words // Nick DePaula:
Throughout the course of the year, countless sneakers come and go, launching in a variety of colorways around the world, but it’s the stories behind the best themes, the memorable moments created on the hardwood or the impact of a single release that can make an imprint far beyond.
In a new monthly recap series, I’ll be highlighting several of the most noteworthy and impressive happenings from around the sneaker industry. From ad campaigns that left an impression, to brand efforts that’ll impact the next generation, to even something as simple as the best random sneaker that Swaggy P wore, each month we’ll look to celebrate the best stories in our culture.
Check out all of my favorite things in sneakers from the month of May below, in no exact order, because they were all awesome.
Sneaker Room Founder Suraj Kaufman Donates $80,000 To NJ Hospital On Mother’s Day
Not just a simple collaboration, Sneaker Room’s exclusive launch of the Kyrie 3 earlier this season carried far more meaning and storytelling than your average colorway.
Featuring a rose pattern along the collar and an interlocking “MOM” icon along the tongue tab, the shoe served as a fundraiser for the Jersey City Medical Center, where Sneaker Room CEO Suraj Kaufman serves as a boardmember. Both Irving and Kaufman lost their mothers to cancer, and the donation will look to specifically help benefit mothers at the hospital.
“Moms give so much to us, they give themselves for us. I really wanted to do something that would honor them,” Kaufman told NJ.com.
The best part? Sneaker Room isn’t done, and has more charitable launches with Nike in store for the future, as Suraj looks to continue to use his platform for good in the Jersey area and beyond.
During a block party in New Orleans held to celebrate an early launch release of the “Katrina” Air Jordan Retro 3, the brand’s WINGS program surprised a dozen local teens with scholarships geared to help them in their pursuit of a college degree.
A tandem event with the good folks at Sneaker Politics, each student was also given a customized pair of the red-accented 3s, featuring their initials along the collar, in true Derek Anderson-PE fashion. For nearly a decade, the Jordan WINGS Program continues to impact communities and provide the next generation with resources for their aspirations.
When the Warriors star debuted his fourth signature model a year ago in the 2017 Finals, the immediate response was more positive than any of his past sneakers. They didn’t release for another four months, making the postseason debut and early reveal one of the first energy moments of his series, while keeping his biggest fans waiting.
In advance of the 2018 Finals this week, Curry signed off months ago on releasing both the home and away gold-accented versions of the Curry 5, a daring decision that was made just before the start of the season. Typically, brands will wait for the moment to actually happen before releasing Finals versions, a “Champ Pack” or a player’s parade sneakers. Curry’s confidence is rarely seen, and he and the Warriors delivered, by making their fourth straight Finals appearance.
Jayson Tatum Wore “Power Is Female” Sneakers For ECF Game 7
For the biggest game of his life, a Game 7 matchup that saw the Celtics rookie phenom taking on current legend LeBron James for the chance to advance to the NBA Finals, Jayson Tatum’s sneakers quickly caught our attention just after the opening tip.
In a mint green base with orange accents throughout, the pair of Kyrie 4s is highlighted by a series of phrases celebrating women. “FE NOM” is complemented by “POWER IS FEMALE” along the collar, while a female icon incorporating a basketball could be seen along the heel. The shoes are slated to drop in mid July, and will likely be spotted throughout the WNBA in the coming weeks as well.
The Balenciaga Triple S has been on fire for the past year, with folks overlooking its hefty $795 price tag and jumping on board for its hefty, hefty look. With a purposely gapped outsole and overlay-heavy design, the shoe has helped to spawn the current “Dad shoe” trend that’s seeped not only into pockets of high fashion, but through all of sneakers.
Fittingly, Jake Danklefs, aka Dank Customs, pulled off one of the better sneaker mashups that we totally didn’t know we needed. Merging a New Balance 990v4 atop the Triple S’s iconic platform, the custom hybrid became an instant hit.
On what would’ve been his 40th birthday, Nike honored the late Gary Warnett, not only one of the preeminent sneaker scribes in our industry’s history, but also one of the best dudes ever, and a longtime champion of the best of sneaker culture.
In creating 40 pairs of the Air Span, complete with “GW” accenting along the heel, the brand highlighted Warnett’s love for classic running models, while also choosing his father’s favorite silhouette, in a touching tribute.
He didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard in what would’ve been a true Gilbert Arenas homage, but Nick Young still pulled off one of the better sneaker moments of the season by unearthing a 2008 pair of Gil’s second Adidas signature shoe, the Gil II Zero, in the Benihana collab edition no less.
Featuring “HIBACHI” along the shoe’s forefoot overlay, Gil’s original size 13 pair was snagged by Swaggy P from the former Wizards scorer’s sneaker closet. Uni colors be damned, Young wore the pair twice during the Warriors’ Conference Finals win against the Houston Rockets.
Teen Donates 150 Pairs To Entire 1st & 2nd Grade Elementary Class
After volunteering to read to students at Booker T. Washington Elementary in Tampa, FL, a 14 year-old was inspired to help out even more. Camden Grant noticed many of the young students were donning some well-worn footwear, prompting her to launch a GoFundMe page, with the goal of donating 50 pairs.
She actually tripled her goal, and bought and donated 150 pairs with the $6,000 raised, outfitting every 1st and 2nd grade student with new sneakers. Encouraged by the response and success of her first efforts, Grant has now launched her own Instagram page — @SolesShapngSouls — and is aiming to make future donations that’ll help additional students.
Maya Moore Re-Creates MJ’s “WINGS” Pose
Just before her latest WNBA season kicked off, Jordan Brand debuted one of their greatest recent campaigns, repurposing Michael’s longtime iconic “WINGS” pose for a legend of today’s game in Maya Moore. With a nearby billboard in Minneapolis across from the Target Center for the Lynx’s opening weekend, young girls were soon seen posing alongside the poster and celebrating their idol.
After a young fan named Liliana attended her very first WNBA game and saw her WINGS photo go viral on Twitter, she was given the chance to meet Moore days later in person at the team’s practice facility, and also received a signed poster.