New York is a mecca for shoe collectors – providing countless shops, tons of talented designers, and year-round sneaker culture events – so it’s no wonder that eatmoreshoes was led to the Big Apple while hunting for fellow adidas addicts.
Michael Sterling (the Director of Fox Business Network) is a perfect example of a man suffering from the adidas addiction. We caught up with him to find out what a 43 year old married father or two is doing with a closet overflowing with adidas sneakers.
Hey Michael, thanks for sitting down with us. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in New Jersey about fifteen miles outside of New York City. I’ve worked as a television director for over 22 years and I currently work in midtown Manhattan. I have only been collecting in earnest for a couple of years and I currently have 54 pairs of adidas. I own no other brand. I’ve always had a love for sneakers, adidas in particular, since I was in high school. I was a popper, professionally, for a breakdancing crew back in the mid 80s.
That’s pretty fresh! What was your crew called?
We went by different names depending on what we were doing. The ‘Cardinal Crew’ was our original name because that (bird) was our high school mascot. We performed at a lot of events and contests and we often worked with a mobile DJ company. We were just kids in high school but breaking and popping were just incredibly cool back then. You could literally put down a boombox anywhere and get crowds of people to gather around. Then, around 1987 it was just… gone. It’s just amazing to see what it’s become today. You look at the battle in the movie Beat Street now and on one hand a lot of it still holds up but on the other the cats today are just on another planet.
Things have seriously changed since the 80s. So how did adidas influence your dancing back then?
Naturally, adidas was the shoe of choice. That was all that we used to wear. For popping, the Superstar was great because of the support and a durable toe that made it perfect for gliding (floating). That support, plus the shell toe made it easier to push off in a way that your feet and toes weren’t wrecked at the end of a session. Obviously, we emulated our heroes and all of them were rocking adidas.
And are you still dancing?
I still pop all the time, actually. I’m proud to say that I haven’t lost a step. I still perform at fundraisers for my kids’ school and the kids in the crowd go nuts. It’s amazing. I’m always teaching my daughter some popping moves. Back in the day, we stopped when it just kind of went away in ’87 and we also started focusing on DJing and recording and performing hip hop.
How did the utility of a dance shoe turn into a full blown sneaker addiction?
Well, the desire for a pair of adidas was always there and always will be, the reasons for the desire just changes a bit. When you’re a kid it’s all about status and having the freshest pair of kicks. As an adult I have more respect for the shoe as wearable art. I even enjoy the history of the company and what was behind the design of the shoe. I devoured the book about the Dassler family, Sneaker Wars by Barbara Smit. It was totally and completely fascinating.
Has your style of collecting changed over time?
Well, the great part is that, as an adult you usually have more money to spend. I guess my sense of nostalgia and style makes me only collect shoes from there Originals line, save for one pair of Climacool Ride shoes that I use for working out.
We love kicks from the Originals line! Give us some more detail, what’s hidden in your closet?
I guess that it’s a little eclectic but not too flashy or crazy. I actually have a pair of 3M JS (Jeremy Scott) Wings that my daughter persuaded me to buy for the performance that I mentioned above. They were only worn for that performance but I would definitely take the wings off the laces and rock them as a damn fine hightop. I also have a pair of simple, white canvas Nizzas that some colleagues at work had customized for me with graffiti for my birthday. Those don’t get worn much because I want to keep them crisp but they are very special to me.
Looks like you’re mostly into running shoes, Superstars, Pro Models, and a few Superskates. Why do you like these silhouettes and styles?
Well, let’s face it, modern (80′s-90′s) running shoes are just crazy comfortable. I don’t have a ton of them but for me they are my go-to shoe when I want to be super comfy and still rock a little bit of heat. I just love Pro Models, I only wish that there were more styles out there. I’m always on the hunt for them.
We know exactly how you feel! Those orange and black SL72′s are sweet, they look almost vintage. Do you collect vintage sneakers as well, or just contemporary releases?
I actually don’t own any pairs of vintage shoes (older than 1990′s).
You seem to be all over recent drops. Tell us a bit about the two new shoes you have coming in, the AZX Goodfoot’s and the Def Jam x adidas Superstar 80s. Why did you buy these?
Well, the Def Jams were love at first sight when I saw them at the Originals store in SoHo when they came out. That red suede! Unfortunately, I didn’t buy them when I saw them and, as sneaker collecting goes, I never could find them again. Luckily, a friend recently came across a pair in my size and was able to get them for me. I think they are, by far, the best Def Jam shoe that adidas has done. The Goodfoots were a shoe that I had only discovered while looking for another ZX 8000. I was familiar with the AZX project but this release was not one that I really had on my radar much less my grail list. The colorway really grew on me because it was so different so when I found them in my size I had to get them.
When you cop new shoes do you have any rituals you go through with them?
They all get re-laced, usually with the stock laces but sometimes with an alternate pair, then I’ll usually snap a picture of them. Only the suede or nubuck shoes get sprayed with protectant. All my shoes have trees in them as well. That’s a must.
Do you collect any other adidas products such as track tops or track suits?
Yes, I have about 15 track tops, most of them Firebird or Superstar. and a few pairs of Superstar track bottoms. I also have a bunch of t-shirts.
What’s the prize piece in your collection?
I know that there are more rare adidas in the world but my favorite pair is probably the Atmos black snake Superstars.
Yeah, those are lush! On the flip side, what’s the elusive holy grail that you’re hunting for but can’t seem to snag yet?
I’m still looking for the Undefeated 35th’s in my size as well as the Bodega AZX’s.
We’re dying to know, how does your family react to your collecting?
Well, they tease me about it quite a bit. It’s very funny. In fact, the teasing commences every time the doorbell rings at dinnertime and a package arrives. I also have a turntable rig in the living room. They’re good sports about all of it.
That’s pretty cool… and at work?
Well, the cool thing is that I can wear sneakers to work. Actually, I don’t know that I am supposed to wear sneakers to work but I do and I guess I’m high enough on the ladder that no one’s ever given me a hard time about it. My colleagues seem to like it a lot and are always asking about my shoes. Of course, working in Manhattan also gives you access to some really great stores.
Seriously, Manhattan is a good place to go bankrupt! Have you done any directing work with anyone at adidas?
I wish. That would be a dream come true for me. I actually applied for a position some time ago but it wasn’t really in my ‘wheelhouse’ so I wasn’t under serious consideration for it. It seems like a great company so I’m hoping that something will open up there someday doing some kind of in-house video production. It would be great to combine something that I’m passionate about with something that I have more than 22 years experience doing.
Besides the obvious (Run DMC and the Superstar) how else has adidas influenced the hip hop culture in general in your opinion?
I have always felt like they were synonymous. I say this not just as a massive fan of the brand. When I see an artist rocking adidas I see not only someone that’s made an obvious and intentional choice to be different but also someone who knows the history of the brand and how it, and hip hop, grew up together. I think their marketing for their Originals line is fantastic. That 2 minute ‘all in’ spot with the Justice song was probably one of the greatest commercials I had seen since, well… the Star Wars spot that they did before it.
Lastly, what would you love to see adidas do next?
More of the ‘true’ Originals stuff, not modern takes on those models. I love the Superstar but I hate it when they put an LTO shelltoe on it. More colorways of those shoes and more collabs with the smaller guys and more OG releases in the US. A dream come true would be to go onto the Mi adidas site and not only select the colors for my Superstar but also whether it’s a Vintage, 80′s, I, or II. Oh, and a little more love for the Forest Hills and the Pro Mods, please.
Big thanks Michael, keep filling your closet with stripes and hopefully we’ll see you making videos for the big blue trefoil sooner than later!
written by Dylan Cromwell
portraits by Samantha Sterling
shoe shots by Michael Sterling