he talks about things other than shoes and interviews the market makers and shakers in the space that most traditional sneaker media outlets don’t even mention. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself (while listening to his podcast) ‘ooooh so THAT’s who that is!” He’s thoughtful and articulate and thought-provoking and his podcast often gives me unsolicited inspiration. If you haven’t checked it out and want to make a lane in the space - I would HIGHLY recommend it.)

My second thought when seeing the post and watching the commercial was ‘wow, so it’s gonna be like bowling shoes. gross.’

My third thought was ‘what a load of shit. What has this world come to?’

After the post and some further deliberation…a few more thoughts came up.

“How are they going to verify that the shoes they purchased are authentic?” (they’ll probably buy in bulk from certain distributors)

“How are they going to verify that the shoes that are rented are sent back as the same shoes that they received? (I’m guessing either an RFID implanted behind the tongue or some scannable QR placed over the size tag)

“How many wears are they going to be able to get out of a standard pair of shoes?” (We all have different gaits and wear at a different rate. I get a couple hundred wears out of my shoes - should be interesting to see how quick turnover is).

“Once pairs have outlived their useful life will they sell them similar to how rental car companies sell rental cars?” (It’d be nice if they donated them…)

“Are they going to add different price levels for wear levels?” (most likely)

“Are they going to need a grading system?” (Get these dudes my number…)

Everything above was BEFORE I took a look at their website…and after perusing the website…I can’t hate. I really can’t.

Logistics aside, I have to ask myself: how could I use this service to MY advantage?

There are a couple of pairs that have been on my radar for a while that I’m still quite curious about. The first one that comes to mind are those ISPA Road Warriors…and…the hyperadapt’s…and those Matthew M Willaims x NK Zoom 004’s…and…I dunno…some others. The ISPA Road Warriors are going for like $700…there’s a mismatched pair on GOAT (around my size) for $1k. Ain’t no way in HELL I’m dropping anything even close to that on ANY pair of shoes that I plan on wearing. I don’t even know how they fit! Imagine I dropped $1k on that pair in my normal Nike size and they fit small? Am I just shit out of luck at that point? It’d take me MONTHS to resell them at that price and I have NO interest in dealing with stuff like that. If I could RENT that pair for a month, just to see how they fit and to see if I really wanted a pair for myself, I would pay $50 for the opportunity to do so. Easily. And I’m almost certain that if I wore them like 5 times, I probably wouldn’t have much interest in purchasing them anymore after that…just because there are another 50 pairs on my mind at any given time.

If I had some kind of emotional attachment to the shoe - not just some morbid curiosity - then that’s a different story. But I would STILL want the opportunity to try them on before purchasing.

Brick and mortar shoe stores are pretty much a thing of the past - back in the day you could go into a store and try on the pair of shoes you were looking for! You could say ‘hey can I try this in a 9?’ and they’d let you try a pair on in a size 9! And if they fit tight, you could say ‘hey do you have a size 9.5?’ and they’d say ‘yeah let me double-check!’ and they’d go in the back and bring a pair of size 9.5’s out to make sure that you got the shoe that fit you.

I hate hate HATE how new releases are nowadays - there’s no time to deliberate, there’s only time to ‘buy’. New Balances are consistent, Reeboks are consistent, Asics are consistent, most Jordans are consistent, but Adidas and Nikes are WILDLY inconsistent. Air Maxes - probably my favorite product line - are about as inconsistent as can be. I seriously own pairs of Air Maxes within a 5 size range - anything from an 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 or a 10 can fit me, depending on the shoe, the factory, the year, etc. I just bought those Air Max 96’s from Germany in my regular size - $200 - and they fit about a half size smaller than the 2016 pairs. That’s a $200 mistake that could have been avoided if I could just try a pair on in-store. But NOOOOO, we’ve gotta click that ‘Buy Now’ as quickly as possible because if we don’t, we may never have another chance at ‘em again. Gross.

If I still played basketball like I used to - I’d use the service to try on different performance shoes on-court. I don’t know if I like just buying a pair of shoes in hopes that it works out for you. That’s probably why Nightwing is so successful - buying and then testing really is like a backward approach to the whole thing. I’d love to wear some Kobes for a few games, maybe some Freaks, maybe some Kyries, maybe some Cosmic Utilities. Hell, I’d even like to try out some Curry’s. Once I’m able to find the pair and the size that fit right and match my playing style - I’d be much happier knowing I got the right pair.

A service like this would allow me to be a more discerning customer…and whatever it takes to get me away from being a mindless consumer…I’m all for it.

If you look at sneakers as a utility - this makes sense. If you look at sneakers as a cultural or economic pursuit it probably comes off as desperate and corny (and I agree - if you’re using a service like this to stunt…please, don’t). If you look at sneakers as collectibles, you can just keep it moving - this service clearly isn’t for you.

This service is not really for people like me, and it’s probably not for people like you (if you’re reading this). IMO, this is for people who don’t want to waste their lives obsessing over stuff that really doesn’t need to be obsessed over. This is like the fashion nova of sneakers. Fast, cheap, no hassle. And what’s wrong with that?

I have a passing interest in plenty of things…things I don’t really care about on a deeper level than ‘surface’. Spectator sports, for example. And I participate in spectator sports in a similar way - I watch a game once in a while. I go to a game once in a while. Maybe I’ll watch some highlights or read an article or listen to a few minutes of a podcast. I own a couple of Warriors hats and wear them once in a while. At one point in my life, I did obsess over it. But I don’t obsess over any of it (anymore). I don’t care what happened to who. I don’t care who did what. I love it when ‘my team’ wins a championship, but I’m not gonna lose any sleep over it if they don’t. And then I live my life. Why should shoes be any different?

This is what happens when shoes and ‘sneakerhead culture’ goes mainstream. It’s almost inevitable when this much money is changing hands because EVERYONE wants a piece of it.

I can see why ‘purists’ would be mad, but I can also see why it’s probably somewhat of a victory for the vaguely-interested ‘fan’ or parents or the ‘little guy’. I mean, shit, my parents used to buy me one new pair of shoes every school year and that was it. That. Was. It. And from what I can tell - most students I had in East Oakland (non-sneakerheads) - were outfitted with 3-4 new pairs a year that they really didn’t care about but still wanted to fit in. That’s $300-400/a year parents seem to be spending on shoes. If I was a high school kid just tryna fit in, I’d be unbelievably excited with the opportunity to rock 9 different pairs over the course of the school year for around the same price.

At the core, I think those who are hating on this feel like it’s the bastardization of the ‘culture’ they know and love. (I hate using the words ‘sneaker’ and ‘culture’ too close to one another - but there really is a subculture around sneakers no matter how much I hate saying it. Unfortunately, most of the ‘culture’ comes down to the amount of money that changes hands, but it still has the hallmarks of any culture: ‘the customs…of a particular…social group.’) I don’t disagree with them, but it really just isn’t for them.

Personally, I think the real ‘culture’ part died for me around 2010 when the Galaxy Foam release took place…I had just left New York and couldn’t really understand the madness behind that particular drop and that’s kinda when the floodgates opened IMO. It was like the culmination of so many factors to where dudes were trying to trade their used Kia Sorrento’s for a pair of shoes. Just something I could not understand for the life of me. Although I still keep abreast of almost everything that happens in the space, I’m no longer emotionally attached to the majority of it. But back to the point…

…or not.

I love being a ‘Run the Jewels’ fan and I like telling people I’m a day one supporter. Am I mad that I Run the Jewels songs are being used in video games and movie trailers and tv shows? Fuck no. I think it’s dope. I’m happy for them. It’s not what I would choose for them, but they made it. The world has accepted them. The world has validated the decision I made years ago when I decided on that first spin that that shit was FIRE. And they are reaping the rewards.

What this move towards rentable sneakers signifies to me - we’re no longer the weirdos with the ‘shoe fetish’. We’re just some regular-ass people. If you really want to be mad at someone, be mad at the people who made Daybreak