A true sneakerhead is more than your average guy waiting for the new Nike to drop; a true sneakerhead has the last 20 years of Nike drops stored in the room of his house dedicated to his sneaker collection.
“Sneakerheadz,” a documentary directed by David Friendly (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Doctor Doolittle”) and Mick Partridge (“Decoding Annie Parker”), investigates the world of the genuine sneaker collector.
The film begins with a history of the culture, from the first Air Jordan drop in 1984 and Run DMCs song “My Adidas,” to the Internet age, where online sales have diminished the thrill of the hunt for the new release. Weighing in on sneakers stamp on pop culture are an assortment of enthusiasts, ranging from designer Jeff Staple, to comedian Mike Epps, to Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.
The film doesn’t shy away from the more challenging ideas associated with sneaker culture, including addiction and the violence surrounding releases. A final point the film considers is, with more and more sneakers being produced, will the market become over-saturated? Or will new demographics continue to flock to sneaker stores?
Vamp spoke to director David Friendly about his first pair of Converse, the best boutiques to shop and whose sneaker collections he would like to raid.
Vamp: When did you begin collecting sneakers?
Friendly: I’ve always had a curiosity about kicks, but did not start collecting seriously until we started making the doc about three years ago. It was important to me to remain neutral as a filmmaker, so I had to be careful.
Vamp: Did you have any memorable pairs of sneakers growing up?
Friendly: When I was about five, my mom got me some black, high-top Converse Chuck Taylors, and she took a picture of me in them with our first dog, Sparky. I still have that photo.
Vamp: What type of kicks are you usually drawn to?
Friendly: As I said earlier, as a filmmaker I have to remain agnostic. I like a lot of different kicks, but I am very fond of the old-school stuff because I grew up on them. Adidas, Converse, Puma, these were the brands of my youth, and I think you tend to have a nostalgia for the ones you wore as a kid. I have enormous respect and admiration for the Jordan line, especially the “three” designed by Tinker Hatfield.
Vamp: Where do you buy your sneakers?
Friendly: I am quite particular about that. I support the boutiques, the little guys — places like Melrose Athletic Supply and Undefeated in L.A., and Concepts in Boston, and Kith in NY. I love the shops that feel like speakeasies — like Bodega in Boston. I never ever buy kicks at big box retailers. I might buy a Frisbee there, but never kicks! As for websites, I have purchased a lot from a cool site in Sweden, SneakersnStuff.com. They have a great inventory if you can figure out the time difference.
Vamp: Which sneakers are you wearing the most right now?
Friendly: It depends on the day and what kinds of meetings I have. Lately, I’ve been wearing a lot of New Balance collabs. I’m partial to the “Hermes” burnt orange ones, and I can’t seem to stop wearing this really cool hybrid sneaker that Jordan made for Roger Federer, the Nike Zoom Vapor AJ3. They were impossible to find and I love them because they are so unique. Federer actually played some matches in this model, too.
Vamp: How many pairs do you have?
Friendly: I stopped counting at 100 or so.
Vamp: What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a pair of sneakers?
Friendly: I paid $400 for a pair of classic Jordan “ bred1” high-tops. These were the kicks that started it all, and I wore them for the first time to our premiere at SXSW. In Tokyo, I also bought a pair of high-top Mastermind Superstars with Velcro (instead of laces) for about the same.
Vamp: What would your fantasy sneaker look like?
Friendly: If I could cross an Adidas Superstar with a “Made in France” Stan Smith, and if it looked natural and tasteful, that would probably be it. I love the classics, and those are two of the most iconic models for me.
Vamp: Whose sneaker collection do you envy the most?
Friendly: Too many to name. Wale’s (5,000 pair) comes to mind. Jeremy Guthrie has a cool collection we feature in his vault. I admired Roman Graterri’s collection of just Jordans and how it was displayed.
Vamp: What new sneaker brand should be on everyone’s radar?
Friendly: I love this Japanese line Corgi. Very simple, handmade. Great colors and fabrics. On the high end, I love Berlutti, but I would never spend $1,400 for a pair of sneakers. I also like this Italian brand my daughter wears, Superga.
Vamp: When you can’t wear sneakers, what’s your second choice for shoe style?
Friendly: I have a pair of blue suede J. Crew penny loafers I am very fond of. And, I have one pair of Oxblood Polo wingtips that I’m partial to with jeans. But, I honestly cannot remember the last time I wore shoes. Maybe it was at a funeral?
Sneakerheadz is slated for release this August in theaters and SVOD.