After producing hit records for people like Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, the Notorious B.I.G. DJ Clark Kent has a very legitimate claim to his self-bestowed title, “God’s Favorite DJ.” He’s also in the running for another major superlative: world’s greatest sneaker shopper.
A sneaker obsessive since youth, Clark has traveled the globe and shopped for sneakers in every corner of the planet. The designer of the Nike Five Boroughs Air Force 1 pack and 112 Pack among others and co-host of the groundbreaking sneaker talk show “Quickstrike,” Clark’s also the first person to buy a pair of sneakers at Stadium Goods’ Soho store.
As part of the ongoing celebration of our 5th anniversary, we chatted with Clark about that first purchase, what he looks for in a sneaker store, and why sneakers are to be worn, not shown.
What do you remember about the opening of Stadium Goods?
It was impressive to see the space for the first time. It felt good to see a whole bunch of people that I knew there, and it was a good vibe. But what I think was even more impressive was the walls, and how much inventory they had at Day One. Because I always believe that the best sneaker stores are the ones that have it. You know what I mean? So, to me, that's what makes a great sneaker store. Once you walk in the door, if they have it, if they have craziness in their shop, then that's gonna make it a better store to me than than the average store.
What was your initial reaction?
I thought it was clean. It was very, very well done. And like I said before, when you walk in a sneaker store, if they have it, that's what makes them a great sneaker store. I remember back in 2001, I went to Japan to do an event. I walked in the store and they had at least 30 pairs of shoes that I wanted to buy on the wall. When you walk into a store and it's like that, that's what makes it a good store. When you want to buy a bunch of stuff that's on the wall that makes a great store. And when you walk in Stadium Goods, they have it. They just had it. They got everything. You know what I mean?
Legend has it that you actually made the first purchase. Do you remember what that was?
Hell, no. But I was making the purchase so I could have it, you know what I mean? Like, I didn't want somebody else to cop it. I bought it early in the evening, so nobody else could buy it. You know, junkie shit!
A lot of people when they go to a store, they sit around and they talk. When I go to a store I'm not talking about shit. Do you have my size? Okay, good. I'm out. Me, I like shoes so I can have them. I don't like to sit around and display them. I want to wear them.
What makes a great sneaker store to you?
Having it. Just having the sneakers. I don't care what your store looks like. It could be a hole in the wall. If I walk in there and they have it, it matters. Would you rather go into a big, beautiful store that doesn't have anything you want, or would you rather go into a shit hole that has 20, 30, 40 different things that you want? It's like going to a restaurant, and the restaurant is beautiful, but the food sucks. I'd rather go to the restaurant that doesn't look good if the food is better.
What makes for a great sneaker shopping experience?
For me, it's not gonna be the same as the average kid who's buying sneakers because I know about shoes. So I don't need the sales person to have this vast knowledge. That would work for someone who doesn't. So I will say it's cool if they do have a basic knowledge of shoes so to be able to have those conversations is great. But if you're just in a sneaker shop where they're coming in there for the hype, it's the nicknames and good service and fair pricing. That and some knowledge of how the streets move, cause might call something different than what a shoe company will call it. If that person working in the store knows what the streets are calling it and how the streets are reacting to it, that stuff matters. I don't subscribe to the guy who knows it all in the store because nine times out of 10 he doesn't know it all, but he will act like he does.
What advice do you have for shoppers?
Buy what you like. That's it. Buy what you like. And never forget that they're just sneakers. Remember that next Saturday there will be another release. Don't buy because of the hype buy what you like. Like I'm big on GR Air Force 1s. People be like, “Oh, those are $90.” I'm like, “I'm over here with this GR, I'm comfortable.” That's the most important part is to buy what you like so that you'll actually wear it. I'm not necessarily buying shoes so that I can say I got it so that somebody could want to buy it from me. I'm trying to wear every shoe.
Off the top, what are your five favorite shoes of the past five years, the Stadium Goods Era?
You know what's good about that question? You can name shoes that weren't released because Stadium Goods usually got at least one pair of every shoe that wasn't released. But you know what? I'm not gonna answer that question. There's too many shoes. And for me to say what the top five are? It's just too many shoes to say. Like, I probably couldn't have a top five. I'd probably have to have, like, a top 40 or 50 because there's been so many good shoes in the last five years.
I know one thing. I'm very happy for you in all of your successes and I'm very proud of you. I wish 25 more years on top of that five.