It’s only fitting that on Air Max Day – Nike’s annual holiday dedicated to celebrating one of, if not the most, iconic shoe lines – HYPEBEAST arrives properly and presents an authentic purist Air Max for our last Sole Mates Payment. Our new featured guest is Ryan Hawkins – an avid sneaker collector born and raised in Laconia, New Hampshire.
To say that Hawkins is a die-hard Air Max fan would be a huge understatement. His collection currently stands at around 200+ pairs and includes everything from deadstock colorways to vintage gems to nostalgic kicks such as the baseball cleats he produced on
Just in time for the Air Max Day celebration on March 26th, HYPEBEAST had the opportunity to sit down with Hawkins to discuss his affinity for the Air Max 1, the silhouette he wants to see return with the Swoosh and Moreover.
HYPEBEAST: Who or what made you wear shoes?
RH: Honestly, it was Eastbay catalogs for me around 1994 or 1995. I was getting them in the mail every month and going through pages and pages of sale items since I only had a part-time job. partial at the time. There would be Air Maxes on sale for $19.99 USD instead of $100 USD because that was crazy back then.
You were born and raised near Laconia, New Hampshire, was sneaker culture prevalent there?
No not at all. I just remember a guy from my high school days who always bought Air Maxes and wore them to death. Other than that, sneakers weren’t really prevalent in my area. The Foot Locker at my local mall was really the only place I could buy sneakers in store and get the new releases.
What was your intention in launching your IG page and when did you start gaining traction?
It’s funny because it was purely out of love for the sneakers and there was no intention of growing it. Even after I first signed up for Instagram, my account was inactive for a few years. Then one day I realized how much I love sneakers and decided to do it. I think I gained ground through consistency and continuing to share what I love.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like a pristine pair, but I also like worn-out shoes because there’s a story to tell there. I have shoes that have been worn to death but luckily for some reason the previous owner kept them and I love that aspect of the shoes.
You have an impressive collection of over 200 pairs, where do you normally get your kicks from?
Purely online for what I want. I’m obviously a big fan of the Air Max 1 but I’m also a big fan of vintage Air Max. When I first started buying kicks, I was really very attracted to pickyourshoes.com, and when they stopped selling Nikes, I was pretty devastated, and so was the Collect market. Now I mostly sift through eBay, Offer Up, Mercari, Poshmark, etc. and I will find some of the craziest things there.
When it comes to buying older Air Maxes, do you prefer them dead or do you mind if they are a bit worn?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a pristine pair, but I also love worn-in shoes because there’s a story to tell there. I have shoes that have been worn to death but luckily for some reason the previous owner kept them and I love that aspect of the shoes.
Your IG page obviously has a ton of Air Maxes, but there are also plenty of sports and 90s references, whether it’s Kobe, Jordan, Will Smith, Mariah Carey, vintage Nike posters, and more. Talk about what you liked at that time and how it influenced your taste.
This is where I grew up, man. I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, listening to Mariah Carey who has tips from heaven, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Eric Clapton, Westside Connection, all those people. All these references make me happy and I love sharing this with everyone.
Nike always tends to retro a different silhouette every year, are you very particular that they update the shape and materials of certain models?
I really appreciate their efforts, and you know everyone loves to criticize the bubble size when it comes to Air Maxes. But big bubbles are my style and OG shapes are definitely preferable.
Is there a shoe or silhouette that you expect from Nike or do you wish you had more energy around it?
Definitely the Nike Air Max Racer from 1995. It’s such a rare shoe because they only made it for a year. I would love to see them come back, but if they do I would love for Nike to show their love and do it right.
What do you think of Nike’s approach to Air Max Day over the past few years?
I think they have done a good job so far. I know they started in 2016 with Air Max Con where they had it in Chicago and New York and Japan and I think that was the start of something really awesome, and the energy around the holidays in his ensemble was great. For this year’s releases, I really want the Nike Air Max 1 “Wabisabi” pair for Asia to drop everywhere as I’m an earth type, it’s by far my favorite out of the bunch. The pale blue wink on the “Blueprint” is nice. I wish they were available to everyone, but I understand the process of trying to get more eyes on them.
What speaks to you about the Nike Air Max 1?
I just think it’s so smooth as a silhouette. You must obviously recall the creation and evolution of Air. It is also the ease of wearing. When I saw the model in the mid-2000s, I thought it was going to be a model that I could really stick with. I even made my first pair of Nike IDs in 2002 as a high school baseball cleat during my senior year.
2010 is when I really saw it and enjoyed it and realized there was a real community on Facebook that was great into it and now I’m connected with all these great collectors like Stevey Ryder, Superllalla , etc and I really like the relationships I made there.
I heard you had a story to tell about the Air Max 1 “Crepe Hemp”. Tell me about that.
So I’m usually a size 12, but I had a size 11 pair of this shoe. It wasn’t in the best shape but the toe box was in good shape and that’s an important part of the kicks. I once received a message by chance from a high level collector who noticed that my pair and I were looking for a [size] 12. He sent me an unsold pair in exchange for mine that was clearly worn. I thought it was a scam and he was going to want something in return, but it wasn’t. Turns out he already had another deadstock size 11, but that was just the fact that he noticed how excited I was to get this pair, and our relationship has been nothing but love ever since.
I assume you are already planning to buy the 2022 pair?
I’ve already seen leaks of the upcoming pairs and I’m definitely planning on picking them up. Not sure when exactly they’re coming out, and it looks like they’ve made some toe tweaks, but they look great from what I’ve seen so far.
“I really think everyone can get what they want out of it. You look at a certain silhouette and the same Air Max 1 does not mean the same to you as it does to me. You can express yourself through a shoe in so many different ways—lacing it how you want, styling it how you want, sharing it how you want.
Since your page has gained traction, has it opened any doors for you professionally or personally?
It’s funny because I really only post the same kind of stuff, but I’m still glad people gravitate to it and enjoy it. I like to chat with people in the comments and in the DMs about the shoes because I post really kicks that I like and necessarily all the new collaborations. He opened the chance to work with the size? on some projects and they were kind enough to give me three of their exclusives. Deon Point from Concepts also contacted me recently and gave me the opportunity to purchase the “Mellow” colorway from their latest collection as he admired my love for the Air Max.
Why are sneakers and the stories they contain important to you?
I really think everyone can get what they want out of it. You look at a certain silhouette and the same Air Max 1 does not mean the same to you as it does to me. You can express yourself through a shoe in so many different ways by lacing it how you want, styling it how you want, sharing it how you want, and more. Nike is a mammoth, and it goes back to when I played hockey. when I saw Wayne Gretzky and Sergei Fedorov wearing their Nikes, it really stuck with me. The nostalgia factor is heavy for me.