Sole Mates: Kenneth Anand and the Air Jordan 5

Kenneth Anand didn’t know he wanted to be a “sneaker advocate” growing up in Montclair, New Jersey in the late 80s and early 90s. He just knew he loved sneakers – especially Air Jordans – and everything around them: sports, street fashion and hip-hop. Of course, a lot has changed for Anand since his teenage years. He served as General Counsel and Head of Business Development for YEEZY from 2017-2019 and served as lead counsel for John Geiger in the recently settled John Geiger Co. v. Nike lawsuit. He is also a co-founder of Sneaker Law and co-author of a book of the same name which is used in Harvard Studies programs at FIT.

Despite all these milestones, one thing that hasn’t changed at all is Anand’s love for sneakers. In conversation, his enthusiasm is palpable. “To this day, when I open a new pair of sneakers, my inner child always jumps out of its seat,” he told Hypebeast. Out of all these sneakers, the pair that is closest to his heart is the Air Jordan 5, especially the “Grape” colorway as it was the first pair of Air Jordans he owned. For his slice of Sole MatesKenneth Anand reminisces about his first pair of Jordans, balancing his passion and profession, and shares what he thinks most people don’t (but should) know about the sneaker industry.

What made you want sneakers?

My sneaker journey started in the late 80s and early 90s. I loved hip-hop and really wanted the clothes and shoes that my favorite rappers wore on their album covers and in their music videos. . Between the music and, of course, Michael Jordan, I became really drawn to sneakers. I thought they would make me look cooler, and the fact that shoes like the Air Jordans were unobtainable because of their price made me idolize them.

“Everyone thought you could run faster, jump higher, and do everything in between when you had Jordans on.”

You grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, about an hour from New York. What was the sneaker “culture” like there? Did the kids at your school love shoes?

Absolutely. Montclair was a very diverse city at the time, so I was exposed to all kinds of different cultures and styles. One thing everyone had in common, however, was that they loved sneakers, especially the latest Jordans. If you had an Air Jordan 3, Air Jordan 4, or Air Jordan 5, you were the man. Everyone thought you could run faster, jump higher, and do everything in between when you had Jordans on.

Has your proximity to New York also affected your taste?

It was a key part of my upbringing, that’s for sure. My parents met at NYU and moved our family to Jersey when I was young because living in Manhattan was, frankly, unaffordable. They dragged us into town every other weekend to go to museums, art galleries, sporting events, etc. the city again. I wasn’t old enough to realize my parents sucked: they were super cultured and they wanted me to have a piece of that culture early on. Later, I realized that it all fueled the same cultural ecosystem as sneakers, and now I’m super grateful they brought me there.

Do you remember the first time shoes felt like more than just shoes?

When I got my first pair of Chuck Taylors in college. They were cheap and accessible but still cool, and really gave you a chance to express yourself by changing the laces or doodling on them with markers. After that I had a bunch of Nikes, various strengths and flights. I loved it, but everything changed for me when I finally got my first pair of Air Jordans.

And that was the Air Jordan 5, the subject of your slice of Sole Mates.

Yes it was. I had been begging my parents for Jordans for years, but they couldn’t understand the point of spending so much money on just one pair of shoes. I finally convinced them in the summer of 1990, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at summer camp in Maine and my parents came to visit me. We went to a nearby mall, and they had the Air Jordan 5 “Grape” on the shelf, with the entire matching jumpsuit and a giant poster of Michael Jordan behind them.

Love at first sight?

I didn’t want to leave the store. I begged and begged and finally they gave in. I took them out of the store and asked them “can I take them back to camp?” They were like “no way, you keep them until the first day of school.” I took a Polaroid picture of them [Editor’s Note: Shown above], which I still have, and waited for the rest of the summer. I finally rocked them for real on the first day of 10th grade and it was glorious. Interestingly enough, my pair came with this reflective Mylar style paper and most other OGs I’ve seen had black wax paper.

What drew you to “Grape” instead of a more muted colorway like “Fire Red” or “Black Metallic?”

Will Smith wears them in The prince of Bel-Air helped, but deep down, I’m a colorful guy! I asked my parents to buy me matching Aqua Champion shorts and a Raisin Champion hoodie, then when it came time to buy a winter jacket, I made sure to grab a Columbia Bugaboo from the same color so I can wear my “Grape” all year round. . Since then, I’m no longer afraid of bright colors, and I think that’s why the “Grape” has always had a place in my heart.

“You have to have a certain vibe – and very specific pants or shorts – to pull the [Air Jordan 5] stopped.”

Do you like any of the latest “Grape” iterations like the “Black Grape” and “Fresh Prince”, or is this OG just for you?

I have the 2013 “Grape” retro. It’s kind of heartbreaking that it doesn’t have the Nike Air hit on the back, but that’s not a deal breaker. While I think the inspiration behind the “Fresh Prince” pair is cool, I’ve never really rocked my laceless shoes so they’re not for me. I also have the “Fire Red”, the “Wolf Grey” and the Off-White™ x Air Jordan 5 in black. I appreciate that the Air Jordan 5 is not a shoe that everyone flocks to like the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 3 or Air Jordan 4 – you have to have a certain vibe and very specific pants to To take it out .

Did you know you were going to be able to incorporate your passion for sneakers into law when you went to law school, or did you think you had to give it up?

I remember showing up to my first day of law school wearing a powder blue Enyce tracksuit and seeing people look at me like I was an alien. It was 1999, so aspiring lawyers wearing streetwear and sneakers were completely unheard of. I remember thinking, “Holy shit, this is a new world that doesn’t accept me for who I am,” which was very different from my return to Montclair. The vibe was “you’re a lawyer now, so watch the play”, and I was dressing up in suits, pocket squares, etc.

I was finally making some money when I started practicing law, so I was able to buy some of the shoes that I couldn’t afford as a kid, but eventually I felt like to separate myself. I would come home and look at my shoes every day thinking “man, I wish I could go back to this”. One day at work, I had an epiphany and thought to myself, “I should be doing more of what I love. Am I gonna do this shit forever or do I wanna try my luck doing what I loved when I was a kid?

“I know sometimes I look like the old guy wearing sneakers, but whatever: I’m making up for the time I lost working to become the lawyer I am today.”

How do you reconcile your passion for sneakers with your job?

They are one now. You see my backdrop [gestures to the stacks of sneakers behind him] – that’s how I jump on every work call. I don’t hide it anymore, which is very liberating. I’m immersed in sneakers on so many different levels, and I still love it so much. I know sometimes I look like the old guy wearing sneakers, but whatever: I’m making up for the time I lost working to become the lawyer I am today. And now I can use those skills in a new way, because in the past what “rogue lawyers” were doing wasn’t really in the spotlight.

What excites you about sneakers these days?

Access to industry information. Jared [Goldstein, SneakerLaw business partner] and I decided to start Sneaker Law because we wanted to provide information to kids who didn’t know about all of these sneaker-related career opportunities. When I was younger, being in sneakers was like “I’m going to buy them, wear them, match them to my outfits and maybe resell them”, but now you can learn more about licensing agreements , patents, trademarks and disputes with large companies. It’s great that there are young people who are so excited and educated about what the sneaker business is all about.

What most people don’t know about the sneaker business that you think they should?

When someone who doesn’t know about the shoe industry hears what I do, they tend to laugh, but they don’t realize it’s an 80 billion industry. of dollars. I don’t think a lot of people realize that there’s a whole thriving industry behind these consumer goods and there are plenty of non-traditional ways to make a career out of them.

“To this day, when I open a new pair of sneakers, my inner child still jumps out of its seat.”

Why are sneakers important to you?

They represent my childhood and my passions. To this day, when I open a new pair of sneakers, my inner child always jumps out of his seat. They gave me excitement and energy, helped me stay young and put food on my table. I don’t know how you could find a better mix

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