This past weekend was full of anticipation and celebration as the sneaker community paid tribute to the beauty that is Air Max. We were all feeling the “hangover” of some dope new releases, including Adidas, who has aggressively been claiming territory in the game everywhere you look. Note: I will say Adidas Ultra Boost are the most comfortable shoes I have in my closet.
We did not only celebrate a classic shoe, but gave recognition to a brother and sisterhood molding a culture. I saw hundreds of posts on social media where people were creatively displaying their kicks. A sneaker is not just something to wear and look cool. It is a representation of art, persona, and innovation throughout the years. Shoes have evolved just as generations have, and withstood the test of time.
I was able to connect with Robert Mullins, a major shoe enthusiast in Houston to see what the sneaker culture means to him. Better known as Islander Kicks on social media, he strategically critiques shoes and shares his insight on what being a sneakerhead is truly about.
Let us into Robert’s world.
I was born in Germany and raised in Guam. I have been around the world and I have a love for sneakers. This really came from playing basketball and watching Michael Jordan and Shawn Kemp – having their class of sneakers and wanting to play in them.
What inspired you to begin collecting sneakers?
It started with basketball shoes, and I believe most sneakerheads started with the love for Jordans. For me it was more skateboarding. I had a lot of Vans when I was a kid, and when I used to skate that was the go to shoe. After that, I got taller and better at basketball and moved on to basketball shoes.
How would you say that sneakers represent you as a person?
I feel like it pops out my personality. I have a colorful personality and many people say my personality always matches my shoes. I go for vibrant colors at times, and I also get a lot of shoes others don’t. I don’t want to be put in a box.
How do you feel about the increase of the sneaker hype?
I think it’s a good thing. I always thought of sneakers as art. The more people into it is great. It does suck when you can’t get a shoe, but you always appreciate it when you see it one someone’s foot.
You described the shoe game as an art form, elaborate on that for me.
The design is an art form in itself because it has to be drawn out to begin. For example, Nike SBs have these graffiti artists, and they take the shoe and design it – it blows up. Everyone is looking at it as art. Each color way, each detail, the shape – it is all art.
How many sneakers would you say you have in your closet?
Honestly, everyone asks me that question. I just know I have 200+ shoes. (WHOA)
You have so many sneakers, what would you say are your TOP 3 favorites?
My top 3 faves would be my Adidas Superstars (classic white with black stripes), then my skunk Nike SBs (I really wanted those shoes), and my Jordan Chicago 1s because Michael Jordan was my favorite player when I was a kid. You have to have a pair of Chicago Retro 1s, and if not the Bred 1s are next.
Many people are into the “new new” exclusives. Do you feel that opens the door of opportunity for us to cop the older classics?
It’s hard to get ahold of some classics. You have to first find someone who is willing to give up the shoe, and if they are, you’re spending about $400 more than the retail price. With all the new name brand sneakers that are coming out (Nike, Adidas, even Under Armour), it will still be a challenge to get some shoes regardless. They mass produce more so at least we have a fighting chance.
The first rule to Fight Club is never to talk about Fight Club. Does this golden rule apply to asking about your sneaker plug (connection)?
(smiles) Nah, it depends. Everyone’s information is not the same. My plug may find certain shoes and someone else may find something different. I don’t mind sharing information, and most people don’t mind paying. I am the type of guy that I won’t typically spend more than $500 on a sneaker.
What is a funny story you have relating to shoes?
That would be my Nike 420 SB Skunk Editions. I shouldn’t be saying this but you know it was 4/20 and I obviously wasn’t sober that day (laughs). I went to Shannon’s Street Wear to buy, but they didn’t have any available. Someone had put a pair of my size on hold. I felt defeated. As I was buying a pair of sunglasses at another store, I had a feeling they would call me and that moment my phone rang! They called me to come get the shoes, since the other person didn’t end up buying them.
(Sidenote: was that smoker’s intuition? LOL)
Let’s say you meet someone who is a NEW sneaker enthusiast. What are two staple pairs of kicks that they should have in their collection?
I would say some old school Vans (black and white colorway) and Jordan Chicago Retro 1s if you can get ahold of those. You really can’t go wrong with a pair of Adidas shell toes either.
You started a Youtube channel that gives your audience in depth thoughts to some heavy hitters and “sleepers” in the shoe game. What sparked your transition to create the channel?
I have been working in retail for a long time, and I wanted to give people reviews on different types of shoes including the ones that people want to try but aren’t buying. Everyone has the release dates for the Jordans, Yeezys, and all that. I feel like no one is reviewing the simple shoes, so people should be informed. With general releases, the hypebeasts may say you have too many. Not everyone is able to get the exclusives, so why not talk about general releases.
A hypebeast usually has a negative connotation stemming from a person who follows a trend to be cool. Honestly, we all started out as a hypebeast wanting the cool shoe. Valid point.
What are your thoughts on the current climate of the sneaker world and what does this culture mean to you?
To me, the sneaker culture means connecting with people. When you go to sneakercons (conventions) and summits, you get to meet different people from various regions of the world. You find someone who has the same passion for shoes and they also see it as an art form. You appreciate that, and you share a connection or bond with them. It’s a special time when you are sharing that moment.
Any closing comments you want to share?
I just love sneakers. (laughs)
Check out Robert’s endless collection and shoe related posts on his Instagram HERE. Also, be sure you check out his Youtube channel where you can find cool videos HERE, and SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss any updates.
Peace, Love, and SOLE.