words // Gregory Williams:
Whether you know him from his work with OSD Live or from his new From the Feet Up series, Sean Williams is indeed an OG when it comes to kicks. Always keeping it real while dropping knowledge, Williams’ penchant for raw and honest sneaker talk is put on full display in this week’s Ask a Sneakerhead installment. From talking about his web shows to dishing on how the sneaker game has changed, you can check out everything Williams had to say in its raw glory down below along with Episode #5 of From the Feet Up.
Nice Kicks: With OSD Live and From the Feet Up serving as a platform to deliver some raw sneaker talk, do you feel like a level of realness and genuine interest is missing from the game right now?
Sean Williams: I have to say NO because OSD and From the Feet Up exist. To say yes to your question would mean to discredit our 8 year efforts, BUT when sneakers grew to become the over publicized big business it is today and website conglomerates became the new business model and the folks who wrote on those sites and were the “vanguards” of the culture are now the “pacifiers” of it. Keep the advertisers happy so the money keeps flowing along with the free sneakers and party invites. It’s the reason you don’t see all the folks of OSD at every event. It’s the reason (to this day) some brands are still AFRAID to have someone from their staff come on our show. We ask the questions that brands need to be ready to answer. So RAW REAL TALK exists still but it’s rare, it’s like diggin’ for dope vinyl records. [Laughs] I know the average sneaker lover whose been around 30 plus years like me would answer the same. FIND THE REALNESS! EMBRACE IT, SUPPORT IT! OSD’s motto is “Appreciate, Educate, Elevate.”
Nice Kicks: As an OG in the world of kicks, how much has the game changed from when you first got started?
Sean Williams: I’m a child of Hip-Hop so there was no sneaker game when I first fell in love with sneakers at 13. Sneakers were a part of your “uniform.” You couldn’t have brand new shirts, jackets, pants, shorts, socks, etc and neglect to have fresh kicks. They needed to AT LEAST BE CLEAN — you just ruined the entire outfit if you wore dirty kicks. Sneakers were also “utilitarian” when it came to Hip-Hop. There were certain sneakers used to perform certain elements. For example, sneaker demands for a B-Boy and a graffiti artist exceed the demands of a DJ and an MC so each element had people who were partial to certain models and brands. It kept the diversity of brands healthy. That doesn’t exist today.
Fast forward 30 years and in the “sneaker game” retro basketball sneakers are a lifestyle statement (and self esteem play) that hardly reach the hardwood. Sneakers that introduce and celebrate new technology are mostly ignored by that “sneakerhead” person people make reference to. The sneakerhead checks comments to see if he or she should “like” a sneaker. A sneakerhead checks Ebay and Flight Club prices to decide when to buy and how much to sell for a week later. A sneakerhead convinces his mom it’s ok to camp out for those Jordans because now she understands that her $200 bucks can turn to $500 next week if the right sneaker is involved. In my opinion “the sneaker mom” is worse than the easily influenced ‘”sneakerhead” because she actually “finances” his misguidance.
Another “unspoken” issue that has popped up in the last 30 years is the quality of actual real leather (from cows and other animals whose hide used to make the best quality leather). Because of all the things that these animals are injected with and fed these days their own skin isn’t at optimal quality the way it used to be. This opened the flood gates for the use of “synthetics” on the level that exists now. If you ask any materials designer for a sneaker or shoe brand they will tell you that with no hesitation. This creates an opportunity for “remastered” BS that folks are willing to pay more for. NOTE: You’re not getting better leather..it just looks that way! [Laughs]
I could continue with how things have changed but I think that’s enough…[Laughs]
Nice Kicks: Will it ever get back to the way it was?
Sean Williams: No, and it shouldn’t. Things are supposed to evolve. I’ve seen plenty of good and bad cycles over 30 years. Eventually some of the trouble makers disappear. They always DO!
Nice Kicks: What would you change?
Sean Williams: As much as I don’t like the homogenized coverage sneakers have been given these last 3-4 years, I love money making business models. I celebrate them. I teach (some) of them. So the fact that there is someone somewhere who started his or her website as a passion project and they now get a salary for it or they make a good living at the helm of a sneaker related business, THAT’S HUGE! It’s progressive, it’s inspirational! I just wish all the culture vultures weren’t the ones writing the checks. They have crippled so many once powerful voices.
Nice Kicks: Any advice for someone looking to enter into the world of sneakers?
Sean Williams: Holla at me or any one of the Sole Doctors of OSD. We LIVE to help others find their way in the sneaker “Business” It’s what we do daily! We won’t stop until all the shitty sneakers stop being produced. Which seems endless! [Laughs]