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The Sneakerheads Racing to Save Their Kicks From Decay

The Sneakerheads Racing to Save Their Kicks From Decay WIRED


Nagomo Oji knew he was stepping into history when he laced up a pair of Air Max 95s last month in Saitama City, Japan, a commuter sprawl 10 miles north of central Tokyo. What made Oji’s shoes so special was their pedigree. Anybody can walk into Foot Locker and buy a pair of Air Maxes for 160 bucks. Oji’s shoes were something quite different. To use the sneakerhead vernacular, they were “DS” (dead stock), a discontinued model that’s new, unworn, and unboxed. Even better, they were “OG. Not “original gangster,” just “original.” In other words, these vintage kicks were highly collectable, a pristine example of the very first Air Maxes that dropped two decades ago.

But something insidious has been happening to those shoes, and every other pair like them, over the years. They’ve been crumbling away to nothing as they sit tucked in boxes or hidden in closets. The materials used to make them degrade over time, causing the shoes to fall apart, rendering them worthless.

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No shoe was meant to last. The business model of shoe makers requires that shoes disintegrate.

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