The world’s first and only pawn shop devoted entirely to sneakers is now in Harlem. And this is not for those grimy gym sneakers you have in your closet. Sneaker Pawn USA, located at 200 Lenox Avenue at 120th Street is run by a father and (teenage) son team from their Harlem apartment selling rare kicks that can sell for up to $15,000.
There are two types of people in the world: those who consider shoes a fashion accessory, and those who see them as things to protect your feet from a sidewalk full of dirt, sharp objects, and gobs of chewed gum. Of course, the two species of shoe-wearers are not mutually exclusive. There’s a continuum between the two polarities, allowing most of us to fall somewhere in between Crocs and Louboutins.
As city-dwellers, most of us spend a lot of time walking. Practical shoes (or a high pain tolerance) are a necessity, which limits the aesthetic options for those of us who have places to go and hate blisters. This gentleman seems to have it all figured out—the leather of his caramel-colored brogues look comfortably broken-in but polished and well-cared-for. These are the shoes of someone whose sense of style is effortless and classic, emphasizing the quality and care of items over flash. They’re noticeable, but only if you bother to look down.
You’re tired. You’re staring off into the grimy, human-filled space of the subway car, failing to concentrate on your book and lacking even enough presence of mind to turn on some music. It’s cold out, but it’s uncomfortably warm and humid in this underground cattle-car. It smells like the unholy union of cabbage and feet. Your listless gaze lands like a gob of spit on the two people standing in the doorway across from you, oozing downwards until it pools on their respective shoes. Well, that’s something. There’s something shiny here. Your brain perks up a bit and begins to analyze.
At first glance, the person on the left seems much more fashion-conscious than the one on the right. Skin-tight pants with distressed detailing, a shopping bag lending clues to recent purchases, and of course the shoes. You don’t find reflective studded maroon platform brogues just anywhere, do you?
And then your eye slides over to the gentleman on the right. Okay, casual but reasonably well-turned-out. Black jeans, white shirt. No coat. At first you hardly notice the shoes, but the colors draw your attention back. These are not your everyday sneakers. These have a personality–maybe not quite as unapologetically flashy as their neighbors’, but steady and definite.
Their personal styles might be different, but these two people both display an attention to detail in sartorial matters. A studded brogue might not share the same opinions as a striped canvas sneaker, but at least it can respect them. They’re mismatched, but perhaps not incompatible.