In Our Words

NikeID or NikeEGO?
A humble visitor's guide to the scene which is nikeID.

by Lori Lobenstine

Who here’s been to nikeID? I bet not a lot of you, cuz one of their missions seems to be to be hard to get into! Trust me, it’s not about selling sneakers there, per se, (otherwise they’d let more people in, right?), but about marketing Nike’s coolness.

Okay, so how’d I get in? I’d like to say it was my own coolness, but it was really Woody’s. Woody is the main man at Sneaker Freaker, and nikeID was hosting a party for him when he visited the states from Australia. Since I wrote an article for the last mag, he invited me. (Before I get back to nikeID, let me say, Woody is a total sweetie.) Here we are, posing, without an ounce of coolness!:

Okay, so back to nikeID, NYC style. I was pretty excited for the event (what, meet Woody? free sneaks!?), and so was my traveling buddy, Loca. We got some shirts made to rep the site, and Loca went all out—new kicks, jeans, hair braided, you name it. She’s heavy into matching, so she had even tried to dye some laces purple to go with her shirt and purple contact lenses! No joke, right? I knew enough to wear my Nikes (deadstock Air Raids, by the way), but the rest of me stayed pretty basic.

Our road trip down from Massachusetts was smooth…much smoother than our little trip on foot and subway from my girl Mel’s house to the actual spot! That was a minefield—trying to avoid melted ice cream, dog poop, a dude washing his car, a bike trying to run us over, and the hardest of all: the heat! We were walking slow, trying not to break a sweat, but that went down the drain when we got down into the subway station. Damn that was hot!

But back to nikeID. We got there, 15 minutes late, and of course got stopped at the door. Like I said, it’s all about exclusiveness. Luckily my name was on a list, so in we went. There were only about 30 invitees, so it was a small gathering. Folks were just shmoozing, eating fancy hors doevres, and designing their sneakers, but let me describe it for you:

In the central room, there’s a long low table, holding the five or so designs that you can customize on any given day, shown in a fly variety of colors. We had FC’s, Frees, Prestos, Rifts, Dunks, and Waffles. Here it is:

Running along one side of the room, there are three “pods”, with leather couches, computers for designing, and edamame. Edamame! That was perfect: yuppie, healthy, about as “in” as you can get, if you’re in the right circle. Each pod has a sneaker “consultant”, ready to help you make all your important decisions. Of course I picked the only female, Jolie. While not having a background as a sneaker fiend (my disappointment), Jolie did come from a design background and was sweet, mildly helpful, very supportive and certifiably glamorous, but we’ll get back to that. Here’s me and Jolie working at the "pod":

So after picking the sneaker you want to work on, (I picked the FC, cuz you don’t see it too often, and it had some sweet leather), you start playing on the computer, instantly able to see how your sneaks would look in orange, with pink, no gray, no white, no blue...a little touch of this, a black sole, no a gum one, etc, etc. It can go on and on, and it’s so fun! Possibly even better (and definitely a perk of being in the actual space), they had a big book of colors and textures (see above pic), sorta like when you’re picking out wallpaper or something. That way the computer screen can’t fool you with a wrong color! You also get to try on these all-gray versions for size. Everyone at the party was sweating the staff to get some all-grays! (Charlie, the woman who runs the space, says they may even issue some all-grays cuz of all the hype.)

Here’s a pic of the clean and simple (some say boring) FC I “designed”.

After designing our sneakers, we joined the shmoozing. It was a funny crowd. All the nikeID staff oozed cool, but not in a stuck up way. They were super friendly, sort of like one of their jobs was to make everyone else there feel hipper. (Along with talking about sneaks, serving sushi, wine, beer and water that looked like it came in a perfume bottle!) Compared to them, the guests were a motley crew. We were mostly 30-somethings, looking a little scruffy all around, maybe not matching, but wearing nice kicks and looking kinda wild eyed about the whole sneaker thing. What a crew. Loca, of course, was the exception, looking fabulous. Here she is with Charlie Phynes, the Associate Brand Manager in charge of the site.

Well, I’ve saved one of the best touches for last. Check out this wallpaper! Nike thinks of everything, don’t they!? Can you find the silhouettes of Lisa Leslie? Okay, really it’s Vince Carter, but still cool!

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