SELECT Collections: Khalli Vegas
Here on Sneaker News SELECT, we’ll be giving you a look at some of the best sneaker collections on earth, and that doesn’t always mean rare samples and PEs. There are so many facets and sub-genres of the vast sneaker horizon to explore, and we’re planning to unearth them all. In recent years, the general “sneakerhead” mindset has made great strides towards a broader acceptance of different brands, but there are some collectors out there who have never waivered from their hunger for diversity.
Not long before a few brands pulled away from the pack and claimed dominance of most of the market, there was once a glorious time in sneakers when there more viable footwear players than you can count, and there was an almost unthinkable parity between them. Sure, there were some making more noise than others, but the overall sense of competition for consumer dollars pushed all of these companies to the limits of creativity and innovation to try to separate themselves from the pack. That intense rivalry resulted in some of the greatest models,
technologies and fun gimmicks ever seen in footwear, but only a small percentage of these shoes have lived on to enjoy retro revivals, and some of those once formidable brands are either extinct or have moved into smaller niche categories of the industry.
For veteran sneaker aficionado, Khalli Vegas, variety never stopped being the spice of life. Now a college professor in Atlanta, Khalli has been hunting for fresh kicks since the early 80s, all the while showing love to a multitude of brands, styles and genres. To say that he’s sitting on some OG gems would be putting it very lightly, and unlike many vintage collectors, Khalli Vegas bought them the first time around and has been wearing them ever since.
The gallery ahead shows off just a portion of Khalli’s vintage treasure trove, but it’s more than enough to school you on some sneaker history and remind us of a time when it was more about buying a pair of shoes simply because they were fresh than bowing to the brand name stitched into the tongue.
From: Atlanta, Georgia
Sneaker News: Tell us a little about yourself.
Khalli Vegas: Not a kick professor, but a professor who loves kicks! I have been a college professor for the past 12 years in Atlanta, but my love for sneakers goes back decades to the streets of Brooklyn, DMV, and Italy. I was fortunate to come up in an era where true diversity reigned. All brands were competing for market, so you had designs and innovations not just from Nike, Adidas, and Reebok, but others such as Avia, Etonic, and Brooks to name a few brands. The driving force was to find a rare kick in any town USA that would separate you from the pack, and before the days of social media and blogs, that was not always easy to do, but you
lived for the hunt. While sneakers take up %50 of my space, they take a lesser percentage of my life nowadays, I always buy what I like and wear what I buy – a simple concept that has worked since my first purchase of AF1s with my own money way back in 1984.
SN: Approximately how many pairs of sneakers do you own at the moment?
Khalli: I would roughly estimate around 500-600 pairs (only 1 pair of J’s), but have been downsizing in recent years, so unable to give an exact amount.
SN: What was the first shoe you ever fell in love with?
Khalli: Nike AF1. Apologies to the J fanatics, but this will always be the flagship of Nike and one of the first basketball shoes that truly transitioned to a lifestyle shoe in inner cities across the land.
Top Row L to R – Nike Air Force 1 NYC Edition (1996), MLB All Star Pinstripe Edition (2008), 20th Anniversary (2002), Premium faux croc (2007), Premium faux croc (2007). Bottom Row front to back – AF1 (1999), Brooklyn (2004), Wht/Black 2000, Wht/Blue 1996, Wht/Red 2000, Black/Wht (1991)
Top Row L to R – Nike Air Delta Force (1988), Air Delta Force (1989), Delta Force (1991), Delta Force (block letters) 1987. Bottom Row L to R – Nike Air Court Force (1993) Quantum Force (1991), Delta Force (1987), Court Force (1993)
SN: How many years have you been seriously collecting sneakers?
Khalli: I never consider this sneaker collecting, it falls more along the lines of “hoarding”, but I can recall as early as 1985 having at least had 100 pair of sneakers in my rotation at any given time. That said, they are purchased for the purpose to be laced up and worn. That is why I balk a little at the notion of a “collector”, but have no qualms if others see it as that.
Individual bins – Spalding “Akeem The Dream” (1995), New Balance 590 (1995), Xanthus X-Pro (Xavier McDaniel 1992) Air Force Delta (1989), Converse Aero Jam (Larry Johnson 1994). Top clear bin –Nike Dunk Varsity St John & Syracuse (2000), Fat Tongue Pro B GripTape samples (1999). Dunkle samples (2007). Lower clear bin – Adidas Lendl competition (1985) Lendl Supreme (1984) Forum Cuba samples (2002)
SN: What’s your favorite brand or genre to collect?
Khalli: I don’t have a specific brand loyalty or genre of sneakers for that matter. I like a little of everything, but as I moved up in age and social patterns, I’m finding myself gravitating more to runners, and trainers in large part. I think a lot of companies could have moderate success with more low top basketball shoe options for the 40+ crowd.
Top Row L to R – Fila Grant Hill (1996), Mash II (1995), FX 100 (1991). Front to back – Fila T1 – Lo, Mids, Hi (1987-2003) Fila FX 100 (Packer collaboration LBJ 4 play 2010)
SN: What’s your favorite model of all time?
Khalli: New Balance 1300 CL (Blue Steel) 1985
New Balance 590 (1993), NB 480 Pride (1983 – First Basketball release by NB), NB 550 (1994) Bottom Row L to R – NB 1300 Blue Steel (1985), NB 574 ID (2011), NB H710 Herschel Supply Co. Colab (2012), NB H710 Herschel Supply Co. Collab (2012)
New Balance Pride 480 (1983)
SN: How much of your vintage collection are shoes that you’ve had since they originally released and how many have you gone back to hunt for after the fact?
Khalli: I would guess that 80% to 85% of my vintage sneakers were originally purchased by me. The remaining were acquired at later stages.
Individual bins – Nike Delta Force lo (1988), Etonic “Akeem The Dream” (1986), Nike Air Flights (1992), LA Gear 420 Kareem Abdul Jabbar (1989). Top clear bin – Lotto Supreme Classic (1994), Pony Topstar Oxford trainers, Nike Quantum Force (1993), Fila T1 LBJ 4 Play (packer shoes) 2010. Bottom bin – Ewing Low Swatt (1994), Ewing Rebound (first release 1989), Ewing Rouge II (Euro release 1994)
L to R – Reebok Above the Rim D Factor (1990), BB 4600 mid (2000), ATP (1987), Classic CL (2013)
SN: Do you rely mostly on eBay to find these vintage OGs, or do you have some other methods of tracking stuff down?
Khalli: I have used eBay in the past but have had more success with obscure mom & pop stores and estate sales.
L to R – Nike Battleground Shox (samples 2002), Ballistic Force (1992), Nike Vandals (retro 2004), Delta Force (1993). Bottom Row L to R – Air Flight (1989), Hyperflight Graphite (2002), Air Jordan II (retro 2004), Air Posterize (samples 2006)
L to R – Air Alonzo Approach (1997), Magnum Force ¾ (1992), Afterburner (Jason Kidd 1998), Air Flight (1989)
SN: Your collection is about as diverse as it gets when it comes to representing all different brands. Do you feel like most consumers have become too closed-minded when it comes to exploring some of these more under the radar brands?
Khalli: Closed-minded would be an understatement, try shut-minded! I think true consumers still seek out what they like, but resellers and “sneaker zombies” in large part are fueled by hype, so they just read, line up and wait to buy whatever is deemed hot. You will actually have people with every model of J’s and folks
applauding them for having a diverse collection. That said, all things have to change and I’m not a grumpy old man based on the fact that all things change regardless of how much resistance is involved.
Ellesse Vicenza (1980)
Top Row L to R – Ellesse 117 FL (2013), Fava (2010), Marathon (1984). Bottom Row L to R – Classic runner (1990), Franco Fava (2000) Marathon retro (2009)
SN: What was your best score on a rare or vintage pair and how did you get them?
Khalli: I would say two years ago at an estate sale from a guy who was a tennis pro/coach. I was able to secure DS Diadora Borg Elites (1981) still in the box. I actually walked away with maybe 6 pair of rare tennis finds that day and all for less than $300 total.
Top Row L to R – Diadora B560 Basketball, DX 6000, Ace Top (Yvegeny Kafelnikov). Bottom Row L to R – Borg Original 1976, Borg Elite, Ace Rebound (Yvengeny Kafelnikov)
Diadora Heritage Heroes Seb Impact, 2 pair of The Queen (Edwin Moses)
SN: What’s the craziest thing you ever had to do to get a pair of shoes you wanted?
Khalli: My very first pair of sneakers. I was given money as a teen to buy an entire Easter outfit and somewhere in my travels, saw the AF1s in a sporting goods store and had to have them. My mother was furious and told me that if I did not return them, that I would have to wear them to church and everywhere else. Let the church say Amen!, because I had them laced and strapped up Sunday morning.
Top Row L to R – Avia Sky Tech (1986), 830 Hi (1987), 870 Hi Robert Parrish (1990), Thunder Bolt Fly Zone (1995) Bottom Row L to R – 825 Mid NYC edition (1987), 825 Mid (1987), FT Tech 500c (1998), Thunder Bolt Flyzone (1995)
L to R – Avia Cantilever (1982) Avia Cantilever (1982), Avia XT 1445 Cross trainer (1994)
SN: What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a pair and what was the shoe?
Khalli: Gucci Tennis (1984). Back then, it was outrageous to spend near $200 retail, but these truly separated you from the pack. I spent a good deal of time in Atlantic City, so the Gucci shop was accessible and feasible.
Top Row L to R – Brooks Arsenal KW (Dominique Wilkins 1986), Brooks Highlights , Brooks Highlight II (Dominique Wilkins 1990). Bottom Row Brooks Highlights II lo (Dominique Wilkins 1990)
Top row L to R – Etonic Strada 95(1995), ER 5711 (Eion Series 1996), Stabilizer KM (1980). Bottom row L to R – Brooks Fly Out (1982), Vantage 430 (1978), Blitz (1999)
SN: What’s the crown jewel of your collection – the one centerpiece that you hold above all the rest?
Khalli: That’s not easy, but based on rareness and that they’re still wearable, I would say the Adidas Ivan Lendl Supreme (1984). These were a bright colorway and so different from Ivan’s stone faced court persona.
Top Row L to R – Adidas Mutombo w/strap (1993), Mutombo (1993), Intimidation (1998), Kobe II EQT (playoff edition 1998) Bottom Row L to R – Association Hi (1991), Decadence sample (Milwaukee Bucks 1990), EQT (2007), Metro Attitude Hi (2000)
Top Row L to R – Adidas Navy Superstar samples (France edition 1990), 35th Anniversary Music Edition Run DMC (2005), Super Cup samples (2003), The Kobe 2002. Bottom Row L to R – Tommy Guerrero Superskate samples (2005), Skywalker Patent (2005), Concord Snakeskin (2000), Crazy 8 (2008)
SN: What’s your ultimate grail that’s missing from your collection – the one shoe at the top of your wish list if you could get your hands on it?
Khalli: Spot-Bilt X-Press (Xavier McDaniel)
Top Row L to R – Spot-Bilt Team (1982), Spot-Bilt Breakaway (1985), Saucony Hangtime Retro (2011), Saucony Hoops Sample (2000), Saucony Shadow 6000 Samples (2009), Saucony Jazz 3000 (2006). Bottom Row L to R – Saucony J3000 Sample (2008), Saucony Shadow XT, Saucony Hornet (2002), Saucony Bangor (2003), Saucony Grid 9000 (1994), Saucony Courageous (2010), Saucony Grid 9000 (2012)
Top Row L to R –Majesty Ralph Sampson (1985), Invader (1990), Cell Cat Vince Carter (1998) Bottom Row L to R – Cell Cat Low Vince Carter (1998), Davis Cup (1990), Pele NYC 1975 Samples (2010)
SN: What are a few shoes that are heavy in your current rotation?
Khalli: Lately with the summer season, I’m wearing more runners – Nike Air Tailwind, Asics Gel Lytes, The Hundreds Hoya, and Etonic Strada 95, but a few others would be the Ewing Focus, Nike Quantum Force and Avia 825 mids.
Foot Chest L to R – Brooks Hydroflow (2000), Champion Excel Hi (1992), Nike Windrunners (2008)
Top Row L to R – Asics Gel Intensity MT (1998), Gel Saga (1995), Gel Saga (1996). Bottom Row L to R – Gel Lyte III (2013), Gel Lyte (2013), Gel Lyte III (2013)
SN: What percentage of your collection is worn and how much is deadstock?
Khalli: If wearable, it’s being worn and I would say about 88-90% are still wearable. I haven’t deadstocked any that I can think of, simply because if I purchased the shoe, I am wearing the shoe – immediately in most cases.
Top L clear bin – Adidas ZX800 (2008), Consortium ZX800 (2009), ZXZLE (2004). Top R clear Bin – NYC Lifestyle Marathon (2007). Oregon Ultra II (2004), Quake (2000). Middle bin – Country Hi samples (2000), ZX Racer (2006)
Top Row L to R – Sergio Tacchini Pete Sampras ST (1993), Grand Classe (1993), Gran Slam Pat Cash (1988). Bottom Row L to R – Grand Slam Pat Cash (1988), Talent (2004), Mid Assist (1989), Mid Assist (1989)
SN: Do you worry about what will happen if you wear some of your older pairs? And do you have any crumbled midsole horror stories?
Khalli: I’ve either been pretty lucky or safe by sticking with sneakers that are usually solid, most with gum soles or minus air bubbles have a lot more longevity. And since I do wear mine throughout the year, maybe that’s helped prolong as opposed to sitting in a box and never seeing the light of day.
Nike Air Analog (1993)
L to R – Nike Flatbush (1999), Air Tailwind (NYC city series 2000), Air Tailwind (Japan release 2008)
SN: What are some of the most recent pairs you’ve picked up?
Khalli: Ewing Focus, Saucony Grids, Asics Gel Lyte III, and Reebok CL Trail.
adidas Stefan Edberg ATP (1994)
Top Row L to R – Le Coq Sportif Flash (2013), Eclat (2011), Trim (2007). Bottom Row L to R – Slam Mid (1989), Jakim Noah Playoffs 2.0 (2011), Basket Hi (1988)
SN: Are you still interested in current releases and is there anything coming up that’s on your radar?
Khalli: Nothing that is really a must have as I am beginning to cut down but I am wanting to get some of the retro stuff from Pony and Adidas no specific models in mind but like some of what I have been seeing out on the web.