Brooklynite Kiante Young is a sneakerhead without a collection — and that, incredibly, is by his own choosing.
Back in 2008, Young, 29, donated about 400 pairs of his sneakers to a Goodwill in Harlem, a purging of leather and rubber he said left him a more mature —but still very stylish — perspective on life.
“I have so much of everything, and there are so many people that don’t. So I was giving someone a chance to have cool kicks,” he said. Many of the donated shoes were given to Young by sneaker companies, a common practice used to promote the latest styles. “Sneaker companies have been very generous to me, so I said to myself, ‘someone else can use these more than me.’”
Nowadays, Young is appearing on television shows across the country, offering style advice in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. He formerly hosted a Manhattan cable access show called “Young, Black & Doin’ It,” which went on to become a marketing firm, complete with its own magazine. The magazine featured a style section, where Young often covered the latest sneaker releases, which eventually led to television appearances as “The Sneaker Mann.”He recently started contributing to TheUrbanDaily.com, covering lifestyle trends and stories, and just completed a 15-city back to school tour, offering students style and sneaker advice.
Unlike some sneakerheads, as collectors are known, Young doesn’t hermetically seal multiple pairs of the same sneakers in plastic wrap, nor does he encase them in tombs of glass, as if they were a rare Fabergé egg. He wears them.“For me, it’s always been about style. I eventually wear all my shoes.” And he doesn’t play favorites with brands either.“It’s about the outfit,” he said.
The collection of donated shoes was so massive, it had a place all to itself in Harlem, where Young grew up, having moved with his family from Las Vegas at three days old. For the past six years, he’s called Canarsie home. The neighborhood, he said, suits his nascent jet-setting lifestyle.“I like the fact that Canarsie is right by the highway and by the airport,” he said. “Also, because its a Caribbean community, no one knows who I am here, so I don’t get inundated with requests.” Back in Harlem, he said, his cable show and appearances gave him a measure of notoriety, so he was routinely harangued for free clothes, shoes and even money, he said.
Young’sappreciation of sneakers began at a young age. “I had a pair of sneakers with a hole in them, and kids at school were making fun of me,” he said. Embarrassed but determined,“I said to myself that one day, I’ll be able to wear a new pair of sneakers every day. That was a personal goal” he said. A Sneaker Mann was born.
At 15, he began working after school for a large pizza chain, making $100 dollars a day, with tips, he recalled. “I always had a polite way of talking to people,” he said. “When I started working, sneakers became a thing I loved.”
While he said he doesn’t save his sneakers anymore, Young did cite a few of the favorites that didn’t make it to Goodwill, including a pair of New York Knicks legend Patrick Ewing’s namesake brand of shoes, Adidas Kevin Garnett Bounce - Las Vegas pack editions, Nike Blazers, and New Balance 580s.
Still, the entrepreneur in Young knows a good deal when he sees it. The Ewing sneakers — one of the first to begin his collection — were eventually sold. “I got $300 for them,” he recalled.
©2009 Community News Group
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