In the beginning, there was the Taxi XII.
“It literally was like Christmas Day opening a present,” says Randy Caoili. “I still got that pair. I’ve kept them in mint condition, kept them in the original box, original tissue. Every now and then I’ll pull it out. That’s my number one shoe right now, all time. I’ll never let that go.”
One sneaker bequeathed an obsession. Since that fateful holiday season 18 years ago, Caoili says he’s racked up around 1,000 pairs of sneakers, but, obviously, “that’s a lot to maintain.” And so he’s wheeled and dealed, consolidated, and ran through storage room until his sneaker collection, satisfied, sat around 450-500 pairs. We’re talking original Jordan Countdown packs, classic Nike Basketball sneakers. Go on his Instagram and see rare Oregon exclusives, the entire LeBron South Beach collection.
“Anytime I go to the storage,” the Vallejo, Cali., product says, “I’m like that kid looking through your old toys. Some people like to wear their fresh kicks – everybody wears them that week. But me, I like to get into a lot of my old stuff. That’s my train of thought when I go over to storage. I pick some stuff up, and a lot of stuff I’ll keep there for collector’s sake.”
In this new age of flossin’ and flauntin’ you can call Randy Caoili old school. He did camp out for three days for the Yeezys, but normally, you’ll see him on Instagram rocking original size 9 LeBrons. LeBron James‘ signature line has grown over the years, pushing the envelope from a technological standpoint by giving us things like Flywire uppers and Hyperposite. It isn’t just style — though the signatures went to a new level when ‘Bron first arrived in Miami. It’s more than that. Yet Caoili doesn’t believe LeBron’s signature line will ever catch Michael Jordan‘s. Nowadays, because of social media, everyone has an opinion. There’s no right or wrong answer, and it’s virtually impossible to dominate the landscape the way Money did. Fanbases “take sides” now, as Randy puts it.
But that won’t stop him from “Sharin my life, 1 LeBron at a time.”
Caoili still has those original Taxis, still in the same original box with the same original tissue paper. Yeah, he gave them a good wear over the years, but now they’re retired (especially after copping multiple 11/12 Countdown Packs). Thankfully, for Randy and for everyone else, the sneaker game isn’t closing to hanging its jersey up.
“In reality, it’s thriving,” Caoili says of the industry. “It’s actually probably as big as it’s ever been. There are a lot of people out there, whether they’re collectors or actual sneakerheads who delve into everything, or resellers. Maybe 10 years ago, I didn’t know as many sneakerheads as I know now. Look at all the forums. Look at all the Facebook social groups that are growing out there. There’s a lot. I think it’s in good hands.”
Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney