Posted: Monday February 13, 2006 3:24PM; Updated: Monday February 13, 2006 3:24PM
How will Michael Jordan and Nike top the XX model (above) released last year?
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The last seven days here in New York City constituted Fashion Week, a time when thousands of people who care more about fabric and textures than functionality descended upon the city. Supermodels made headlines in the papers simply for walking, a seemingly basic skill that I'm not ashamed to admit I've excelled at since childhood.
Anyway, fashionistas were on us like overpaid Knicks players, not that this was really anything new for me. While SI.com is based in midtown, my office at SLAM magazine is in Chelsea, in an area called the Garment District. I utilize a subway station next to the Fashion Institute of Technology, and my fellow commuters employing that station are often wearing fashion-forward garb, things simultaneously challenge both the status quo and my ability to not stare in wonderment at the sheer audacity.
While I used to regularly wear throwback jerseys and ironic t-shirts, I've mellowed in my old age. These days, I'm not really the most adventurous dresser -- jeans, sweaters and oxford shirts get the job done. But for the past month, I've been the one drawing stares in the subway, on the streets, even in NBA locker rooms. Not because of my collection of well-worn Braves hats or some wacky jacket featuring a sleeve made entirely of safety pins with a sketch of axe-wielding marshmallows across the back.
Actually, to co-opt a line from Mars Blackman: "Money, it's been the shoes." Specifically the ultra-exclusive Air Jordan XXIs I've been wearing.
You remember Mars, right? Spike Lee's nerdy alter ego who helped put Air Jordans on the cultural map, and it didn't hurt sales to have the greatest and most popular athlete on the planet rocking them either. Exclusivity played a part, too. Air Jordans always cost more than any other shoe, and myself and thousands of kids across the world saved our dollars and pounds and yen for months in order to afford the newest pair when they came out. Having the newest Jordans was a sign, not only of your personal (or your parents') financial wherewithal, but it also triggered instant cool among those who knew.
For whatever reason, shoes have always mattered to me. My first shoe memory still lingers: Len Bias scoring 30 points against Georgia Tech back in 1986 on a variety of jumpers and drives to the basket, although more than anything I vividly recall the red-and-white Nike Terminators he was wearing.