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Life & Work with Alexander Jones

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Jones.

Hi Alexander, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
What started as a way to get a little extra life out of my sneakers evolved into a passion for restoring the rarest Nikes on the planet. I started hunting for and fixing up old sneakers as a kid. About 6-7 years ago, I began posting before and after pictures of my projects on Reddit and the response was amazing. I developed a little following and everyone kept asking me to video what I was doing. At that time I was purchasing a lot of old really rare stuff from the Japanese auction sites and most of these pairs looked like they belonged in the garbage. I was taking completely trashed original Jordans from the 1980s and making them wearable today. I was doing a lot more than cleaning up dirty pairs- I would resole them, redcoat and color the leather, and whatever it took to bring these things back to life. About that time sneakers started to really blow up and seemingly overnight there was a huge market for what I was restoring. Pairs literally shot up in value 10x and it wasn’t uncommon for them to sell in the 5 figures. I started posting the videos of my projects and documenting my hunts on the Japanese sites on YouTube. The response was unbelievable. People from all across the world started contacting me to fix up their old pairs. I’ve had pairs sent to me from places you’d never expect like Kenya and even Ukraine. While my audience is across the globe, I’ve always called St. Louis home and I moved into my studio last month. The great thing about the area is it’s super affordable and with the power of the internet and DHL, Japan might as well be next door.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’m a firm believer that nothing worthwhile comes easy. Just finding these sneakers is a major challenge. This isn’t the kind of stuff you can hop on StockX (a sneaker reseller site) or just go to eBay to find. Some pairs take years to find and it involves thousands of hours of searching. There are some pairs I still haven’t found after years of searching and I’m okay with that. As cliche as it sounds, if it was easy everyone would do it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m best known for my YouTube channel, VintageKicksGallery. Over the past several years, I’ve gained great respect in the sneaker community and I’m known for my extensive collection of very rare old Nikes and Jordans from the 1980’s. I’m also known for having a distinct style of restoration of these pairs- Until recently, restorers tried to make everything look brand new. I never took that route. These pairs are 30+ years old at this point and even if something is kept deadstock (meaning they have never been worn), they will have an age to them. When I restore pairs, I take an “age appropriate” approach and replicate the patina and natural aging the pairs should have but in a very clean way if that makes sense. Recently, the “aged look” has really caught on and I was recently featured in a GQ article about how old sneakers are now cooler than brand new ones. I have a reputation of being extremely passionate about what I do which sadly stands out in a world dominated by hype beasts. I’m truly proud of each and every pair I find and restore because each one of them has a story and I know what kind of effort went into the final product.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
Well, there’s taking risks and being reckless and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. My life is all about risk management. I am a firm believer that you have to take risks to accomplish anything worthwhile in life. To me, it’s just about taking the smartest approach to those risks. There is no handbook to what I do. I take major chances on just about every purchase I make because there is no guarantee the pairs will be fixable or even show up after purchase for that matter. Through years of trial and error, I’ve developed a comfort in knowing what is and what isn’t possible with restoration but even with my experience, mistakes will be made. Every now and then I’ll spend way too much on a pair that shows up nothing like what I expected and sometimes there’s no fixing it. As I said earlier, the market has exploded so I have to make a calculated judgment on if what I’m buying is worth the sometimes exorbitant cost or if they’re beyond repair and ready for the trash. I also have to be able to determine if a pair is legit or counterfeit with sometimes limited pictures and rough Japanese translations.

Pricing:

  • Cost of 1985 pair of Air Jordans can hit six figures
  • Average price of sneakers I work on- $5000+

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alexander Jones

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