Every morning getting dressed, she starts with the sneakers. Micah Logan, better known to her Huntsville radio listeners as ML6, then creates the rest of the day’s outfit around her shoes.
If it’s going to be a long day, ML6 will opt for a pair that’s comfy “but still fresh and fly,” she says. “If I’m going to be walking a lot or on-air or at the airport, I might not necessarily go for Jordan (sneakers from Nike). I go for Yeezy (designed by rapper Kanye West). Or my Balenciaga sneakers, they feel like socks.” If she’s feeling more of a “flex,” meaning a glam sneaker that will impress, she’s got Chanel sneakers or Travis Scott Air Force One Nikes for that.
ML6 doesn’t consider herself a sneakerhead. The 150 or so shoeboxes stacked like “Tetris” against a wall in her home suggest otherwise. “I just love kicks,” ML6 says via a recent video chat interview. “I love the look of them, the style of them, what you can do with them. You can have on something so simple, but your shoe makes a statement. Or it can change a whole outfit.”
Similarly, sneaker culture is shaping mainstream culture more than ever. Basketball stars like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Devin Booker set many trends, as legends like Michael Jordan, Clyde Frazier and Chuck Taylor did before them. But today’s fashion-centric media outlets are increasingly hot to cover which sneakers celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Meghan Markle and Bradley Cooper sport. And unlike snakeskin-boots-clad rock-stars of yore, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and Americana singer/songwriter Jason Isbell wear sneakers onstage. In 2020, Netflix debuted a sitcom titled “Sneakerheads” about the hijinks of two sneakers-obsessed buddies.
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Sneakers’ most mainstream moment occurred when U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ nephew-in-law wore $2,000 Dior-Air Jordans to the 2021 presidential inauguration. Amplifying all that down to us regular folks, celeb-driven social media (particularly Instagram) and paid influencers are “putting pressure on people to have dope sneakers,” as ML6 puts it.
Huntsville-based comedian Scott Eason’s impressive Jordan-heavy collection numbers around 400 pairs. In the pursuit of kicks online and in-person (after comedy gigs on the road he’s been known to get up at 5 a.m. to go stand in line for a new sneaker release at a local store) Eason’s made sneakerhead pals across the country. Nashville. Atlanta. New York. Los Angeles. Denver. Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi too. Other comedians and entertainers are in that mix, but Eason’s sneakerhead friends also include engineers, teachers and social workers, he says.
A sneaker obsession can often by traced back to childhood. Eason fondly recalls his parents taking him to Parkway City Mall to purchase a pair of Air Jordan IVs from Hibbett Sporting Goods. “Michael Jordan was bigger than life and everybody wanted a pair of Air Jordans,” Eason says of the gravity-defying shooting guard who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships in the ‘90s.
ML6 moved to Huntsville around 2000 to attend Alabama A&M University. She grew up in Detroit, where she played basketball. One day at a local Champ’s Sports she saw a pair of Orlando Magic guard Penny Hardaway’s signature Nike shoes. “I just had to have them,” she recalls. Even though the Air Penny colorway (sneaker-speak for color-scheme) didn’t match her basketball team’s red uniforms, “I didn’t care. I wanted this sneaker.” She was thrilled when her dad bought them for her. “And from there it just kind of started this love,” says ML6, whose radio name was derived from a Mercedes automobile. Currently she’s the midday personality on 94.5 FM, which broadcasts worship music and “soft R&B.”
After those Air Pennys, a young ML6 obtained a pair of “Flint” Air Jordans. These days she loves to support female sneaker designers, which led to her purchasing Aleali May designed Air Jordan 14s, Pumas by Lauren Lamb and three different sneakers by Melody Ehsani.
ML6 is excited to see sneaker culture becoming more welcome to women. Black women in particular. “What I’ve noticed about the Jordan brand and the Nike brand,” she says, “is they are incorporating more females because they’re understanding the fact that women run fashion. Like, I’m the type of person I don’t like dressing up, so if I can’t wear sneakers I might not go.”
Eason wore out his first pair of Jordans, because like most kids he didn’t know how to treat shoes and wore them until the fell apart. He asked his parents for another pair. But since those Jordans had cost around $100, big bucks for basketball shoes in 1989, his parents told him no way. “I remember promising to myself,” Eason recalls, “that when I’m older and can buy my own shoes, I’m gonna buy whatever I want.” Around 2015 he started doing just that and got serious about sneaker collecting.
A couple of closets in his South Huntsville home are populated with stacks and stacks of shoeboxes. Although many of those boxes are orange or black (Jordan and Nike), Eason collects an array of brands, including New Balance, Adidas, Reebok and Saucony. About three/fourths of his collection is deadstock, meaning he’s never worn them. He keeps some of his deadstock sneakers in a climate controlled storage facility.
Asked how much his entire collection is worth, Eason estimates “five figures, easily.” His collection includes gems, like Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Origin Story” sneakers released to celebrate the movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and feature the iconic red, white and black “Chicago” colorway with a translucent sky-blue sole. (“Jordan Is are my favorite shoe of all-time,” Eason says.) However, his day to day kicks include gray New Balance 993s. (“Not exactly sexy, but it’s classic, comfortable and it’s gray so it goes with anything,” he says.) Eason, who in addition to his own stand-up shows produces local showcase Epic Comedy Hour. is a big Nike Air Max fan too.
Eason says exclusivity, a growing trend in sneakers with hyped limited releases, doesn’t really impact his personal taste. “Honestly,” he says, “I think the hallmark of a real sneakerhead is you don’t only enjoy a shoe because it’s hard to get or expensive. It’s, ‘Do I like the design?’ If I do, I’m going to get that shoe, I don’t care how expensive it is.”
In the past Eason has camped out and waited in line overnight for sneakers. Now, he usually uses smartphone apps, like Nike’s SNKRS to stay on top of releases. He’s constantly checking online sneaker message boards for release dates, stores carrying certain sneakers, etc. On Discord, chatrooms of sneakerheads band together to share info to increase their chances of obtaining a new shoe. “Because in this day and age nothing is guaranteed,” Eason says. “Shoes are so limited.”
As sneakers have blown up, many shoe releases have shifted to raffles instead of first-come-first-serve. Then there are the bots. Sneaker resellers will use automated programs referred to as bots to blitz an online release and enter account information to try to buy the shoe and can be used to create hundreds of accounts. That’s how a reseller might end up with, say, 100 pairs of a 3,000-pair release and your average sneakerhead ends up empty-handed. Even if sites have added some form of bot protection.
The upside of online resellers like StockX and GOAT is they’ve helped push sneakers into the zeitgeist, as anyone anywhere can get exactly the sneaker they want, as long as they have the money. (Kind of like how online music hub Discogs is for vinyl records.) The flip of resellers (and the mainstreaming of sneaker culture) is prices are driven up. Sometimes way up.
Eason says while he does resell some of his deadstock sneakers, it’s not a business. “I resell shoes basically just so I can afford to buy more shoes.”
ML6 says she wears every sneaker she owns. Like Eason, she uses apps to find her next pairs of cool kicks and lets her personal taste drive her collection not hype. If she misses out on a shoe during a release, she saves a photo of that shoe into a folder on her iPhone. Later on as she acquires those shoes, she deletes the corresponding photo.
She describes the sneaker culture in Huntsville as “bananas.” While sneaker boutiques are expected in Southern culture hubs like Atlanta and Nashville, Huntsville is also home to such a venture, Heart and Sole, located off Highway 72 West, in a strip mall at 1420 Paramount Drive. “They carry items,” ML6 says, “you think you’ll see on the internet or on your favorite celebrity. But then you walk into that boutique and go into that back room and they have that shoe.”
Recently I visited Heart and Sole Sneaker Boutique and that back room of high-end sneakers, or as the proprietors call it “the exclusive room.” The colorful sneakers are displayed on see-through shelving. All the shoes are wrapped in plastic, like gigantic pieces of candy.
Shaun Sonia opened Heart and Sole about two years ago with co-owners Chris Dowdell and Adrian Davis. Sonia shows me a Nike Mars Yard 2.0 – a cream, red and white running shoe, which goes for around $5,000 and is “made out of stuff the astronauts use,” Sonia says. And here’s a blue, black and white Travis Scott Air Jordan I “Fragment.” Released at around $225 it now goes for about $3,000, according to Sonia.
Heart and Sole’s stock numbers around 200 and Sonia’s personal collection numbers around the same. Lately his go-to to wear is a pair of LeBron 8s. Sonia has his own sneakerhead origin story. “I’m a big guy and I could do more with shoes than clothes,” he says.
Sonia views his personal sneakers as an investment. His collection’s even covered by his home insurance policy. “That’s what I put my money into,” Sonia says.
To obtain shoes for Heart and Sole, Sonia used to travel to where physical releases took place, like say Miami. Now if there’s a physical release he instead pays someone to go do that for the store. Heart and Sole focuses more on exclusive sneakers than general releases. Yes, exclusives have higher resale value. “But I also don’t want to have the same shoe everybody else has,” Sonia says.
DeArius Parker is a manager at Heart and Sole. Today he’s wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of Mars Blackmon, the motormouthed character film director Spike Lee portrayed in now classic Air Jordan commercials. On Parker’s feet today, a pair of fire-red Jordan IVs.
Parker tells me he loves sneakers because “shoes can tell stories. Some shoes, you can remember exactly what you were doing and exactly what you had to go through in order to get that shoe. You might have had to sacrifice in order just to have enough to save up. Eating at home instead of out – or if you do, the dollar menu.” With wider releases, Parker loves how someone can personalize a shoe by swapping out, say, black shoelaces for pink laces. “You can find a way to make it your own.”
Local sneaker enthusiast Jonathan Cole, who helps out at Heart and Sole, says when he was growing up his mom asked if he wanted new school clothes but he requested new sneakers instead. He proudly wore the same clothes every day to school so he could have a black and red pair of Air Jordan XXIIIs.
“Culture wise, in Black culture, sneakers are an expression of who you are,” Cole says. “You can’t see on the inside, who I am, but you can see by what I’m wearing, my sneakers.”
In addition to their showroom, you can find Heart and Sole’s stock on their website. Since this is the 21st century, predictably they sell many of their shoes online and social media plays a key role in driving those sales. They say they’ve shipped shoes to buyers in states like California and Illinois and even abroad to Spain and England. The boutique’s most commonly sold sizes are 10-and-a-half and 12. They stock sizes up to a 16.
For those just starting a sneaker collection, Parker recommends Nike Dunks, a low-top striped basketball shoe that dates back to the ‘80s, which now retail around $100 to $120. Nike Air Force Ones can also make for a solid entry point.
Despite the price hikes, bots, and cultural carpetbagging, Scott Eason says most sneakerheads he knows don’t mind the mainstreaming of sneakers “because we love the culture. Now it’s out there, everybody can appreciate it, even though it might not be the same way. They might just go ‘Hey those are cool shoes,’ while for some people sneakers are a way of life.”
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