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Sleeping rough for shoes and food
June 8, 2012 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Vice magazine was curious as to why people in London are sleeping rough to get a pair of Kanye West's trainers for Nike. Ironically, this comes in a week where jobseekers were expected to work for free and without accommodation on the Jubilee celebrations being told they should sleep under London Bridge (previously).
posted by mippy (64 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Vice magazine was curious as to why people in London are sleeping rough to get a pair of Kanye West's trainers for Nike.

I could have told them.
People are cupid.

If it was a sleep out for the homeless, if there were some charity, I might be less stabby.

Self-absorbed gonna be self-absorbed.
posted by Mezentian at 4:32 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Compared to what I was expecting from Kanye those shoes are shockingly tasteful, understated even.

I'm kind of disappointed.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:34 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


What did you say you do again?
Oh, I’m unemployed.


Have you got your £210 ready for Saturday?
Yeah man, student loan.


My Lord! Unemployed people and students are buying shoes! That's what's wrong with this country!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:41 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


£210 for vanity shoes? There's something wrong with that.
posted by Mezentian at 4:43 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, but £210 shoes that look like a dead shark and a dead catfish stapled together? That is not a good use of taxpayer's money. As a taxpayer, however, I could get behind a scheme that would provide the unemployed with six-inch glitter platforms with goldfish in the heels.
posted by mippy at 4:43 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


a new shoe made by Kanye West.

I assume that's a special economic zone in Asia somewhere called Kanye West. It's west of Kanye.
posted by Mezentian at 4:44 AM on June 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


(To be fair, though, nothing I wasted my student loan on could be sold on eBay for a zillion pounds.)
posted by mippy at 4:45 AM on June 8, 2012


I worked for Nike long ago, the people selling the pre-orders on ebay are usually very well placed employees that are not supposed to be doing what they are doing, but Nike looks the other way just to track Ebay sales and interest. (really, some guys were making 3-500 percent of their salary on selling oddities and one-offs). Nice gig if you can get it, I will say.
posted by efalk at 4:48 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


This adds to the body of evidence that the end of civilization will start in the UK.

(yes, I'm thinking of 28 Days Later)
posted by armoir from antproof case at 4:48 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if companies are going to turn that to their advantage in the future, then?

There's an indie perfume company, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, whose fans tend to be the obsessive collector type. So limited edition perfume blends, which originally sold for $20 or so, sell for a lot on the secondary market - and the people behind the company occasionally sell 'bottles we found in the lab' on eBay where those products will go for up to $300 a pop. It makes good business sense for them (though I wonder why they don't just do another run of the rare and popular products) to get in on that secondary market, but something about it makes me feel a bit cynical. My OH told me about a boardgame company that did a similar thing - reissued a very sought-after game, but in such limited quantities that they could essentially charge what they liked knowing someone would buy them.
posted by mippy at 4:53 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If only there were some way we could ensure that poor and disenfranchised youth didn't have the ability to buy anything nice...
posted by broadway bill at 5:01 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a taxpayer, however, I could get behind a scheme that would provide the unemployed with six-inch glitter platforms with goldfish in the heels.

But who's going to pay for the goldfish upkeep, huh? Your scheme will end with the poor trudging around with the rotting remains of goldfish sloshing around in their half-empty heels!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:02 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ridunkulous.
posted by orme at 5:03 AM on June 8, 2012


Did anyone get stabbed?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:04 AM on June 8, 2012


GenjiandProust, the three questions before "what do you do?" kind of change the tone:

How much would you say you spend on trainers a year?
I wouldn’t like to guess.

Hundreds…? Thousands?
Probably five, maybe tens of thousands.

Seriously?
Yeah.

What did you say you do again?
Oh, I’m unemployed.


Maybe he or his parents are wealthy, but there's a big difference between "he's unemployed and buying shoes" and "he's unemployed and spending five to ten thousand pounds on shoes in a year." Of course, he's probably exaggerating/lying, but that's a lot of shoes.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:12 AM on June 8, 2012


My shoe budget is $100 a year and I am employed. I am doing something wrong.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:21 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I got a pair of shoes older than you are
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:23 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is both a very interesting question and a spectacularly disingenuous article. I presume Vice magazine sells advertising? Do they think they exist outside of consumerism?
posted by londonmark at 5:26 AM on June 8, 2012


When you see lines like that for an iPhone or a new video game console or black friday or whatever... people are usually wearing normal clothes.

But these people are all dressed bizarrely. It adds an extra layer of surreality to the whole thing.
posted by delmoi at 5:31 AM on June 8, 2012


$200 per year on Vibram running shoes; $35 per year on Vans knock-off kicks from Target. Annual budget: $235. Employed.
posted by Gordion Knott at 5:32 AM on June 8, 2012


This is both a very interesting question and a spectacularly disingenuous article. I presume Vice magazine sells advertising? Do they think they exist outside of consumerism?

Oh please. It's possible to do something and still not like it when people do it to excess.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh please. It's possible to do something and still not like it when people do it to excess.

Maybe it's just because I live in London. This is not even the most excessive display of consumerism I have seen this week.
posted by londonmark at 5:38 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's 1989-90 and every one I know has Air Jordans. This pair to be exact.

I need new shoes and so I go to the only source available to me at the time, my parents. We go to foot locker or some such equivalent and my father looks at the price, I forget exactly what it was, but this was the early 90s and I have a sense that it was around $69-$99.

ME: "So can I have them dad? Please, please please...."
DAD: "These are really expensive, how about these?"
*Holds up some no-name brand of shoes that I know will make me a victim of my friends.
ME: "But these are great, look they even have them in my size.

I proceed to make a sales pitch that would have Trump smiling. I'm trying them on, I'm doing dance moves, I'm running up and down in place, displaying the extra coordination and sports skills that these Jordans will provide.

DAD: *sigh.
MOM: *frowning face
ME: JOY JOY JOY!!!

So I'm told that I have to work off these shoes, extra chores, helping out at the family dry-cleaning business. I say yes to all of these things, anything to get these shoes.

I go to school the next morning. I'm super-excited. I look bad-ass and I've convinced myself that I'll be able to slam dunk, despite my being a tiny asian boy. In between a period change, I find myself needing to adjust my shoe. I loosen my laces, adjust the tongue of the shoe.

The tongue detaches from the shoe completely. I'm very confused by this. The most expensive pair of shoes I've ever owned, the newest, the latest, and of course they break. I can already see the smug look on my father's face. I can hear my mom telling me that I should have listened to them and purchased that more economic, reasonably priced, sturdy, solid-looking shoe that they held up instead, the one I rebuked and made fun of.

Later that evening, we return to the shoe store and even though I'm offered a replacement pair, I decline. I go with the other lesser known brand.
posted by Fizz at 5:40 AM on June 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


The only things I've stayed up all night for involve sex, alcohol and/or drugs.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:41 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Two hundred quid and they don't even have steel caps? Pass.
posted by pompomtom at 5:44 AM on June 8, 2012


Two hundred quid and the shoes aren't even the long elfin kind with bells on the end? Pass.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you are sleeping rough to get a pair of overpriced trainers you are a dickhead.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:02 AM on June 8, 2012


I don't know who you zombies are who get a pair of shoes to last more than six months. I am to the point I want to just rivet steel plates to my feet and go with that, maybe those will last four seasons.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:10 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought the British knew how to queue?
posted by narcoleptic at 6:10 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've got a generation raised on the welfare state,
Enjoyed all its benefits and did just great,
But as soon as they were settled as the richest of the rich,
They kicked away the ladder, told the rest of us that life's a bitch.

And it's no surprise that all the fuck-ups
Didn't show up until the kids had grown up.
But when no one ever smiles or ever helps a stranger,
Is it any fucking wonder our society's in danger of collapse?

So all the kids are bastards,
But don't blame them, yeah, they learn by example.
Blame the folks who sold the future for the highest bid:
That's right, Thatcher fucked the kids.
I like Frank Turner's stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:19 AM on June 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought the British knew how to queue?

Try queuing for a bus or tube in London, particularly during the rush hour. It doesn't happen. In fact, there's now an ingenious system in place where the last to arrive are the first to get on.


Frank Turner draws a comparison for me to Joe Strummer, in that he's a kid from a priviledged background (Turner went to Eton, Strummer was a diplomat's son) but he can still say something about the less well off that's vaguely useful and aware. He's not my favourite musician, but when it's a choice between FT's social commentary and this, well...
posted by mippy at 6:24 AM on June 8, 2012


Of course, he's probably exaggerating/lying, but that's a lot of shoes.

True, but I thought it was interesting that the only two people who got asked about their income (well, that they printed) were a) unemployed and b) as student with loans. It seems like it's feeding a stereotype, you know?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:28 AM on June 8, 2012


Aye, but there are worse things than being compared favorably to Joe Strummer. Some would die happy for the honor.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:28 AM on June 8, 2012


It's like the British, male, and oddly dressed version of Sex and the City's shoe fetish.
posted by Forktine at 6:42 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


broadway bill: "If only there were some way we could ensure that poor and disenfranchised youth didn't have the ability to buy anything nice..."

Your definition of nice is, umm... how do I put this delicately?
posted by symbioid at 6:43 AM on June 8, 2012


£210 is three weeks' unemployment in England, so I doubt he's the kind of unemployed you're thinking about. Further, the yearly total for unemployment comes out at less than £4,000. Given that many other kinds of benefits (housing, help with council tax) are not cash payments able to be diverted, I'm guessing that anybody spending "five, maybe tens of thousands of pounds" on trainers who also calls themselves unemployed, is likely using "unemployed" as a code for something else.
posted by Jehan at 6:45 AM on June 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Speaking of Air Jordan's how much was the original adjusted for inflation?
posted by symbioid at 6:45 AM on June 8, 2012


I know I'm supposed to hate here, but £210 for a status symbol doesn't make me twitch an eyebrow in this town, and at least they're willing to put in some effort in. Good luck to them, hope they get their trainers and their peers are suitably impressed.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:48 AM on June 8, 2012


I assume that's a special economic zone in Asia somewhere called Kanye West. It's west of Kanye.

Oddly, last years model was the Air Jordan XI Kanye, or roughly in Chinese, the Air Jordan Western Jesus Failure.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:53 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like a lot of these people are fanatical about shoes.

Back when I was single, living alone, and had almost no expenses, I went out all the time, because I loved food. And then I would go and travel somewhere far away, and that cost money too. But these things gave me pleasure and I was willing to spend my money in this fashion. Sounds like these people just feel the same way about shoes.

Now, I never camped out all night to go eat in a restaurant, although I have camped out all night while traveling.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:55 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Back when I was single, living alone, and had almost no expenses

That's the thing, the older crowd doesn't remember what its like having no mortgage, living with a cheap rent, not having kids, etc and how that means some extra cash for beer or shoes or whatever.

I hate this attitude of "well, now that my tax dollars are somehow subsidizing something in a very indirect way I'm going to tell you how to live." Err, no thanks. My tax dollars are subsidizing your damn kid's education, but I can't tell you how to raise them, can I?

Let the shoe fetishists have their shoes. Lets the college kids take weeks long european vacations. Don't worry, they'll end up as soulless cubicle zombies soon enough.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:06 AM on June 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


My shoe budget is $100 a year and I am employed. I am doing something wrong.

cjorgensen: Why do you hate the worthy poor, you stingy, Tory taxpayer?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:14 AM on June 8, 2012


Its funny that they make people work for free at a party for a family that hasn't worked in decades.
posted by PJLandis at 7:16 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


the only two people who got asked about their income (well, that they printed) were a) unemployed and b) as student with loans. It seems like it's feeding a stereotype, you know?

All first-time degree students in the UK get a loan (unless they choose not to apply) - not sure how much it is now, but in 2000-03 you got something like £2500 as standard and the means-tested part meant that you could get as much as £3500. It's not the marker of lower class that it is in the US (in fact I know people who invested their student loans, because their parents could pay for their fees/accommodation and thought it was worth taking advantage of 2% interest).


That's the thing, the older crowd doesn't remember what its like having no mortgage, living with a cheap rent,

There isn't really such a thing as a cheap rent in London to be honest, unless you live like some Aussie travellers or Polish economic migrants do and share rooms (or can live with family to save up a bit). As few people can get on the property ladder here, rents are often considerably more than a mortgage, if you are renting a place rather than a room. My average rent here as a housesharer has been about £500 a month over the past seven years or so I've lived here, and that's way out of the centre, in not entirely posh neighbourhoods, and sharing with other people. Of course, you can do this and have disposable income, but once you have the £60k or whatever for a deposit, paying your mortgage will probably save you money.
posted by mippy at 7:17 AM on June 8, 2012


"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
-Albert Einstein
posted by freakazoid at 7:42 AM on June 8, 2012


So they're handing out wristbands for the day when the pallet of shoes gets delivered. How does the shop ensure everyone gets the size they want? Is the 'limited supply' actually custom ordered or will there be more disappointment when the last guy with a wristband has to walk out with size 13's and a couple pairs of thick socks?
posted by rh at 8:07 AM on June 8, 2012


I don't know who you zombies are who get a pair of shoes to last more than six months. I am to the point I want to just rivet steel plates to my feet and go with that, maybe those will last four seasons.

Don't zombies walk a lot? They need high quality shoes.

In an case, I should had to re-heel and re-sole a pair of shoes after just six months, and this pisses me off to no end. I generally expect a pair of shoes to last a year given daily use.
posted by deanc at 8:09 AM on June 8, 2012


Sneaker queues attract students and the unemployed due to the economics of these supposedly "rare" shoes. Back in the day, when I myself was a student, I used to queue too. Somewhere in my closet, unworn, are the Dunkles, the Supreme Dunk Hi, and the original Super Bape Star. There's a satisfaction in not paying market price, but these days I'd rather wait for eBay.

The Yeezy's retail for £210, and will be on eBay next week for $1000-$1500. To want to queue for 24 hours you both have to have nowhere better to be, and think you can't make that money a lot easier at your desk job, rather than camping in a piss stained railway arch surrounded by sneaker otaku.
posted by roofus at 8:19 AM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


....
posted by erebora at 8:56 AM on June 8, 2012


They're ugly.
posted by Hoopo at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2012


I think they're astonishingly ugly, but then I'm wearing a pair of shoes that I bought purely for comfort, rather than speed - a granny complimented them at a bus stop. Look, I've hurt my toe, alright?
posted by mippy at 9:04 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


This adds to the body of evidence that the end of civilization will start in the UK.

The UK is a kingdom where the people got rid of their king and replaced him with democracy and then decided to have king again.

Sneakers are nothing.
posted by srboisvert at 9:17 AM on June 8, 2012


Yep, Roofus is absolutely right. The resale market for any shoes (especially QS account Nike or the more limited Nike/Jordan releases, and also Bape, Visvim, Nike SB, etc...) is what draws people out to line up. In all of my times in sneaker lines, I don't think I ever met more than 5-10 people who were really very interested in wearing or even owning the shoe.

I bought 3 pairs of Quickstrike only Jordans at a midnight sale and sold em for double retail in the parking lot as soon as I walked out of the store.
posted by broadway bill at 9:18 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I bought 3 pairs of Quickstrike only Jordans at a midnight sale and sold em for double retail in the parking lot as soon as I walked out of the store.

So we shouldn't call these people homeless, we should call them financiers.
posted by Fizz at 9:24 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


and also Bape

Bathing Ape is absolutely bizarre. I went to the Bape store while out exploring downtown Tokyo one day back when I used to live in the area. It was a fairly large space and very nice inside, but it only had about 4 shirts in it and a couple of pairs of shoes. Not sure what their stuff looks like these days, but about 6 or 7 years ago it was the pajama-looking cartoons-all-over print stuff. Not really my cup of tea, but I shouldn't talk because I was pretty tempted by these admittedly loud & ugly De La Soul 3 Feet High And Rising hightops I saw in the Don Quijote.
posted by Hoopo at 9:34 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I went to university, I moved from a very provincial, working-class town where 90% of people wore some kind of heavily branded sportswear to living amongst people from more affluent backgrounds. The in trainer brand then were Acupuncture - I don't know if it was peculiar to Manchester or they just went out of fashion with the big flares that seemed to be in in about 2000-1. (I still wish I could fit into my Topshop ones with a lightning bolt on the back pocket.)

This thread reminds me that my mother still thinks you can go to Russia and live like a king by selling your jeans off the market. (Also, the travel article that suggested a US tourist could pay their way around the UK by buying duty-free cigarettes and selling them in the pub, which is a really stupid idea if you intend to go home with the same amount of teeth you arrived with.) As someone who isn't au fait with the collectible sneaker world, I'm astonished that there are enough fanboys out there to make this kind of outlay of effort worth it. The closest I got was reselling the Kermit Adidas trainers I bought, wore twice and decided that they made my size UK9 feet look like cars.
posted by mippy at 9:43 AM on June 8, 2012


Yeah, Bape stuff is almost uniformly ugly and weird. A year or two ago, they tried to remodel themselves as a slightly less cartoony line by adopting some of Visvim's aesthetic sensibilities but it did not work at all. I know Nigo (the founding alien) sold the line a year or so ago for some amazingly low figure.

Their stores are very odd. It's like they try to push the illusion of scarcity even in their own retail stores. Bizarre stuff, especially when bootleggers were making knockoffs that were, basically, identical to the real thing and selling them for like 1/20 of the retail rate.

The world of fashion commodities will always blow my mind.
posted by broadway bill at 9:45 AM on June 8, 2012


It's really reminiscent of fast fashion at the other end of the retail scale - clothing that is mass market, but has a turnaround that is so short (seriously, there are products in Topshop that have the shelf-life of cream cheese) that one is encouraged to buy it NOW or never get it again. (As someone who is a UK16 and has big feet, I pretty much have to buy something in these stores as soon as it comes out as they don't make many in my sizes.) If something sells for pots of cash on eBay, they can't really make more because the manufacturing lead-ins are very long to maximise profits - and that's when the even more budget stores like Primark knock them off.

The illusion of scarcity is a remarkable selling trick. It's when companies can't work it to their advantage because of the supply chain that it benefits the resellers and bootleggers.
posted by mippy at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2012


Bathing Ape is absolutely bizarre.

Who wouldn't want jeans with a giant, toothy cartoon vagina monster on them?
posted by delmoi at 12:12 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now you're really taking me back delmoi; the people wearing those jeans are the Teriyaki Boyz. One of their members (and Rip Slyme member) Ryo-Z would often come to the neighbourhood bar I used to hang out at anytime he came back to his hometown because all the staff and regulars there were his old friends from high school. Rip Slyme records and pictures from his wedding were all over the walls. I'm kinda surprised I never made the connection with Bape before.
posted by Hoopo at 1:31 PM on June 8, 2012


Hoopo: I know Nigo, who started and owned Bape, was either a member or just the financier of Teriyaki Boyz, didn't he?

He's always struck me as a really really strange guy. I wish someone would make a proper documentary ar something about the salad days of that scene.
posted by broadway bill at 2:08 PM on June 8, 2012


God what a mess that is. Let me give it another go:

I know Nigo, who started and owned Bape, was either a member or just the financier of Teriyaki Boyz, wasn't he?

He's always struck me as a really really strange guy. I wish someone would make a proper documentary or something about the salad days of that scene.

posted by broadway bill at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2012


I don't know who you zombies are who get a pair of shoes to last more than six months.

Buy boots. Good ones. I am partial to Red Wings. Yes they cost over 200 dollars. I wore one pair for three years, they got retired to shop duty because they got so covered in paint, metal and scars, they are still holding up just fine.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 8:51 AM on June 9, 2012



That's the thing, the older crowd doesn't remember what its like having no mortgage, living with a cheap rent,


"There isn't really such a thing as a cheap rent in London to be honest"

You can get a flatshare for £100/week. That's not cheap compared to elsewhere but totally within a young person's budget. Minimum wage in UK appears to be around £900/month? It's not at all unusual for housing costs to make up that percentage of your income. I know that in an ideal world housing should only make up 30% of your income but that's not quite as realistic anymore.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:31 AM on June 11, 2012


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