The Frshr Than Your Avrge Sneaker Battle
By Ben Kassoy
How can you identify a sneakerhead?
“My bedroom, all around my bed—I crawl over sneakers to brush my teeth every day,” says Red Hook Mike, a Brooklyn-based clothing designer. “I have a little brother, and [my sneakers] took over his closet as well.”
Mike, who rents storage for his 100-plus pairs of kicks, is definitely a sneakerhead. That’s how you tell: one look at his apartment.
On Saturday, at Frshr Than Your Avrge, a sneaker battle held last weekend in Brooklyn, all it took was one look around—er, down: the country’s most intense sneakerheads gathered at Williamsburg’s Public Assembly, to buy, sell, trade and, above all, battle their hottest footwear.
Ding! Round one. Two contestants take the stage, toeing both the literal and proverbial line in their dopest shoes. The judging criteria is threefold: condition of the kicks, how well contestants rock them, and, “Most importantly,” says New York clothing designer and Frshr Than Your Avrge co-founder Wardhav Mercy, “how well-versed they are on that particular pair.”
Sneakerheads, it turns out, have both extensive collections and knowledge of shoes. Make, model, edition, price, colorways, number produced, year of release—sneakerheads aren’t just oxymorons; they use their sneakers, yes, but also their heads.
Participants expounded on their footwear’s features to a panel of expert judges. What qualifies one as an “expert judge”? Earning a name like Sneaker Pimp Joe, as one has, is a good start.
Ultimately, though, winners were decided by a round of applause from the crowd, a knowledgeable—and assertive—one at that. Commentary rang out from the peanut gallery, comprised mostly of fellow sneakerheads:
“The socks don’t match the shoes!”
“What, you been running in those?”
On a pair of green and pastel pink Nikes: “Looks like he just stomped out the Easter Bunny!”
The sneakers were as ostentatious and obscure as you might expect from such footwear-philes. A rare Nike designed by Tiffany & Co.—yes, that Tiffany—maintained in mint condition since 2005. A black and neon K. Swiss from Hong Kong, one of just 12 pairs produced worldwide. Mike, decked from head—and heel—to toe in New York garb chose Frshr Than Your Avrge to debut his Nike SB Dunk Statue of Liberty sneakers. The shoes come in iconic blue-green, but once subjected to time and weather, the top layer wears off to reveal a reddish copper hue, Lady Liberty’s original color.
When the dust settled, Boston’s Josh Slovadon and his pair of custom-made Bespoke Nike Air Force Ones owned the throne. Cha-ching-ing in at $820, the purple and gold sneakers were designed to emulate the Crown Royale bottle. Indeed, “For every kick a crown.”
Frshr Than Your Avrge returns for its next installment on July 14 at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, with Busta Rhymes kicking off the festivities. Not just for sneakerheads, the event is for anyone who owns a pair of shoes, says Mercy.
“We are so excited to…represent our love of sneakers and educate as many people about our culture and lifestyle,” he says.
For spectators, at least. On the battlefield, it’s strictly survival of the freshest.
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