We sat down with our new brand manager and asked him to answer questions about sneakers, his history, and his plans for ForceField.
ForceField: Before we get into your role at ForceField, tell us who you are and your involvement with sneakers.
Will: I’ve been into shoes for 20+ years now. For me, it started when my parents purchased a computer with dial-up internet back in the 90’s. The first website I ever visited was Nike.com because I didn’t know where else to go. I then stumbled upon Yahoo! and began to search for sneakers. I uncovered tons of website all dedicated to Nike and Air Jordan sneakers, one of which was NikePark. NikePark was different than all of the other websites because they had a message board that was very active. Kids posted all day long on the board about sneakers. I immediately got sucked in and began to join in on the conversation.
FF: But it didn’t stop there for you, right? You went on to start your own website.
Will: Correct. I liked the idea of creating my own space to talk about shoes, plus I was intrigued by the whole “break the news first” game: you know, being the first person to know and show the next Air Jordan design or color. I created a website through AOL page maker called “No Name Nike News” – original, right? I was 12. Over time that website grew and was renamed The Shoe Center.I ran that website from middle school until halfway through college. Along the way I met (virtually) so many people and developed friendships with guys all over the world who were also into sneakers, some of which I still talk to today. It was an absolute blast.
FF: Let’s go way back. What was your first pair?
Will: That would be the Air Jordan XII black/red. My dad let me skip first period and took me to Finish Line the morning they were released. This was an interesting first pair for me because my favorite color is blue, and the navy/white/Carolina XII’s released several months prior to these, but for whatever reason I went with the black/red pair. I actually still have these in my closet.
FF: Your favorite pair?
Will: I really like the Air Jordan XIII’s. I love the design elements and story behind them. The fact that they are designed after a panther just seems so cool to me. The pods are the paws, the dimples are the whiskers, and the hologram logo is the eye. I love it.
FF: What do you think of the sneaker “game” today?
Will: It certainly has changed a lot since I was more involved, like the fact that buying in bulk and reselling shoes is the norm now. It was 100% frowned upon back in the day, but I guess some elements are still the same. Kids hunt for rare shoes and are willing to pay a lot of money to obtain them. We all did that back in the day. It’s just different now because you have WordPress, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to help create a bigger voice for sneakerheads. We had dial up internet and Microsoft Frontpage.
FF: Speaking of rare shoes, you had some heat back in the day, right?
Will: I got very lucky and found a Nike connection through running my website, so I had a few pairs that very few / no one else had. For example, I had Jordan look-see samples and prototypes that were scratched from ever making it into production: pairs made for NBA and NFL athletes like Mike Bibby, Vin Baker, Kobe Byrant, Lebron James, Randy Moss, and Warren Sapp. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of them anymore.
FF: Let’s get more into this new gig, you are now the ForceField brand manager, what does that mean?
Will: It means that after 20 years of waiting and trying, I am finally working full-time in the sneaker industry. I’m in charge of ForceField as a brand. It’s my job to make sure we are focused on the right target market, supporting our retailers, and making sure we stay relevant in the marketplace with the right consumer-facing marketing. There’s a lot we are currently doing, but there’s a lot more we can do. For now, I’m focused on getting up to speed with the brand and mapping out our 2018 goals.