AIR MAX DAY EXCLUSIVE:
We talk to Jordan Geller, the owner of ShoeZeum and get an insight into his once record-breaking sneaker collection – turned footwear museum, as well as his choices for his Top 10 Air Maxes of All Time.
VA: You are undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable sneaker collectors in the world and your collection is second to none. How did ShoeZeum come about?
JG: Thank you very much! I’ve loved Nike’s since I was a kid. The problem was that when I was a kid I never had any of the cool Nike’s that I loved. When I was in my early 20s I started a business buying and selling shoes. I started buying my shoes at swap meets and eventually transitioned to the Nike Outlets. I bought and sold Nike’s from the outlets for about ten years and then in May 2009 Nike banned me from shopping at their stores. I love Nike so much that when they banned me I didn’t know what I was going to do. Nike was my everything and I was just told that I was no longer welcome in their stores. I needed to adapt. At the time I had a warehouse with 15,000 pairs of Nike’s. I decided to sell my inventory and use the money to systematically build the most comprehensive Nike collection in the world. In October 2010, I opened the ShoeZeum in San Diego. I moved to Las Vegas in 2011 and reopened the ShoeZeum on Las Vegas Boulevard in 2012. The ShoeZeum is featured in the 2013 Book of Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Sneaker Museum.
VA: What do you think of the fact that there are Air Max fanatics in Cape Town, South Africa?
JG: I think it’s amazing. One of the things that I love about Nike’s is that they appeal to so many people all over the world. Congratulations on being selected as a Master Of Air and for winning the King Of Kicks. It’s great to have ambassadors from all over the world. It helps diversify the sneaker culture.
VA: Owning and operating ShoeZeum must have opened up some doors at Nike WHQ, what was your most memorable experience?
JG: I am very fortunate to have gotten to meet lots of amazing Nike executives, designers, and employees. One time I had the opportunity to sit down with Tinker Hatfield at his office in the Innovation Kitchen. That was unreal! I live about one mile away from Nike World Headquarters. I pop over there almost weekly. I love to visit Steve Prefontaine Hall. I go in there and take pics and soak up the nostalgia.
VA: If you could design your own Air Max, what would it be and why?
JG: It would be the Air Max 97. That is my all time favourite Air Max. I love everything about them. I’ve always thought that they look so futuristic. I love the heel to toe visible air. I remember when they first came out I thought, “Wow, Nike really did it. Now we can walk on air.” Major props to Sean Wotherspoon for getting to design his 97/1s. I love how he made that shoe his.
VA: What is the one Air Max grail that you are looking for that you do not currently own?
JG: I’d love a brand new, perfect pair of Original Air Classic BWs in the iconic Persian Violet colourway. My daughter’s name is Violet and my dad used to run in that shoe in the early 90s so I have a lot of sentimental attachment to them.
LEFT: Jordan and Tinker Hatfield at ShoeZeum / RIGHT: Jordan with the Bowerman Waffle Iron Shoe (l, Cullen Collection) Mark Covert Moon Shoe (R, Geller Collection) Image Courtesy Trackerati
VA: What is the oldest pair of Nike’s that you currently own?
JG: I own the first pair of Nike Waffles to ever cross the finish line in the 1972 Olympic Trials. They were handmade and worn by Mark Covert. They are my favorite pair in my collection. I am incredibly proud of them. I also own a single Nike Waffle that was buried in Bill Bowerman’s (Track coach and Nike Co-Founder) yard next to his Original Waffle Iron. It’s very cool to own a shoe that was made and touched by Bill.
VA: What is the most comfortable pair of Air Maxes to wear in your experience?
JG: This is a tough question! When I was growing up I always thought, “the more air the better.” In the mid to late 90s Nike started putting visible air in the front of Air Maxes as well as in the back. I remember when the 95s first came out, and the 96s, and the 97s. Each one had more air so I felt like they were more comfortable than their predecessors. To answer your question more directly, I’ll never forget the first time I tried on a pair of Air More Tempos in 1996. I was at Foot Locker at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles. I wasn’t even trying to buy them but they fit like a glove. There was no turning back. I bought them for $160. I think what made them so comfy was the lacing system, specifically the elastic straps between the tongues and the laces. Since the Air More Tempo is a basketball shoe, I’ll also include a comfortable Air Max running shoe. In 1999 I bought my first pair of Air Max Pluses at Champs in Tucson, Arizona. I fell in love with them immediately. Shout out to @ronsrareair on IG for giving the Air Max Plus so much love.
VA: You own a lot of vintage Air Max bubbles, how do you maintain them and keep them from oxidizing and crumbling apart?
JG: I pray! Just kidding. I keep my vintage shoes in their boxes. I try not to mess with them too much and they are in a climate controlled storage unit. There is a lot of luck involved with preserving Air Maxes. Usually the midsoles crack and crumble over time. It’s always such a heartbreak.
VA: How many pairs of Air Maxes do you currently own?
JG: I own about 50 pairs of Air Maxes. At one time I had more than 500 pairs!
VA: What do you think about the hype that follows sneaker collecting nowadays as apposed to previous years?
JG: I think the hype is the result of the brands catering to sneaker collectors more than ever. Collecting sneakers used to be much more of an underground cult thing. Nowadays everyone is a collector and a reseller. Nike and Adidas have their fingers on the pulse of sneakerheads worldwide. They know what we want and they’re feeding us and it creates a lot of hype.
Check Out Jordan Geller’s Top 10 Air Max’s of All Time:
Honorable Mention: OG 2006 Air Max 360
10. 1995 OG Air Burst
2004 Air Burst Premium ‘Crepe Hemp Pack’
9. 2005 Air Max BW
8. OG 2002 Air Max Elite (Tubular Air)
7. 2006 Air Max 180 (First Air Max to feature Nike+ technology)
6. Air Max+ 2010 ‘Air Attack Pack’
5. 1987 OG Air Max
1988 OG Air Max
2014 Air Max 1 ‘Air Max Day’ / Signed by Air Max 1 designer Tinker Hatfield
4. 1996 OG Air Max
3. 1998 OG Air Max Plus
2. 1996 OG Air More Uptempo
1. Air Max 97
Nike Designer and designer of the Air Max 97 Christian Tresser / Signed Air Max ’97 Collection
1997 OG Air Max
2006 Air Max ’97 360 ‘One Time Only Pack’
2008 Air Max ’97 Lux ‘Rainbow’
A big thank you to Jordan Geller!
Article by Justin Ronne (Bubblekoppe)
Follow Justin on Instagram @jamixx08
Follow Bubblekoppe on Instagram @bubblekoppe
All images by J.Geller