It all started with a passion for product that I developed as a 9 year old boy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Before the beginning of every basketball season my mother would take me down to Ben’s Department store on the outskirts of downtown Cincinnati to pick up a pair of sneakers for the upcoming basketball season. Ben’s was the late 70s / early 80s version of what Flight Club is today. It was the place to go to get all of the latest, rarest and freshest sneakers available.
Ben’s display racks flowed with every color of Chuck Taylors, Dr.Js in every flavor, both leather and suede and had an ill collection of leather PONYs. Ben’s also carried the upstart Nike brand and exhibited a beautiful display of red and blue suede Blazers and the super dope white leather Blazer with the black swoosh, like the ones Coolidge wore on “The White Shadow”. But the shoe that caught my eye and lured me in like a junkie to crack was the Adidas Kareem Abdul-Jabbar high-top. The shoe was immaculate, constructed of a crispy white, genuine leather upper complimented with a gorgeously, lavish natural suede trim adorning the toe box that also comprised the signature 3 stripes. All finished with a gold detailing on the tongue that was embossed with the Adidas logo, the signature of the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar accompanied by an iconic image of Kareem and his signature “hook shot”.
These were truly the Rolls-Royce of sneakers in 1980 and getting moms to drop $35 compared to the $12 that she customarily dropped on a pair of Chucks was going to be no easy task. However, after assuring her that I would eat my peas, do all my chores and ball out like a savage on the 4th grade hoop squad, she made the purchase that would change my life forever.
The love affair only intensified upon getting my first pair of freshly copped leather sneakers home. I was mesmerized by the blue box adorned with the 3 white stripes. The crinkle of the wrapping paper, which kept my new sneaks nestled gently inside, was music to my ears as I unboxed my prize. The biggest source of joy however, was the unmistakable, one of a kind scent of fresh new sneakers! This glorious aroma still excites and arouses my senses to this very day. As a matter of fact I sniffed and smelled the inside of those shoes as if they were a bouquet of fresh lilacs. It was shear and utter bliss. Or course all that shoe smelling stopped once the season began and I started playing in them, but the stage had been set and I was hooked. Sneakers would never just be shoes again and my passion for product had begun.
Barry Renfro Founder, Derde Drawz