When I first got an email from Rashawn Austin, I thought she was too good to be true. How’s there a girl in NYC with over 300 kicks, and I never heard of her? Not only that, it’s 90% vintage fire, it includes some of my favorites of all time, AND she’s my frickin’ size! This could be me if I’d spent more time on ebay and less time on FSF! I had to meet her…
In person she is so humble, organized, and easygoing, you have to look inside her boxes to realize she’s vicious! (James Worthy NBs and Walter Payton KangaROOS?!? Herschel Walker adidas??) To make it more impressive, her 350+ kicks are not her lifelong collection, but the result of an enormous rebuilding after a tragic apartment fire in 2000. And you won’t find gazillion Jordan retros or stacks of AF1 colorways. (Love those, too…) Rather, her study was a step back in time with floor to ceiling history and enough 80s heat to make me reach for my legwarmers as we started to chat…
Why do you collect kicks?
Well, I’ve loved sneakers since I was young. I was a tomboy of sorts, and even now I’m always running around. As a kid I was into keeping up with the Joneses. One summer I gave up my entire allowance for $40 Reeboks! I don’t think I realized how long a summer was! I just wanted those Reeboks so bad.
And I’ve been a collector of sorts from the get go...ever since I was a kid. Being an only child I think that you start to amass things you like early on in life so that you always have them. I always built up my collection, kept counting them, stacking them, ogling them. It's like a possession of possessions.
Do you wear your kicks?
When I was little I didn’t even want to do anything cuz I didn’t want folks to step on my kicks! And I’m a Virgo, a real neat freak, even when I was a kid. Now I do wear them out (the ones that aren’t too fragile), but if you step on my kicks, I could maul you! And I’ve tried a thousand cleaning tonics on my sneakers. Everything from the “magic sponge” to the cheap stuff at the corner store. (Which actually works!)
Why vintage kicks?
I never think of kicks as "vintage", so to speak. I just think of them and associate them with a time in my life that I like... I think every pair of kicks I own takes me back to a memory in life that I just can’t let fade.
I like the fact that something "old" is "ultimately" something new. Take the whole 80's throwback look emerging right now....it is an "old" fad. Kids are trying to bring back the neon look, tunics, Ewing sneakers, FILAS, colored Levi’s etc. If you just kept all the stuff from jr. high school you would be set! I fortunately am the same size I was in junior high and high school, and (being a collector) I still have all of that stuff! I like my vintage kicks because they represent the era I grew up and have since become proud of. I’m an 80's BABY and I love it! So I rock the Ewings, the Lottos, Puma Clydes and all of that!
Which are your favorite vintage kicks from your collection?
My first and foremost favorite pair is my JAMES WORTHY NEW BALANCE never ever tried on ...shoes in a suitcasesque box! A classic sneaker for a classic team in the ultimate era....of SHOWTIME! Who else had a team member who kissed his boy on the opposing team at tip-off instead of giving a high-five? The entire squad is vintage from Kurt "Superman" Rambis to Kareem "Hook” Jabbar, Jheri curl Michael Cooper, and James Worthy. Even his name is classic!
2nd would have to be my Walter Payton Kangaroos with his number on the heel. One of the most, most respected athletes of his era! That’s all I'm going to say. RESPECT!
3rd favorite would have to be my Original Orange Nike Dunk Hi's! The colorway is Classic, and I still grab them whenever I can’t decide on another shoe. 4th are my Nike Lava domes. The heel is so stiff you feel like you have on snow shoes! 5th would have to be my original New Balance 991's with the USA logo on the heel. These are hands down the most comfortable pair of shoes I have EVER owned, (except maybe my Justin's brown lizard cowboy boots....but that's a whole other story!)
I’m exclusive! Fuck the shoe! Too much hype, too much money. I can’t relegate my life around exclusives. I don’t do lines or sleep on concrete. I will NOT spend over 80 or 100 bucks. Most of my kicks I get for 20, 30 dollars. I love corner stores and ebay. I have friends, check sample sales…you name it.
It’s about time someone departed from the regular "exclusive" discussions about $1000 kicks and 1 of 1 made type crap. A lot of these kids (and I use the term sparingly) only like what they see, not what they know or for that matter can afford. I am DIFFERENT, so my feet are too. I like a little history in my stacked boxes, not cash burned and never worn. My kicks…are "exclusively" old because they really are… a little something different than your average NIKE-head! I can’t support NIKE all the time because they are not the only ones out there with hot kicks.
These last kicks are a pair of Nike All Courts. I had them with a black swoosh, back in the 70s! All the boys on my kickball team were sweating them, and I was the first girl in my school to have a pair. Damn, Shawn, you took it all the way back... thanks.