The Stash: @nightwing2303

  • Air Jordan collection

    @nightwing2303

    Can you remember the first sneaker you got that changed your approach to shoes? Where you went from wearing shoes casually to being a person who actually loves and collects them?

    That actually happened before I was even able to obtain a pair of name brand shoes. I would just look at what the other kids at school wore and wish I could get a pair. It wasn’t until about seventh or eighth grade when I got my first pair of Nikes–what I called “real shoes”–and it was a pair of Nike Air Flights on the clearance rack. Once I had a pair I knew I could never go back to wearing Payless shoes. From then on I did what I could to earn the money to buy what I wanted.

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  • Air Jordan collection

    @nightwing2303

    How many pairs do you have and where do you store everything? Do you have a favorite right now? If someone asked you to showcase one shoe from your collection, what would it be?

    I just downsized not too long ago so I’m not sure what I’m at right now. Maybe at 100 or less, but there were up to 300-plus at one point…that was a bit excessive. The shoes I don’t wear, but know I want to keep, are in storage and everything else I just wear casually or play ball in. Those are just kept in my room.

    As for a favorite…that could change depending on the day you ask. I love what I have, so it’s hard to choose just one pair. If I had to choose it would probably be my OG Jumpman Pros. It was the first shoe I was able to save up for and buy myself. I had worked so hard, for so long, just to get that one pair of sneakers. It’s the one pair I can never let go of. It’s almost surreal when you think back on it. It took me months to save up for a shoe that retailed at $109.99 and now I spend $200 on a pair without even thinking about it. Weird how much things have changed.

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  • @nightwing2303

    What’s the sneaker culture like from where you’re from?

    Sneakers have always been pretty popular when I’m from–Bay Area, CA–but usually it’s with the sporty crowd. At least that’s how it was when I was a kid. If you played basketball then you were likely into sneakers. It was part of that culture…the hoop culture. Nowadays you have kids that don’t play any sport at all that are into kicks. It’s a little weird to me only because we wanted what the players wore so we could play in them like the players did. But if you are into kicks today, and don’t play ball; why are you into them? You know? Maybe it’s fashion, maybe it’s trendy, maybe it’s to look cool. I don’t know. All I know is that I see a lot of people rocking the Retro stuff that wasn’t a Retro back in my day. It’s cool and it’s weird. Personally, I like spending time talking to players that wear the shoes at the gym. They’ll rock some pretty dope sh*t on-court and that’s what the shoe was intended for. That’s usually what I get a kick out of.

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  • @nightwing2303

    What are the most popular shoes among the community in your region right now?

    Air Jordans. Plain and simple. The Curry One from Under Armour has been pretty hot lately as well, since this is the Bay, but nine out of ten people within my age group or younger will be rocking a pair of Jordans.

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  • Air Jordan collection

    @nightwing2303

    What’s a sneaker and/or line in your collection that you feel gets overlooked/underappreciated by the masses?

    Those older Team Jordan models. They Retro them once in a while, but they don’t get the same love they used to back in the day. Shows you how spoiled some of today’s youth is. They only want what’s hot, Retro or nothing. But when I was a kid, saving and scraping together change just to buy a pair of shoes, it was the Team Jordans that were the ones I could afford. They were just as good as the flagship model, but they were $40 less. Athletes were wearing them too so you’d have someone to tie the shoe to. Eddie Jones, Ray Allen, Vin Baker, Roy Jones Jr., etc. When Team Jordans were first introduced they were top notch. The way Jordan Brand is run now…that isn’t the case, unfortunately.

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  • Air Jordan collection

    @nightwing2303

    Have you had any crazy release day stories? 

    Not really. I’ve only camped out for a pair of shoes twice. First was the Banned Air Jordan I that was released only at the outlets. That was pretty crazy, I suppose. Had to rent a car because my wife wouldn’t take the day off of work so I could take our car. Then I drove 2.5 hours, sat outside a store for 14 hours, and finally ended up with a pair.

    The other time I sat outside a store for the 2012 Air Jordan IV White/ Cement Retro. All the pairs they said they had the night before somehow disappeared by the time the store opened so I left empty-handed.

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  • Nike Air Penny 2

    @nightwing2303

    How have things like Instagram changed the sneaker industry over the past few years?

    It’s pretty much changed everything. It’s a quick and instant way to access your audience. Brands, retailers, influencers, etc. gain instant access to the people they’re trying to reach. I think it’s cool. It’s opened things way up as well. More people have eyes on this “sneaker thing” than ever before. Younger kids want to all of a sudden be in “the sneaker game” or claim they’re new to “the game,” which for an older head sounds ridiculous, so it brings awareness. Changed for the better?

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  • Nike Zoom LeBron Soldier 9

    @nightwing2303

    What cool things has your love of sneakers enabled you to do? 

    My passion has turned into my business, that alone is super cool. But there are other things that I’ve done because of the fact that I’ve shared my passion with others via YouTube and my website–WearTesters.com–which wouldn’t have been available for me to experience if I had just kept my passion to myself. There aren’t many normal/average Joes out in the world that can say they’ve played basketball at MJ‘s old Chicago house, or that they’ve been flown out by Nike to L.A. to sit in a room with Mark Parker, Eric Avar, and Kobe Bryant to cover the unveiling of the Kobe 9 Elite, and sat across from the NBA’s MVP to discuss his first signature shoe with Under Armour. Those are definitely some of the more wild experiences that I’ve had, memories that will last forever, but the best one is just being able to do what I love and earn a living from it.

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  • Air Jordan collection

    @nightwing2303

    What’s the hardest part of this hobby/maintaining your collection?

    The hardest part is remembering that there is no real “need.” I always have to keep myself in check, reminding myself that these are just “wants” and not “needs.” It’s always easy to look at something and say, “man, I need that.” But the reality is that I don’t. I want it, but I don’t need it. When I was younger it was nearly impossible to distinguish the two.

    As far as my personal items are concerned, I own everything I could really ever want, and then some. Most of the items I get in hand are for business purposes now. I get them, wear them, test them, review them, then give them away to local kids. So, yeah. The hardest part is remembering that you already have what you need.

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  • Air Jordan XX9

    @nightwing2303

    What were the highlights of 2014 for you in terms of the sneaker industry and in your own collection? And if you could map out the perfect sneaker year in 2015, what would that include for you?

    Highlights of 2014 were the events and experiences I had throughout the year that I discussed earlier. Getting to play ball at MJ’s house, being flown out to NYC or L.A. for one reason or another. Those are the biggest things I’ve ever done, and I never thought I’d ever get to do any of it. Never in a million years. As for the collection, this is kind of a repeat answer as well, but I have everything I need. I have more than I could ever need. There are definitely releases that I look forward to, but once I grab them I need to remember to get rid of something I already own so I don’t wind up with a million pairs of shoes that one person couldn’t possibly wear in their lifetime. I try to keep myself grounded and manageable.

    2015 has already been perfect for me. I’ve been helping brands wear-test products before they hit consumers. Those consumers love the products I had a small part in testing, and I think that’s awesome to see. I do what I love for a living so as long as that remains the same every year then there really isn’t much more that I could do to make the year better. Well, maybe if if I hit the lottery, but I’ve never even bought a lotto ticket so I doubt that’ll ever happen.

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  • Air Jordan collection
  • Air Jordan collection
  • Air Jordan collection
  • Air Jordan collection
  • Nike Air Penny 2
  • Nike Zoom LeBron Soldier 9
  • Air Jordan collection
  • Air Jordan XX9

The Bay Area has always been home to some of the most passionate basketball fans in the world, but thanks to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, it’s now the center of the NBA. They have the best team, with the “best” player, and as we enter into free agency this summer, they are suddenly the mold every other franchise is emulating.

But even if the country at large is finally buying into basketball mania in The Bay, the area’s hoops culture has always been there. That extends to sneakers, too. Native Chris Chase, known across the Internet and sneaker community as @nightwing2303, is one of the most well-respected and knowledgeable sneakerheads in the game. Sporting over 64K Instagram followers, Chase is the man behind WearTesters, a sneaker performance review site. He’s been deep in the game for years, an authority on basketball and kicks since the 1990s. If you want to take the heartbeat of a community that’s constantly changing, there’s no better source.

“If you played basketball then you were likely into sneakers,” he wrote to me via email recently. “It was part of that culture…the hoop culture. Nowadays you have kids that don’t play any sport at all that are into kicks. It’s a little weird to me only because we wanted what the players wore so we could play in them like the players did.”

As part of our ongoing series called The Stash, one that’s seen us profile cats who have entire basements of Air Jordans, as well as others who are killing it overseas, we got up with Chase to let him give you an inside look at his collection. Sneaker collecting is about more than cool pictures. It’s an obsession. It’s a lifestyle. Let @nightwing2303 show you how he does it.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

images via @nightwing2303