Sometimes Jon Allon — that’s @jonallon80 to you — will just stand there staring at his racks. What can I do that’s crazy? What do I have multiples of? What do I have five of? What’s an OG pair that I have? Instagram changed the game, and Allon works hard at entertaining his 22,000-plus followers. They aren’t paying his bills, but he appreciates them, shows love back, knows he needs to entertain them. So he works at it, plans, thinks it over. No nature shots. Can’t be blurry either. Can’t be holding up a shoe with no regard for what’s behind it. Can’t be the same picture you took two weeks ago. And you can’t be lazy. Needing 10 hours isn’t out of the question, like when he lined up 51 pairs of Nike Foamposites on his carpet and had to unload them all, line them up, make sure they were all going back in the same boxes.
“It’s artwork,” the 34-year-old says. “It’s like painting a picture and looking at a canvas. The shoes are my art.
“I sweat for these pictures.”
It works, too. Allon gets stopped every day in the mall, admirers all like, Yo, I follow you on Instagram. That’s phat, man.
“I want shoes that’ll make peoples’ mouths drop,” he says. “Pictures that’ll make them applaud and talk s***.”
Allon is also known for wearing two separate shoes at the same time. For respect. Recently, that was two different Yeezy colorways at a sneaker event. Before that at a sneaker con, Allon and his friend walked in there and the crowds parted like a wave, snapping photos, double-taking. They had two plexiglass boxes, with a Watch the Throne LeBron shoe in one, a LeBronold Palmer in the other. On Allon’s feet? The Nerf KD IV and the Weatherman KD IV.
“I don’t care how people feel about it,” he says. “I’m excited to have these exclusives pairs and people talk s*** on that but now the ‘What The’ pairs are mixing numerous shoes and I’ve always done that, mixing different shoes. I enjoy that different look of two of the best shoes in a category.”
It’s been a long road for Allon, growing up without the money to get the best pairs, shopping instead of Payless, grabbing his first pair at 12 years old, the Reebok Pumps. He wore them until they were literally falling apart, the pump hanging off the side of the tongue, not even in the basketball anymore. He had to pump them up manually. He’d save up for Jordans, but it’s been so long he can’t even remember his first pair, selling stationery door-to-door, trying to get one pair a year, reading up on the releases, studying every style, every retro, schooling himself.
He’s been to the bottom. On release days, he’s been kicked out by security, been in fights. When the “Do the Right Thing” Jordan 3 came out in 2007, Allon left a club at 5:30 a.m. in Fort Lauderdale, exhausted, and drove straight to the Sawgrass Mall to be the third person in line.
“I’ve been through Hell and back,” he says. “A lot of people see how many pairs of shoes I have and wonder if it’s easy. I don’t have any connection at Nike’s family, no immediate plugs. I work for every single thing I get. I pay the price. I show respect. I follow the code, and nothing’s given to me.”
Years into the game, he has over 400 pairs now, hoarding for all the years he missed out on. Fifteen pairs of Yeezys. A dozen South Beach LeBron 8s, 30 South Beach LeBron 9s. Player exclusives from Carmelo Anthony, Gary Payton, and Chris Paul. OG Wheat 13s, ’98 Cherry 12s, the Playoff 12s from ’97 and 2003. He might grab followers with his #5ofakind images of the Solar Yeezy 2 and the Nike Air MAG, but Allon’s favorite pair is the Black/Cement Air Jordan 3. It’s comfortable, goes with everything. When they start cracking, he moves onto a duplicate, always keeping a pair on ice for every sneaker he loves.
“Back in the day,” he says, “we used to come home and clean it with a toothbrush and put it next to our bed and that was like our trophy.”
He respects the OGs that have been through it, but Allon isn’t afraid of educating the youth. He posts on Instagram about real versus fake, even answers their questions. That extends to NFL players, too, many of them being friends. One of his best friends is New Orleans running back Mark Ingram, who’ll be rocking the Air MAG after a game this year.
Once upon a time, Allon wore Reebok Pumps until the pump didn’t work anymore. Now he rocks 2001 11 Lows, the Raging Bull pack, OG Raptor 7s, the Red Octobers. The recent releases he loves include the Galaxy Foams, the Toro 4s, Galaxy and Aunt Pearl KD IVs, all of the Jordan 3s. Everything he owns is high-end, all of them worth at least $250, and none of them are falling apart.
“I always try to stand out in the sneaker game and do something different,” Allon says. “Some people hate on me for that and some people knock me for that. I have a lot of haters but I also have a lot of supporters and a dedicated following for keeping it real. I’m not about impressing everybody and trying to be in a big group with everybody and friends. I love sneakers. I’m very competitive and I like to do what I do.”
Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney