White sneakers are a summer staple: grab a cheap pair of canvas all white lace-ups in May, throw them out at the end of summer. As an ode to the seasonal icon, Ryan Babenzien talks to us about getting his first pair of all-white sneakers at age 11, and how they still dominate his collection today.
“I definitely remember my first pair of all white — we used to call it white on white— sneakers. I had this pair of white on white Adidas Superstars, or shell-toes. I was about 11-years-old and they were expensive. The shoe was like really popular but not in all white. Most people had it in white with black stripes but I became obsessed with getting this all white pair; I liked the fact that I was the only kid in my school that had a pair.
They weren’t limited in the sense of today’s limited where they specifically make a small run to drive the price up, but it was limited in that they just didn’t make that many. But I just wanted the white ones. I just remember driving my parents crazy trying to find these shoes. Ultimately we found them all the way out in Queens and I was able to buy them. The only big thing was like we had to find them, which isn’t that big of a deal now but driving from Long Island to Queens to buy a pair of sneakers for an 11-year-old back then was pretty uncommon. This was like way before the internet so we had to drive to this weird store that my mom had never heard of to try and satisfy this desire I had. That was a lot of effort back then.
That was like my first white sneaker obsession. Sadly those sneakers are long gone. I definitely had them until they wore out so that was probably about six to eight months. Back then, I mean I was 11 so you just kind of wore them. I didn’t have this collection of sneakers so I just wore them until they wore out. I wish I hadn’t thrown them away because they would have been one of those historical things but you never think that way when you’re 11.
Now, I’d say I have about 10 pairs of white sneakers. You have to remember I only wear Greats sneakers now, but I probably have about 60 total, so if 10 of those are white, that’s quite a bit.
To clean them I use Jason Markk. We collaborated and did some custom Jason Markk cleaning kits and so I have them laying around the house. They work really well so that’s what I use to clean my white sneakers.”
Come June 8, Greats will be releasing a new sneaker to their line-up with the Bab Low. At $49, the style is a low-top take on the brand’s best selling Bab style and comes available in all white, and yes, a whole host of other colors as well. Get an exclusive first look at the collection in our gallery.