Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re a shoe lover wanting to give unique valentines, or you’re looking to impress a certain sneakerhead at school, you’ll LOVE our Eastbay sneaker valentines! View them below, and then click the “Download” button to print and share them with your friends.
By Drew Hammell
July – one of the best months of the year for kids. School’s out, and it’s time to hit the beach or the pool for some rest and relaxation. For the dedicated athlete, however, July is a time to work. The long, hot, humid days are the ones that separate the average athletes from the elite. The football player is up early hitting the weight room and running sprints because the fall season is rapidly approaching. The basketball player is out on the court putting up 500 jump shots before noon. And the cross-country runner is up early and getting in 10 miles before the temperature hits 90.
There’s nothing quite like a good throwback. Ask Drew Hammell, the man behind the popular @NikeStories Instagram account, and he’ll say the same thing. There’s just something special about the old school stuff.
According to the accounts bio, @NikeStories offers commentary on Nike kicks and culture. From everybody’s favorite classics to forgotten gems, @NikeStories uses throwback catalogs, ads, and iconic images to bring out the history behind sneakers and sneaker culture.
We chatted with Hammell to get the inside scoop on @NikeStories, how he started the account, his favorite shoes, what shoes he wants to see make a comeback, and more in our Q&A.
Let’s start at the very beginning. How did you first get into shoes?
“I grew up in the ’90s and I remember kids in elementary school walking around with Jordan 5’s, 6’s, 7’s. And I just really admired the design of the sneakers. The Jordan line was totally different from any other sneaker I’d ever seen and Nike was too. Whenever a kid walked in the classroom with a visible air bubble, I just thought that was the coolest thing ever.”
Did you start rocking those shoes then as well?
“At the same time, my parents didn’t have much money, so I really couldn’t afford the Jordan models or even Nikes with visible air. It created this fascination with the desire to get them, but I just couldn’t afford them at the time growing up. I was really into sports and I played everything, so I really needed sneakers that would work for me on the court, and that’s where Eastbay started to fit in for me.”
Yeah, so you racked up a pretty serious collection of Eastbay catalogs, right? How did that happen?
“Yeah, I definitely remember in 8th grade, it was the age of Nike Basketball sneakers. Air Max technology was taking off and my friends would all be in the lunchroom looking at these amazing shoes from an Eastbay catalog. I’d never seem them before. I was like, ‘Wow, here’s a catalog with everything in it.’ I would sit in the lunch room and study them. I always wanted all of these shoes. Then we’d talk about sneakers all the time in high school. The minute I turned 16, I got a job at a shoe store so I could start buying shoes at a discount.
At the same time, I collected every Eastbay catalog. I would keep them in my room and study them. It really helped for work, because then I knew what I was talking about in the store. I could provide specific information on Air Max, which shoes had Zoom Air, and things like that.”
Let’s fast forward a little bit to when you decided to create @NikeStories and how that happened.
“I figured over the years that my sneaker obsession would just kind of go away. I got married, I have a daughter, I don’t work in retail anymore, I’m not in the sneaker industry, so I was pretty detached from the sneaker world. But the fascination has just never gone away. And I am a collector, so I still had all these Eastbay catalogs and magazines and all of my shoes that I just never threw away. My mom kept them in my bedroom even after I moved out.
Eventually, I saw how easy it was to post a picture on social media, give a quick description, get feedback from people, and I saw how quickly other people’s accounts could grow, so that’s when I decided to start @NikeStories. People were using Instagram to post their own sneakers, but not really saying much about them. And honestly, kids in their teens or early twenties didn’t even realize the history behind their shoes. So I would go through some of my old magazines and started posting pictures. People pretty early on would start commenting and liking when I would post throw-back Eastbay pictures and ask where I found them. I realized nobody really saved these catalogs from the ’90s, so I thought I was really onto something and just kept posting for fun and to share this history.”
Did you think @NikeStories would grow to be this popular?
“I’m definitely surprised. I thought if I could get to 5,000 followers, that would be quite an accomplishment. I’m approaching 50,000 now, so it’s just been really fun. I thought in the three years since I started it that I would for sure be out of information, but I definitely have plenty more. It’s been really fun and it’s given me a lot of opportunities. I’ve gotten to write for a few magazines. I’ve written pieces about Eastbay and ’90s shoes and ’90s culture and music. I just contacted Scoop Jackson this week, who wrote the book Sole Provider, and I’m writing a piece about him. So it seems like every week I’m talking to someone who influenced the culture and is a personal hero of mine.”
It sounds like you get a lot out of running the account. What do you hope everyone gets out of following the account and seeing the stuff you post?
“I just want it to be a place where people can talk about some of the old school stuff that they really love.”
Jordan Retros get a lot of love from the sneakerhead community, and rightfully so, but they aren’t the only heat the Jordan Brand is bringing these days. In addition to Michael Jordan’s signature collection, Jordan also has a long history of releasing non-signature shoes, dubbed Team Jordans.
This month, the Jordan Jumpman Pro returns. The shoe has been called the greatest Jordan team shoe ever by several prominent sneaker blogs and it’s pretty easy to see why. The Jumpman Pro has a similar feel to the iconic Retro 12 with a premium look and luxurious finishes. The shoe was a huge hit when it originally released in 1997 and was worn on-court by All-Stars and future Hall Of Famers like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
We bought and read this phenomenal book, and will now break it down for you. First off, it’s hardcover, with a protective sleeve and sliding cardboard carrier. It was written by sneakerhead Jay Lawrence, who compiled hundreds of hours of research and interviews with pertinent sneaker people in order to create this comprehensive book. The book is titled The Encyclopedia of Air Jordans: The Complete History and Definitive Guide.
Every Air Jordan, in every color ever made (with high-quality photos to boot), fills the 500+ page book. Included with each shoe is its history, its significance to the sneaker game, and nicknames, including an alphabetical price range guide for each and every shoe. Also featured at the end of the book is a glossary of sneaker slang and terminology so people new to sneaker culture can read with relevance.
The book was made possible by crowdfunding; Lawrence’s Kickstarter campaign raised over $112k — quadruple his goal! The foreword was written by Detroit sneakerhead Mark Bostic, who not only was kind enough to open up his massive sneaker collection for the project, but who also recently retweeted a decades-old Eastbay catalog. All 5,000 copies of newest version have been sold; however, there are plenty of resellers out there if you’re persistent.
We would like to thank Jay and Mark for the countless hours and sneakerheaded dedication it took to complete this project. As an athletic apparel company, specifically a retailer that sells shoes, we appreciate and understand the significance of sneaker history, and enjoy the culture and joy that sneakers bring into people’s lives.