My shoe brand defines me. I can clearly pinpoint the start and end of my shoe brand eras.
The entire timeline is the definition of brand loyalty. I wasn’t shoe-crazy, but I was passionate about my brand. With the Air Jordans, it was an annual event. It was the entire reason I had a paper route. I saved my birthday money. My brother and I had to have the new Jordans the day they came out. We cleared our schedules, called Footlocker, and made sure we could get a ride to the mall either (a) before Footlocker opened or (b) immediately after school. I wasn’t a popular kid in my school and having moved to that school as a “new kid” at the start of my sophomore year, I was mostly unknown. But dudes noticed the brand-new Jordans.
My room was adorned with posters of Nike spokespeople. My shirts said Nike. My soccer shoes were Nike. Before 1985, I don’t even think Nike existed. I was 12-years-old, so even if Nike was a thing prior to 1985, how would I know of it? I drew the Nike swoosh on all my folders and I couldn’t get enough Nike. I felt like I was in a club. If I saw some kid not wearing Nike I would wonder why?
Then a perfect storm of non-Nike things happened in 1990-1991. First, the Bulls beat my Pistons and I think Michael Jordan said shitty things (and the Pistons walked off the court without shaking hands after they were bounced from the playoffs …I still say Jordan was getting a ton of bullshit calls and I would LOVE to actually watch that playoff series, unedited, and PROVE the Pistons got screwed). And very soon after that, Jordan would play a part in keeping my Isiah Thomas off the 1992 Dream Team, so I went from a Gotta-Have-the-New-Jordans-Guy to an I-Hate-Everything-About-Michael-Jordan and that was the end of me and Air Jordan shoes and it was the end of me and Nike.
Plus, I was a soccer player and Adidas was the obvious soccer brand.
And so it happened. Occasionally over the last 30 years, I might have tried a pair of New Balance shoes here and there, and I think I owned some Merrel’s once, but I never spent another penny on anything Nike, and everything else on my feet were Adidas.
Flash forward to 2020. I’m at a crossroads. I got a pair of Adidas running shoes (for walking, mostly) last Christmas and with only moderate use (again, I walk in them and don’t run), they are falling apart. The soles are falling off of both shoes. I contacted Adidas (of course I do not have the receipt) and they will not replace them or offer me any type of coupon. Adidas took forever to get back to me, and during that time I got a pair of Asics (recommended by many) and while I can’t think of any famous athletes that wear them and don’t know what lifestyle they associate with, I can say these are the most comfortable athletic shoes I can ever remember wearing. And they look cool (now that I swapped out the black laces they came with for bright orange laces to match the logo …you can’t have a boring looking shoe, amiright?).
Have I entered the Asics era of my shoe-wearing life? Am I a bonafide lunatic to put this much thought into my shoes and to think for a minute my brand-loyalty means diddly-squat to a company the size of Nike or Adidas? Or is this a lesson in customer service? Or is it just another chance to point out Michael Jordan is a total dick? Or is it a lesson that maybe you should try on many different brands and styles of shoes and buy a pair that feels great and not to be so close-minded to a single brand?
I don’t have the answer to all those life-altering questions, but I’ll ponder throughout the year while out walking in my new Asics (with sweet shoelaces).