The 1995 return of Michael Jordan to the Chicago Bulls changed a lot. Not only did it secure a new era in the NBA, holding off the anticipated Generation X for just a few more years, it also birthed a new regime of sneaker collectors. For many young people during the mid-90s, Jordan was it. He was everything. There was so much hype around his return that, as a young kid who couldn’t comprehend much about the game, it was easy to hone in on the best, most stylish, most popular player, a guy who was literally larger than life once he came back and climbed back to the mountaintop of the NBA while wearing one of the greatest basketball sneakers ever made.
Those shoes were the Playoff Air Jordan XIs, a masterpiece of a sneaker that’s generally considered one of the hottest Jordan kicks ever made. They are also Danielle Simms’ favorite shoe of all time. Simms, who goes by @sneakerfandan on Instagram, is a longtime sneaker collector with over 400 pairs, many of them classic Nike and Jordan Brand silhouettes from those illustrious years between 1996 and 2005…long enough ago that they count as grails for many of today’s younger fans and yet young enough that most haven’t been retroed yet. That makes @sneakerfandan’s collection special. It’s what makes you envious too.
In 2015, sneakerheads come from everywhere. You can find them in Hawaii. You can find them in Detroit. You can find them in Jacksonville. Go anywhere in the world — not just New York City or London or Los Angeles — and you’ll find people obsessed with shoes. It’s more than a fad or a trend at this point. For many of the collectors that we’ve featured in The Stash, it’s a way of life.
“My parents were into sneakers,” Simms wrote to me via email. “I always had kicks. When my dad would cop a pair for himself, he would cop a pair for me.”
That’s often how it starts. It’s almost never how it ends though. Let @sneakerfandan tell you what she’s been doing over the last two decades.
Follow Sean on Twitter at @sneakerfandan
all images via @sneakerfandan