For American sneakerheads, there’s nothing that resonates like Jordan release days. With cultural significance, co-signed by everyone from Nas to Ray Allen to Drake, and with a history that dates back 30 years, getting your hands on OG retro Jordans in New York City can be a job in itself. But in England, it’s different. Just ask Nick Glackin.
The Manchester resident didn’t grow up idolizing Michael Jordan, didn’t grow up obsessing over his sneakers. He has approximately 30 pairs of Js now, but that’s not the point. When you own around 170 sneakers – and that’s an estimate – 30 doesn’t exactly stack up. Glackin is a sneakerhead who loves runners. His Instagram account — @glackster — is littered with shoes like the Nike Air Max 90, the Air Max 87, and the adidas Flux. In England, basketball doesn’t matter the way it does across the pond. In England, if you’re like Glackin was when he first started collecting 15 years ago, you’re into Nike, adidas, Savier, éS, Circa, and skate shoes.
“I think it all started at High School,” he wrote via email, “which I think is where most people get bitten. You see your friends coming to school in something new and you immediately love it (or hate it) and you want it. I grew up with 2 little brothers and it was just our mum looking after us, so we weren’t fortunate enough to be able to get any of the trainers (sneakers) we wanted when we were growing up.”
1989 marked the year Glackin first wore the adidas Samba Special to school. He loved them so much he wore them every day until the sole fell off.
But it was his second pair in 1991 – the Nike Air TW Lite II – that was the tipping point. It was the first pair he bought with his own money, copping both the white/spruce and the white/black/scream green colorways with an employee discount because his cousin worked in a local store. After the soles wore down to the midsole, he even cut them open because he was overwhelmed by the shoe’s Nike Air unit.
He got a job next, bought the emerald/resin Nike Huarache and planned to win a triathlon in them. He didn’t. Didn’t exactly matter, though.
“I never thought of myself as a collector when I was growing up, or even in my late teens or early 20’s,” Glackin wrote, “as I always used to wear them till they were dead, or I’d skateboard in them and kill them off completely, I never really had a lot of disposable income in those years, I was always traveling or snowboarding, so the latest trainers would tease me from the shelf!”
Manchester’s sneaker culture is small, varied. Even just five years ago, there was no need to camp for shoes. The last time Glackin remembers seeing sneaker lines was for the release of the Lance Mountain Air Jordan I. But things are changing, growing.
Today’s release days are mellow for Glackin, who says he gets more excitement out of buying a pair of baby kicks for his two-year-old son, predicting that one day he’ll be dipping into his father’s collection “if they haven’t crumbled and turned to dust by then.”
Social media, the Internet, and the rise of Instagram might not have changed everything for Glackin, but they have changed the game. In barely a decade, he’s seen the market expand and hopes, with a laugh, that maybe one day the culture will crash and he’ll be able to grab all of the older shoes he wants for a reasonable price.
“Now social media and Internet access has made it so much more accessible for everyone, from old collectors, to new collectors,” the Scotland native wrote.
Through Instagram, Glackin has made friends, extended his sneaker network, and collaborated with designers, all of that after initially resisting the social media platform.
“I think I’ve been on IG for 2 years now,” he wrote, “and I can remember my friend telling me I should join, I never thought that anyone would want to look at random photographs of sneakers on my feet or that so many people around the world could connect by doing just the same thing.”
Glackin recently moved residence and is still unpacking his entire collection. All of his shoes are boxed up and scattered all over the house, in his bedroom, in his spare room, in the loft, the garage. One of them is another pair of the Nike Air TW Lite II in the black/white/scream green colors, a 23-year-old original that took eight years for Glackin to find. He wore them once, watched the sole fall off after one hour, then got them repaired and wore them again. While he’s still searching for another deadstock original pair of the white/spruce, they’ll always be one of his two favorite sneaker silhouettes, along with the 2003 Infrared Air Max 90.
“There’s never been an end goal or a direction,” he wrote about his future plans. “Some people collect stamps, some collect fine art, I like sneakers, for me.”
Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney