Recently I sat down with one of the guys that really got me deep into sneakers, TheDonDrew. It was an absolute pleasure to speak to one of the most genuine guys in this whole sneaker thing. It’s a long interview and it is 110% worth the read. TheDonDrew told me some amazing stories and I think they’ll make you smile, just like they made me smile.
Be sure to tune in to The Sitdown tomorrow at 7 p.m. on Power 105.1. The guest will be Kicksordie. I repeat, the guest will be Kicksordie.
Check out the interview below and share your thoughts in the comments. Enjoy.
[Noah Goldowitz for WearTesters.com]: So first off, what’s your name and how old are you?
[TheDonDrew]: Drew Kanevsky, 36 years old.
[NG]: Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
[DD]: I’m from Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised there, went to Abraham Lincoln High School, in Coney Island. Graduated Abraham Lincoln High School. I live in Jersey, in the Meadowlands basically, North Jersey.
[NG]: What’s a normal day for you? Say Thursday for instance, walk us through it if you can.
[DD]: So Thursday…well I work in the city. I’ve got a day job, work like 7-4, so I wake up 5-5:30, get ready, get into the city for work, give that all I’ve got; 4 o’clock I hop on the E train and head downtown to Power 105 studios. I get there about 20 after 4:30. I sit at Starbucks for about an hour, hour and a half, do whatever immediate show prep I have. And we go in and get ready for a 7 o’clock taping; we go into the studio at 6 for a 7 o’clock taping/launch.
[NG]: Alright, very cool. And what do you do?
[DD]: Like what do I do, like outside of the Sitdown right? Well I spent the better part of almost 20 years in the athletic retail industry. I worked at Footaction from ’95 to 2004 and from ’04-2013 I worked at Finish Line, so my DNA is a retail-sneaker DNA. I do work for another retailer now, I don’t necessarily want to talk about that. They’re a great company, really supportive, an industry-related company. I do some work in a little bit of a more diverse setting so not just shoes now; I have some other things under my umbrella. With the show and everything like that you know I want to be able to say everything that I want to say on the show. So I wouldn’t want the brand to put any pressure on me because of something I may have said on the show.
[NG]: Okay. So what got you into sneakers in the first place?
[DD]: When I was 11 years old, actually I probably was a little younger than that, I went to Marine Park Junior High School in Brooklyn and this kid Richie Brackett comes strolling in with the Jordan III. I just thought they were super dope, so I went home and told my mom. They were real fresh, I didn’t even know what they were. We went to the store that day, Sneaker Corner on Avenue I and Nostrand Ave., and I picked them up off the wall. My mom saw the price tag and was like “hell no, I am not buying these shoes.” So I got a paper route. I did daily deliveries. When I got the paper route I had seventeen houses on the route. For every new house that I sold, you get a five dollar commission, and then at the end of the week when you went collecting, your money that you made was based on the tips that you got. So you get your commission, plus your tips, and that’s how much you made every week in cash. Well, at seventeen houses, you don’t make a whole lot of tip money. If everybody gives you a dollar, you made seventeen dollars for the week. So I turned a seventeen house paper route into a hundred and fifty houses.
[DD]: I was just hustling. So I sold a hundred and thirty-three new houses and I got five dollars for each one of those that I sold. I was making about a hundred and twenty to a hundred and fifty dollars in tips every week. At thirteen years old, that’s pretty good money. So for me, the first Jordan shoe that I bought, the shoe that got me in the game, was the white/red Air Jordan IV, which I bought with my own money in 1989. And from that point on I had at least one Jordan from every series, from IV to XIII, except for IX because Jordan didn’t play in them. For me, that’s what it was about. It was about Jordan on court, in those shoes, that got me on to the product. I know it’s not about that today but that’s what got me going. Seeing this kid wear the shoes in school and thinking, “man, they’re fresh!” and then watching Mike doing his thing and being flashy with the sneakers that he wore.
[NG]: Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong decade you know? I would’ve loved to be this age in the 90s, especially in New York, and I would’ve loved to see all that stuff in first person like you guys did.
[DD]: Yeah I mean it was really cool. For me like I was just into it you know? The guys that I looked up to in the game when I was a kid, from Brooklyn, you know like the older kids on the block, the guys in the hip-hop industry that lived in the area, you know they always had the freshest sneakers on. There weren’t sneaker guys. There was no social media, so there weren’t guys that were known as “sneaker guys” you know? There were just guys that had fresh sneakers. And I always noticed that. So I had that paper route; for me that paper route was tied to it me buying shoes because my mom wouldn’t spend that kind of money on them. My mom would give me fifty dollars for a few pairs of sneakers for back to school and then I would get one other pair a year. That paper route empowered me, gave me the freedom to express myself with my shoes and buy what I wanted to buy, when I wanted to buy it.
[NG]: How many people can say that they bought their first Jordan with their own money?
[DD]: It depends on how old you are when you get into the game. Some of the kids today buy their own Jordans. I’m sure I’m not the only person my age that did. It was really an empowering feeling. I always worked hard for everything I had, you know? My folks didn’t have that much dough growing up, although they both worked hard. My mom and dad were both fairly successful in their own right. But that was just one thing [sneakers] that my mother didn’t find value in. You know it’s funny because later in the years, after I got into the industry and started working in the industry, she came around, and my mom was a teacher in a school that was really, really hood. It was deep in the hood.
[NG]: Which school?
[DD]: East New York, in Brooklyn. And it was like a rough school you know? Right across from the Louis Pink houses actually, right off of Linden Boulevard, an elementary school.
[NG]: I know where that is!
[DD]: She wasn’t a regular elementary school teacher, she ran a program for kids that had learning disabilities so in order for my mom—my mom thought that a way for her to connect with some of the kids and relate to them was through the sneakers. My mom has OG Columbia XIs and OG Bred XIs.
[DD]: So in the mid-90s my mom was someone that wouldn’t spend a dollar on kicks, for me, wouldn’t spend more than fifty, but my mom kinda realized that she found a way, through sneakers, to connect with kids that had trouble learning and had trouble doing those things. She would come in and everybody would be like, “Mrs. C. got the freshest kicks out here!” and she kinda embraced that you know?
[NG]: That is so, so cool.
[DD]: I probably never told anybody that.
[NG]: Do you have a favorite shoe, or at least a go-to shoe?
[DD]: Jordan III! The black cement Jordan III is the greatest sneaker of all time. It has the three most iconic things going for it: it has sport, style, and significance right? It’s Tinker Hatfield, it’s the free-throw line, it’s elephant print. The Jordan III is the most iconic sneaker of all time, the greatest sneaker of all time. It’s better than the Converse Chuck Taylor, than the Air Force 1. I know guys like Mayor disagree, respectfully that’s my opinion. The Jordan III is the greatest sneaker of all time. For me, it couldn’t be anything else.
[NG]: It’s interesting because I’ve found that having a lot of friends that don’t know anything about sneakers, the Jordan III is the only shoe that they know anything about. I’ve showed them a Jordan III and they say, “wow, that’s a Jordan III.” It’s the silhouette in particular that people just recognize as a basketball sneaker.
[DD]: It’s iconic in every way. It’s the greatest sneaker of all time in my opinion.
[NG]: Do you only rock Jordan and Nike, or do you dabble in other brands?
[DD]: No no no no. Listen, my rotation is heavily Jordan and Nike, heavily, 90%, maybe 95%. But I love other brands, I love the brands. I love when brands innovate, I love when brands create, I love when there’s competition in the marketplace. Anything to push Nike to be better. I think at times Nike is so used to being the best, so used to being the biggest, baddest, toughest kid on the block, that they don’t work as hard. And I think they get lazy sometimes.
[NG]: I agree with that.
[DD]: When other brands come through, I think it’s great. I love some of the boutique collabs, although I don’t own many, and I don’t know em all. I do like them. Typically, the silhouettes that are collabs, although I think are dope, aren’t shoes that would fit my foot or my style you know? Like a Ronnie Fieg Puma Disc. I respect the creativity, I respect the material, and the inspiration that he would use on that, but that’s not a shoe that would fit me comfortably or look right on me or it doesn’t represent who I am, as a person, stylistically. So for me, I don’t dress like that, so because I don’t dress like that some of those shoes—now look, yes, I do have some adidas, New Balance. I have Ascis, I have some Brooks, some Reeboks, I have some stuff. You know, from a performance standpoint, I have run in Asics and Brooks. And I haven’t run in a bit, but when I did I was running in Asics and Brooks. I always played basketball in Nikes—I actually played basketball in Shox basketball shoes, still do. That’s actually my favorite hoop shoe, the Shox Status basketball shoe.
[NG]: You know that shoe, when I was a kid, made me believe—when I saw the advertisement—that it could make you jump higher.
[DD]: (chuckles) It couldn’t make me jump higher. But there’s some dope stuff; the Ronnie Fieg New Balance Daytona, it’s the only Ronnie collab I have, it’s one of my favorite shoes from my stash, I love it. You know, I love when brands take chances like they do. A lot of those brands do some good things, although I don’t have a ton of em. I love Iverson, I mean I like a lot of stuff. Just because I don’t have it doesn’t mean I don’t like it or respect it.
[NG]: Yeah I understand that. So you’re a big guy, Jay’s a big guy. A lot of people in news they talk about some of the Ewing models and Shaq models as being shoes for big guys. From your experience, what’s a good big man shoe?
[DD]: Well I’ve never tried on a pair of Ewings or a pair of Shaqs, I don’t have either of them. You know I don’t really look at it like that, I wear what I like you know? There are times where we all sacrifice comfort for style a little bit, I think I do the same. Jay’s a fan of the Jordan III, I think that it holds me really good. I don’t really worry about stuff like that, like, “oh this is a big guy shoe” or it’s not. If the shoe fits me right, I like the way it looks and feels, I’ll wear it. I don’t really think about it like that.
[NG]: Some shoes, I know I have a few friends that are big guys, they just can’t wear some shoes because they don’t hold up. Either the paint cracks—
[DD]: Well I know I can’t wear the Jordan I! They’re uncomfortable, they don’t look right on me, I just can’t wear them. I can tell you what I can’t wear more so, I have so many pairs. I don’t think VIs are big guy shoes, or VIIs, but I wear those. I think those are made for the little guys. I can’t wear KDs, I can’t wear Jordan IIs. The Asics Gel-Lyte…III is the one with the split tongue?
[DD]: Yeah I wouldn’t wear that.
[NG]: For those that don’t know, you’re a little bit older than a lot of young kids that are into sneakers and buying sneakers today. You don’t seem like you’re that interested in joggers or raffles for sneakers on social media. What are your feelings on the current state of sneakers today? How have things changed from when you were a kid?
[DD]: I think the biggest change is social media. Social media makes things different, gives people the ability to show off. For me, when I was a kid, it was breaking somebody’s neck on the street. Today it’s likes on Instagram. I remember when the red-toe Iversons first came out, I wanna say that was ’97, the early part of ’97. I don’t remember exactly. Now I was able to get my pair early, a week early. And I was on the bus, going to Brooklyn College, and I just kept noticing people’s heads turn to see that red toe. Everybody was sweatin’ those shoes. To me, that gave me that feeling, when you got a fresh, fresh pair on.
[NG]: I love that feeling.
[DD]: Today, I think kids, well people, get that feeling when they put something on Instagram and it blows up. I mean I don’t know, I’m guessing, that people get that feeling from that. When they get that reaction, when they get those comments on there, I think that’s the biggest change in the game. Social media has connected people from all over the country and all over the world in a way that wasn’t possible before. As far as raffles and joggers, no. I don’t like the way joggers fit. You know a couple weeks ago, I was talking to somebody and they said fashion stops at a 36, but they’re right. So for me, joggers are not a fashionable look. Just because something’s in style doesn’t mean it’s great.
[NG]: That’s definitely true.
[DD]: It don’t look right on me. I’m a big dude, north of six feet, well over two hundred and fifty pounds, like that’s just not a look that I’m gonna wear. For me, shorts and a hoodie with my sneakers is gold, like that’s my style you know?
[NG]: I mean joggers don’t look right on me either.
[DD]: And the raffles, like resellers, lining up, I’m just not going to do that you know? I’m in a place in my sneaker life where I’m not going to do that. I’m the type of person that if I want something, I want it. I’m not going to put twenty dollars in a hole, that’s just not how I’m wired. Not because I don’t think people should do it, people should do whatever they want to do! I won’t do that. I would just rather buy the shoe, whatever the price is. That’s how I am. If I want something, I’ll just go buy it. I’m very careful about resellers. I used to crusade against them; I now think they’re a necessary part of the sneaker game. They quench the thirst and the demand right now. I only deal with a very small few that I can trust, but I won’t put in for a raffle. I won’t line up for a shoe. And I won’t pay exorbitant prices over box.
[NG]: I mean I’m not connected with the same people you are and I still won’t line up for a pair of shoes or throw in for a raffle, I mean it’s shoes you know?
[DD]: I would never use a connection or that to help—I’ve never asked for anything in my life. I’ve never asked for anything, from anyone, ever in my life. When it comes to sneakers, never, and I won’t. Now there have been opportunities when friends have offered, “hey I can grab you this, I can grab you that,” but I’ve never called up someone and said, “hey I need a favor” when it comes to sneakers. You know I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve got enough years in the game, and I’ve got enough pairs in my room, that if I miss one that I want, I’ll just move on to the next. There’ll be another one and I’ll forget about it in a couple weeks. I really wanted the Oregon Foamposite, but man, I’ll live.
[NG]: That’s true. I think a lot of the kids today, they’re just really into, and I hate using this word, but the hype that that shoe is the shoe and they need that shoe no matter what.
[DD]: Until the next one comes out. I think once you learn that you can pass on something and then that feeling goes away a few days later, you figure it out. Now listen, on the other side of the coin, when you want something, you want it. And if you want it that bad, then you’ll go buy it. I’m not mad at somebody spending four hundred dollars on a hundred and seventy dollar Jordan if they really want it. I’ve never done it! But that doesn’t mean it’s not to be done! If I really, really wanted it that bad I would do that. That’s how I am, I’m gonna buy what I want, when I want. But listen I work very hard and I have a career, I’m afforded that luxury. I’m blessed, not everybody can do it. I’m not going to go outside of my means either, I’m not.
[NG]: Do you believe there is a “sneaker community?” If so, have the various social media outlets given birth to the sneaker community, or positively or negatively affected the “community?”
[DD]: I think all of the above. I’m not going to answer, “yes” that there is, or, “no” that there isn’t. I think that the sneaker world is a sub-culture just like hip-hop, just like comic books, video games. Within the world of fashion and whatnot, it has spawned this sub-culture of people that have an extreme passion or thirst or enthusiasm for the product. At the end of the day, sneakers is a product, and we all purchase them. I don’t think there’s a handbag community for women that like Louis Vuitton or Michael Kors, it’s a product that they purchase, no different than sneakers. Although, there is availability that outpaces the demand for the most part, so it’s not quite the same. But I think that the sneaker world is a sub-culture because the people that are in it, the people that mess with sneakers, that are into the product, are the same people that read comic books and play video games and listen to hip-hop—for the most part, not everybody. I think that people that are into sneakers have two of those three, whether it be video games and sneakers or comic books and sneakers or hip-hop and sneakers; there’s overlap, if you were to draw a map or graph, there would be overlap. And because those are all mini sub-cultures, the people that are into the product kinda morphed into this thing. I don’t think social media started it or spawned it, I think social media poured gasoline on the fire that was already there. People that were into sneakers in the 90s, without social media, would congregate and acknowledge each other and talk about the product. Those guys, guys like Mayor, like DJ Clark Kent, OGs in the game, we were all aware of them. They didn’t just get fresh, they were always fresh! It’s a subculture that was alive back then but it’s so pronounced now because of social media and because the sneaker industry as a whole has exploded. It’s bigger than it’s ever been! But it’s a rollercoaster and it’s cyclical; what comes up must come down, and there’s going to be a pop, a burst, to this bubble.
[NG]: I’m sure there is.
[DD]: There is and there has been over the last twenty years. I remember ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09 even. My Green Bean Vs, I paid thirty 32 dollars for. They were sitting on a clearance rack.
[NG]: (laughs) That’s amazing.
[DD]: And that was in ’06. I have the receipt I could just look at it. There was a time when that bubble burst, the market crashed. The industry was really down in 2008 when the stock market tanked, in the fall of 2008. The industry was so down it was scrambling. And then it came back up to where it is now, and I think it’s going to happen again. And it will crash again, the brands will reinvent themselves, and it’ll come back. And when it does come back, it’ll spawn a new generation; the sub-culture today is made up of people that entered into it at all different points in its existence and their existence. There are people like myself that have been around since the 80s and I’ll probably still be around when that next peak or rise is. And then there are people, when it crashes, they’ll say, “I’m done, I’m washing my hands of it,” and they’ll be done. But maybe they’ll come back, or maybe they won’t. And then when it rises again there will be a new bunch of newbies, that the newbies that are out today that have been in the game for a year, will say, “oh look at these guys.” That’s just the way this industry works and when you’ve been in it as long as I have and you have the view from both that side of the register and this side of the register, you can see those things.
[NG]: Is it usually the stock market that goes down that then affects sneakers in this way? Or are there other factors?
[DD]: No not always. The industry was down before the market crashed, well before that. Priorities will change, people will change their shopping habits. Who knows what the next thing is? Something may come out. I don’t know what will get popular or what people will be wearing or what the new style will be. I remember when Foot Locker was doing two for ninety. People were like, “why should I buy a ninety dollar pair of Jordans when I can get two sneakers for ninety dollars? Why buy Jordans when I could buy these?” So priorities change, values change. The other thing is I think the sneaker industry is headed in a very similar place that the Yankees are headed. Here’s what I mean by that: when the Yankees went from old Yankee Stadium to new Yankee Stadium in 2009, I don’t know how old you are Noah, I don’t know if you remember that you couldn’t get into the building.
[NG]: I do remember that.
[DD]: You couldn’t get near it; you had to pay a premium. You couldn’t get a Yankee ticket without paying well over face value because the demand was so high! And the product was a fixed number, there were only fifty-five thousand seats, that’s all there was. And then they moved into the new stadium, so the Yankees said, “let’s raise the prices of the tickets so that we get all that revenue! Cut out that middle man, that reseller.” And they did. They raised the price. Well people still go to Yankee games, but it’s not the same now. You can walk up to the game and buy a ticket, for any Yankee home game now. And they’re not cheap, they’re very expensive. I sat in section 216 and they were a hundred and thirty dollars. And that’s the price of the ticket. You can sit in a lousy seat and pay a low price or you can buy a premium ticket and pay their price. And now, you can get tickets for below face value. Jordan brand is raising the price to two hundred dollars for premium retros. Sow hat I think is gonna happen, and I don’t know if it’s gonna happen in year one or year two, but eventually some people will say, “I don’t need this. I don’t want this. I’m not spending that kind of money on these shoes!” and they’re going to buy something less expensive.
[NG]: I hope that does happen.
[DD]: And then you’ll see Jordans sit on shelves and become available. And that will kill the reseller. They’ll sell less units but sell them for more money, and at the end of the day their totals will be the same. They’re not going to grow the gross the way they’d like to, but the gross will be the same. At the very least I think it will grow a little. And there’s a very important lesson there. I can see that happen.
[NG]: I’m very interested in social media because it really baffles me, in a lot of ways. I find that social media has allowed a lot of female sneaker enthusiasts to become known and have a presence. I think women do need to become a stronger presence in this sneaker thing. What are your thoughts on female sneaker enthusiasts and their place in this sneaker sub-culture?
[DD]: Well I think anybody that wants to do anything should do whatever they want.
[NG]: And I agree with that.
[DD]: And if women are into the shoes and they enjoy it, they should participate. I don’t look at that any kind of way. I mean we don’t ask different ethnicities their take on sneakers, so why would we single women out? If women are into shoes that’s great. I want to look at each person as an individual and support their interests, their hobbies, their passion because it’s true and genuine. To me, it doesn’t matter what gets you engaged in the product, as long as you’re passionate and genuine you know? If you’re into it because you like taking pictures on Instagram, so what? If you’re into it because you got hyped off something, so what? If you’re into it because Kanye rocked it with Kim and walked down the street, so what? If you’re into it because you saw Mike jump from the foul line, so what? You’re into it, that’s it. And if girls are into it because they’re into it, so what? That’s great! It doesn’t matter what got them into it. If they’re in, they’re in and we accept them. I accept them, just like I accept everyone of all races, cultural upbringings, places they went to college. To me, diversity isn’t just about male or female or black or white. Diversity is about where you grew up, how you came up. Where you work, where you went to school. Diversity is about your brain and your mind and your experiences and your intelligence. So I welcome diversity in the sneaker game. I want people who walk different, see different things, experience different things, I want them all to share their passion for sneaker so I can see myself better.
[NG]: Yeah! And that’s one of the things I’m seeing. More and more people are getting into sneakers and showing that interest and that love. But, a lot of people really do single out women for enjoying sneakers and I don’t really get it. A lot of the brands are trying to create more sneakers exclusively for women. Nike did that with the KD line, they had a few dope colorways just for women I think, and I think those things are good. I see it on social media and I see it in real life where you’ll see a woman wearing Jordan VIs and people will judge her for that. I think that’s so strange because if you like that product and feel a connection to that product, you should be able to do whatever the hell you want, without people judging you because you spent your money on something.
[DD]: For me, I’ve never seen it. Some of the dope females that I follow like Megan Wilson, I think her handle is shegotgame, Jazzy Rae of KicksonFire nerdlikejazzy, Toya F Baby from Baltimore. These are dope women that are bright, that are independent, that are incredibly hard workers, that are every bit as influential in this thing of ours as dudes are. And I don’t look at them any different and I follow them because I respect them, not because they’re female.
[NG]: Alright. Let’s move to sneaker radio. You co-host The Sitdown on Power 105.1 with SneakerSensei.
[DD]: Yes, I do.
[NG]: How did this team up come about? Why did you two want to bring sneaker discussion to radio? How long have you been doing radio, podcasts, or live streams?
[DD]: So when I worked at Finish Line and I was helping out with content on FinishLine.com I pitched the idea to them and they didn’t want to bite at the time. And I get it, a retailer can be conservative and they didn’t want to take the chance. When I left Finish Line I still had the idea living inside of me. I called Jay, Jay and I have been friends for a long time, and I said, “Remember when we talked about doing that talk show? Let’s do it now. We can do whatever we want. Let’s do it.” he said, “Yeah!” So in January of this year we got on YouTube and just started talking about shoes for a half hour, an hour. And everybody responded over the top because they loved it! Jay and I are fans of mafia movies and stuff like that and that’s where the name of the show came from. Let’s have a sit down and talk about it, talk about what’s going on. Let’s bring this one to the table, let’s bring that one to the table, let’s have a sit down. Jay and I had a sit down in January for the world to see and embarked on this thing. With the second episode, a situation arose on social media where a friend of the show, Chad named sneakergalactus online, he was dealing with a guy named Air_Andy and he got pissed off or whatever, allegedly, so we brought em in and got on YouTube and talked about it. And that was kinda what it was. The vision for the Sitdown was a cross between 60 Minutes, Mike & Mike on ESPN, The Breakfast Club, Howard Stern Show, Jimmy Fallon, all of these great talk shows inspired it. We wanted it to be educational and informative, we wanted it to be funny, we wanted it to be loose. We wanted it to be like a radio show on T.V., like Mike & Mike. And we wanted to give the sneaker community a place to be heard and we wanted to be the voices of that. So we created it with no expectations and no idea. Somewhere along the line, jay and I looked at the response from the show and the landscape and said, “You know, we’ve got something that people really like. It needs to be better, we’ll make it better.” So as we were midway through the first season of the Sitdown, the phone started ringing. Different media outlets started contacting us about the possibility of us have our show exclusively on their platform. And you know we were really honored and humbled and we looked at every opportunity and every situation and then Power 105 came in kinda out of nowhere. That was really through Jay and some of the people that Jay knows. They were looking for lifestyle content and came to us through Jay. Jay and I discussed it over drinks and cigars on Jay’s deck. And it’s been a journey so far, it’s been an adventure. There have been great moments. The challenge is that Jay and I are trying to do something that is not easy to do. Some people don’t realize how hard it is to do what we do, you know? There have been some very humbling moments and challenges, but the great moments so far have been really great and I hope people see that.
[NG]: Were there any really significant challenges that could have possibly stopped it all together, stopped progression?
[DD]: Jay and I are both very, very committed to the show and we love giving the audience great content. We have a unique perspective that isn’t necessarily something you can get anywhere else. Jay’s got a really, really, really impressive resume of his own and I’ve had a very successful retail career in the industry. That formula right there is strong and that’s something that no matter what, you can’t really replicate it. Even if you can replicate the format, you can’t replicate Jay and I. So no, I don’t think that there was anything that was going to stop the show; when I say challenges I mean challenges from week to week, challenges with the vision that we have for the show. It’s frustrating when our vision isn’t the product that we deliver to the audience, like when what we want this to look like and something else goes out. We will either succeed or fail before your eyes and the whole world can see it. That is very, very humbling. Anybody who tunes in, anybody who uses the hashtag can see. The thing is, we’re auditioning every single week, in front of everybody. Some of those auditions are going to be great and some of them aren’t, but we’re going to learn from every single one and get better. We don’t have a production team, we don’t have this enormous team of people that put together this whole thing, it’s just me and Jay. We produce the show, we host the show, we give it everything we’ve got. When we’re in the studio we have some help, but we don’t always have it. The one thing I hope that people know is that we don’t really care about numbers, we don’t care about anything besides bringing great content to sneaker enthusiasts.
[NG]: I’ve watched the show get bigger but even better than get bigger, I’ve watched the quality go up watched the fans really respond to what you guys are doing That’s the most beautiful thing about the show, how much fans really, deeply enjoy it. I can speak from experience; it’s awesome sitting and listening to people discuss things that you really care about! And better than just two people, two people that are interesting and have that perspective. It’s a great thing, something that I didn’t know could exist until I saw you guys do it.
[DD]: I appreciate that man, I really do. I mean listen, we really wanted to do it great—and we have grown, and we have hit some roadblocks along the way. We’ve had some terrible moments and those are humbling experiences, they really are. There’s nothing worse than when you have an audience that is eager and hungry to consume your product and you can’t deliver it to them the way you want to. When we have a great show we are already thinking about making it better for the next one. And when we have a lousy show, we’re thinking about how we’re going to prevent that from ever happening again. It is a constant effort; we work incredibly hard, for not a lot of money, if any sometimes, at bringing people great content and getting better. We want to deliver the content more than anything else.
[NG]: And I would like to thank you guys for that.
[DD]: You’re welcome. The reason the Sitdown is a radio show is we think it’s like The Breakfast Club, like Mike & Mike, The Howard Stern Show, for sneakers, we think it’s all of those. If we brought you the show on Sirius XM we think you’d like it just as much. We don’t think the show needs a video element, but we try and give it to you in case we want to show a product or whatever. But we think it’s a radio show, we go at it like it’s a radio show. A lot of people like the show on mobile, on their commute, on SoundCloud, so we do think it’s a radio show but we give you the video element because it gives the opportunity to show products and things.
[NG]: I really do love the radio element. Just listening to people discuss is something that is so natural, and watching it sometimes feels unnatural, watching a discussion thing, is hard to really watch. It’s more something that you just sit and you listen and it’s relaxing, it’s calming, it’s a great thing. I’m really happy it exists.
[DD]: We want that hour to fly by Noah!
[NG]: And it does! Sometimes I feel like there’s not enough!
[DD]: Our vision of the Sitdown is you grabbing your dog for a walk on Thursday night, it’s now 7 o’clock it was 10 o’clock, and you grab her and go for a walk and you put your headphones in and you’re listening to the Sitdown. Our vision was you’re in your car and you’re going to see some girl and you’re listening to the Sitdown. Our vision was that you’re on your train on Friday morning, your commute to work, and you’re listening to the Sitdown.
[NG]: Who do you listen to on the radio? Any particular shows? You must tune in to the FAN.
[DD]: I listen to WFAN, absolutely. I listened to Stern for twenty years, that’s why I referenced him a little bit. I don’t think we want to be viewed in all circles the way he was viewed earlier in his career. I think we like to be edgy, but we don’t want to be over the top.
[NG]: And he [Stern] certainly was.
[DD]: When I reference him, it’s not so much about wanting to emulate him, it’s more about the style, where it was him and Robin, where it’s Mike & Mike, where it’s Angela Yee and DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God.
[NG]: Dynamic duos.
[DD]: Yeah that’s kinda what we were going for. I don’t listen to the radio as much as I used to. I really enjoy The Breakfast Club and Angie, obviously I’m partial to the home team. When I’m in the car that’s what I listen to. I do listen to 105. I love Complex T.V., I love Complex Magazine in general, I love what they do and I’m a huge fan of that content. I consume that kinda stuff, for me that’s where I go. I don’t really watch a whole lot of T.V.. I do listen to the FAN, I listen to Joe & Evan, Mike Francesa. Listen, I watch and listen to every single episode of the Sitdown and I take notes and analyze and jay will be the first one to tell you—Jay makes fun of me—I obsess over it. I think about every detail of it.
[NG]: And maybe that’s why it’s so great.
[DD]: I think sometimes it makes me sick, to be honest with you. I always say, “Oh I wished I would’ve asked him this or asked him that,” you know?
[NG]: I know about that! I know there are probably going to be questions I wish I asked you. So you have had some pretty great guests on the show, from Mache257, who by the way, is from Poughkeepsie which is right near where I currently live—
[DD]: Yup he’s from Poughkeepsie.
[NG]: And you had WeAreTheTrend and SneakerDave. You’ve had Mayor recently, you’ve had IcySoleOnline, you had Campless a couple times, who I really like, a bunch of other great guests. How do you decide who you want on the show? Do you and Jay decide together?
[DD]: Well season one it was more me telling Jay who we had. There were guests that I booked that Jay didn’t even know who they were! He would learn who they were when they came on the show. Season two it’s definitely more collaborative; I’ll pitch guests to Jay, we’ll talk about it. There have been people we’ve passed on, people that have asked to come on the show and we’ve said no. And there have been people that we’ve asked that have said no to us. I think the decision is based on who we think the audience would enjoy the most. At the end of the day, that’s what it is. Jay and I have had disagreements, Jay and I have had arguments over guests! At the end of the day when we find that place where we agree and we have someone on, we’re ready to go. We just pick who’s going to relate to the audience the best, who they want to see. And that’s who we try and book. When somebody comes out and says, “hey I want to be on the show,” I think, “what will the audience think about this person, will they like this person, will they not?” People may think one way about a guest but I think we can show them in a different light and make the audience learn something new about somebody. Part of what we do is try and educate, you know? And that’s why I was so mad about what happened last Thursday because there is a side of John Geiger that I need to show you guys and I couldn’t do that. We try and show the audience the best of every guest, and sometimes, the best of the guest is the worst of the guest. And that’s okay! We want to show the audience who people are in a way that they might not see through their social lens.
[NG]: Real talk. That’s what it is.
[DD]: Yeah and that’s how we decide who comes on the show.
[NG]: You’ve had a few YouTube sneaker guys and girls on the show. What are your thoughts on the current YouTube sneaker situation? I once heard you say it was oversaturated, which is a hundred percent true. Do you think there’s anything really great going on on YouTube with sneakers?
[DD]: I’m not the person to ask about that, I don’t really know. I don’t watch it anymore. I didn’t watch it for a long time, I didn’t even know it existed, and then all of a sudden I noticed some guys. I started watching some channels and I got fascinated, but the more I watched, the more bored I got. And I don’t think it’s fair, I’m not the target audience, you know? Some of these guys cater to a younger audience and they do a really great job, in their space. It’s just not for me. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect it or don’t like them. I do think it’s oversaturated. when I see fifteen different reviews for the same shoe on my timeline, I roll my eyes.
[NG]: So do I.
[DD]: I think that the entire industry is a copycat industry so obviously, YouTube would be a place where people would copy. So the people that were doing it first, now they’re sharing with thirty, forty, a hundred other guys.
[NG]: Another thing that interests me is how—I mean you’ve worked in retail—a lot of these sneaker YouTubers are getting seeded product. Do you think that, from a retail perspective, that that’s a good move?
[DD]: I think it was. A great move. I think it was great, and if it is done right, strategically it could be great. I remember when I was helping out with that stuff at Finish Line and we brought Brandon Edler on board. Then we started doing the seeding and the influencer outreach. He had such great ideas and great vision. And the two of us would collaborate and talk about where to go with the seeded product and at the time, he didn’t have the resources or the wherewithal that he does now to be able to do it. I think he nailed it for awhile. When you go to the same people, over and over and over again, with that product, people get tired and you wear them out. I think that’s what has happened now. how many times are we going to see WeAreTheTrend, and I love the kid, how many times are we gonna see him review a shoe from Champs? How many times am I going to see YoAnty review a shoe from Champs? How many times am I gonna see Nightwing do a performance review for Finish Line? How many times am I gonna see these same guys over and over and over again do the same thing? It’s not a knock on them, that’s what they do! And they do it great! But I just think that it’s gotten tired; I think the retailers could really benefit from doing some different things like, oh I don’t know, drop some shit on different guys! There are influential people on every platform of social media. Guys who have great followings on Instagram, guys who have great followings on Twitter, different guys who have great followings on YouTube. Don’t go to the same guys every time you know? That’s just my opinion. I think if it’s done right, influencer outreach is an incredibly smart and strategic marketing technique.
[NG]: In past shows you’ve mentioned you like Joe La Puma. He recently did a Sneaker Shopping episode for Complex with Chris Brown. Any thoughts on this celeb sneaker stuff?
[DD]: Yes, I like Joe. Sneaker Shopping with Joe La Puma is my favorite sneaker related show, or piece of content, outside of the Sitdown. I look forward to it. I think Joe is great on camera, I thought Chris Brown was great, I thought Wale was great. I haven’t seen the Game yet, I want to watch it today. It’s my favorite; it’s so different from the Sitdown, and obviously I’m partial, obviously I think the Sitdown is the best. If I didn’t think it was the best, I should hang em up right?
[NG]: No no! It’s great that you think that it’s the best!
[DD]: I think it’s the best when it’s good. But I think Sneaker Shopping is fucking awesome. I think it’s an original idea. I think it’s different.
[NG]: I think it’s interesting because it uses sneakers as a medium—and he talks with these huge celebrities—and he uses sneakers in a way to, not humanize them, but show them as normal people. And sneakers are a great way to do that.
[DD]: Sneaker shopping is a great show. It’s only five minutes, I wish it were ten.
[NG]: So do you read any of the sneaker websites, sneaker blogs, you like Joe La Puma so are you on Complex often? Are you on any other sites?
[DD]: Complex is my site of choice, but not because of Joe. It’s my site of my site of choice because I can get style, music, sports, sneakers, all in one place. It’s the only site I read every day, any other articles are links that I grab off of Twitter. I don’t read any other blogs or sites every single day. And I don’t read everything on Complex, I scan through the headlines and find ones that I like.
[NG]: Both you and SneakerSensei are New Yorkers, tried and true. Can you talk about the New York sneaker culture, then and now? A lot of people are trying to say Boston is where sneakers are at now; I beg to differ.
[DD]: Nah nah nah nah. It’s not a lot of people saying that, just one guy said that. And he’s in Boston, he should think that, but it’s not. When I gave you my take on sneaker culture earlier, that is from a New York perspective. I think it’s the center of the sneaker world. The top five sneaker cities in my opinion are New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston, and D.C..
[NG]: Does New York bring something to sneakers or the sneaker community that people may not know about?
[DD]: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s well documented what New York is to the sneaker game. I can’t add any insight to what New York means to the sneaker game, I think everybody already knows.
[NG]: Now to leave sneakers for a bit. New York sports teams. Who are you a fan of? Who do you support?
[DD]: Jets, Yankees, Nets, Rangers.
[NG]: Any hopes for the current/past season?
[DD]: Well the season’s over. The Yankees have a lot of work to do.
[NG]: What do you think they’re going to do?
[DD]: I don’t know what moves they’re going to make but they need to get younger, better. I’m a Jets season ticket holder.
[NG]: And this season?
[DD]: This season’s team has the potential to be really good. I think they make some mistakes and shoot themselves in the foot, which is traditional Jets football.
[NG]: Yes it is.
[DD]: I think that they have an opportunity to be very good. I think Gino Smith is really good and I’m looking forward to the defense being really good this year.
[NG]: Back to sneakers. The LeBron 12 came out recently. Jacques Slade, was live blogging from the event.
[DD]: I just want to see it in person. That’s my feeling.
[NG]: It’s mine as well.
[DD]: I don’t want to judge it just yet.
[NG]: Do you have other interests besides sneakers? Hobbies?
[DD]: I’m into a lot of stuff you know? I’m not really a big movie buff. I love comic books, but I’m just not into it like I used to be.
[NG]: Who were some of your favorites when you were into it?
[DD]: I’m a huge Avengers, Thanos fan. That whole X-Men, Silver Surfer wave was dope to me. Thanos is my favorite villain by far, he consumes worlds, he’s all universe! To me that’s the dopest thing. My life is pretty much work, I’m sensitive about that, I’m sensitive about the show, my personal life, the people that are close to me, I spend a lot of time with them. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for other things. In my life, with the experience that I have, I make the most of the relationships with the people that are around and I really try hard to do that. That’s something that’s important to me.
[NG]: Do you have kids? Do you lace your kids?
[DD]: I have one boy, and yes. It gets expensive, but he’s got some stuff.
[NG]: So can we talk about Concepts this past Thursday?
[DD]: Yes, sure.
[NG]: What happened up there? The Internet connection wasn’t holding up?
[DD]: You know what? I’m going to take the hit for that. Listen, Concepts rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a great job. When we went over the show, maybe I wasn’t clear enough with what I said. They delivered a wi-fi connection as promised and I guess it just wasn’t fast enough to turn around the video. They had a lounge in the basement of the shop that they cleaned out for us. I think it was difficult to get the signal that I wanted to turn around the video. If I would’ve had a hundred and fifty foot Ethernet cable in my bag then we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. At the end of the day, that’s on me and I’ll take full responsibility for that. Deon, John, I owe those guys. It was really disappointing, I spent a lot of money and a lot of time. Jay spent time and money, Deon spent time and money, John flew out here; we all invested in this and came up empty and that’s on me.
[NG]: Did you meet any cool people up there?
[DD]: Everyone! Everyone! The greatest. The people that I met, the fans that came out, the greatest. Those guys were so good. I wasn’t in a great place, I had a rough day that day and I had an emergency; I didn’t plan on flying and I had to grab a last minute flight…it was a struggle. But I met great, great people. Listen, I gotta get John Geiger again. The amount of respect I have for that dude; I mean the drive and the focus and the creativity; I’m telling you this guy is the real deal. He is so driven and motivated and creative. John’s an impressive guy.
[NG]: I would’ve liked to see him and learn more about him.
[DD]: I didn’t see it. I didn’t see what went out and what didn’t. It was very disappointing to everyone involved and it’s unacceptable.
[NG]: Can we talk about this week’s show?
[DD]: Yes we can, absolutely. We have Kicksordie in the studio this week.
[NG]: I’ve seen the first Sitdown episode with Kicksordie.
[DD]: Everyone has seen the first interview with him.
[NG]: I was sweating! It was…it wasn’t heated, but it was intense to say the least. I thought it was good, the way you guys did it, you showed the best of the guest. I had no opinion of him before, I still don’t really have an opinion of him now. There were a lot of people that were very, very heated about it. Sitting him down and talking about it was great. What do you plan on doing this time?
[DD]: Well it’s obviously not going to be the same kind of interview, we won’t ask him the same kind of questions. I think we’re going to talk about these things that have gone on with Nike and the look-see samples. I don’t want to give you too much! I want everyone to tune it and trust that it won’t be a replay of the last Kicksordie. I think we are going to show him and educate the audience on who he is and what he does. He has information and knowledge on some things that everyone is going to want to see.
[NG]: Alright! And to close out, where do you see this whole sneaker thing going in the next five to ten years? You said it was cyclical.
[DD]: I see it evolving, changing. I mean I don’t know, I thought the bubble would have burst by now. I could be wrong, maybe it will never burst. I think it’s a rollercoaster and I think it’s going to change in the next two to three years. I don’t know exactly how, but we’ll see that unfold. I don’t know how social media is going to change; what if there’s an app that comes out, a different app than Instagram, that people flock to that. I think there are so many more variables that affect the industry today than in the past. It’s a tough question to ask me to look into my crystal ball and tell you what is going to happen.
[NG]: But you have seen so much prior to this.
[DD]: Yeah I mean I’ve seen the last twenty, I’ve seen it. Every time I think I know what’s going to happen, something else happens. Listen, I think Nike is better than they’ve ever been and I think they control the industry so they’ll find a way to continue making money and continue to push units. This price increase is going to change things. I think Jordans are going to slow down and some other things are going to pick up. I can see the average sale going down a bit. For right now, people are spending ninety to a hundred dollars on shoes, I can see people spending a little less per sneaker. But who knows, maybe people buying Jordans are willing to spend a but more. I need another brand to step up! Maybe Kanye will change the whole game! Maybe he’ll design something that’s so compelling that Nike won’t be able to move!
[NG]: He’d like to think that will happen.
[DD]: I think Kanye missed it. I think if Kanye had done this adidas five years ago, four years ago, I think he might have made it then. I think he’s late. I don’t want to say Kanye is on the downside, but I think his peak is behind him, from an influential standpoint, not a musical standpoint.
[NG]: And historically, hip-hop artists haven’t sold shoes that well.
[DD]: That’s not true, Carters and G-Units sold tons of units when they came out! They fell off real fast, but they sold plenty of them. I remember when you couldn’t get enough Carters.
[NG]: Well then maybe Kanye will do something that’s never been done before.
[DD]: Listen, it wouldn’t be the first time that he’s done something that’s never been done before.
[NG]: That’s true.
[DD]: I’m rooting for the brands to do different things.
[NG]: I’d like to see different things happen too, rather than more of the same.
[DD]: I’d like to see somebody challenge Nike.
[NG]: Competition is really what makes a lot of this stuff better.
[DD]: Competition is what keeps the brands honest, otherwise they get lazy.
[NG]: I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and speak with me.
[DD]: No problem man.