Reminiscing back to 2007, I remember going outside to play with my neighborhood friends and seeing one of the older kids with a pair of Nikes on. Prior to this sighting, I only associated Nikes with bulky, lame running shoes. But they didn’t fit that description, in fact, they were a little puffier and the tongue had a distinguished marking on it that stated “Nike SB.” Without any knowledge of Nikes, I was drawn to shoes skaters often wore like Vans, DC, or Osiris brand name kicks. The older kid began a life-changing conversation about collecting sneakers versus just wearing sneakers, explaining how Nike Dunk SBs were taking the world by storm. Immediately, I was hooked. I remember going home that night, hopping onto my PC and signing up for nsb.org. From then on, I would spend 2-3 hours per day just reading through the message boards until I could recite every single pair of Nike SBs created, discern a legitimate pair of shoes from a mile away, and all before I even owned my first pair of real sneakers.

It took a tremendous amount of effort, but I was able to convince my parents to let me spend $70 on a pair of Nike Dunk SBs. At the time, I had never spent so much money on any pair of shoes or clothing. We went to Active Ride Shop, and I remember picking up the my first pair of SBs for the first time. The Nike Dunk SB Mocha IIs, and I was in love with the beautiful and buttery suede texture. Shopping bag in hand, we went home, and I took as many pictures as I could with my flip phone camera, choosing the best one for my wallpaper. Mesmerised, I couldn’t stop staring at them. I don’t think I’ve ever been as stunned by an inanimate object as I was then. Next thing I knew, this became a pivotal moment in my life – my introduction to fashion.

I treated my Mocha IIs like they were my babies, refusing to wear them so I could keep them clean and fresh. Then, I started wearing them only on special occasions, but after a few months they turned into my beaters. I felt like I had a problem at this point – the confidence you felt wearing fresh and new clothes was addictive – and I wanted more. I tried convincing my parents to let me buy more expensive sneakers, but to no avail. Instead, I worked a relationship with my friend An, who let me borrow his sneakers that he didn’t care too much about anymore. He was already in high school at the time and had some more capital to work with. He was letting me borrow sneakers I could never imagine owning and I knew that I was the only kid in middle school wearing them, I was overconfident in my style.

My interest in Nike SBs began to fade when I was in high school, moreover I was caring less about sneakers in general. My sneaker obsession was crossing over into a streetwear obsession. I started following brands like LRG, 10 Deep, The Hundreds, and of course, Supreme. I would stalk Karmaloop until I saw discounts on certain brands and convince my dad to let me swipe his card. The new clothes came with that same sense of confidence that I had when I bought my first pair of Nike SBs. I couldn’t and didn’t want to stop. I was addicted to everything about streetwear. I progressed from the sneaker message boards to subreddits dedicated to streetwear and learned everything I could about sought after brands.

Since 2007, my ideology regarding fashion has evolved as new styles throughout the seasons captivated me. A bit of friendly competition is involved, but at times a toxic thinking develops regarding the amount of money spent on an outfit. In other circumstances, one may judge others on their appearance, or the lack of effort involved into caring for one’s own image. By this age, I’ve realized fashion involves much more than brand names, but also the journey of finding the right articles of clothing that accentuate your body. Working on your appearance shouldn’t be viewed as solely an effeminate matter, but simply, building your own image provides yourself with a creative outlet that fuels your confidence, character, and identity. Dress to impress. Look good, feel good.    

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