Sneakers and Speakers brings Nashville's hip-hop and urban-fashion cultures to the surface 

Shoe Fly

Shoe Fly

"The first pair, I had to beg my mom," says Nashville native Ivan Andrews. "I was maybe about 9, and the Jordan Columbias were on a Foot Action clearance rack. ... From there it just turned into an expensive-ass hobby."

Andrews is on the phone, recalling the very beginning of his sneaker obsession — an obsession that led to the founding of Sneakers and Speakers, the city's premier event for footwear collectors and beat freaks. It's an event that somehow manages to combine the nerdiest elements of a comic-book convention with the suaveness of a fashion show and excitement of a live hip-hop show. Andrews, along with local producer/musician Matic Lee, threw the first installment this past June, and it was hands-down one of the best-spent Saturday afternoons of the entire summer. We gave it a Best of Nashville honor, in fact, and we're not even shoe fanatics. Hell, our shoe game is weak-to-middling at best. On the other hand, we can't resist staring at cool-looking things and listening to the best of the city's hip-hop scene.

The connection between sneaker culture and hip-hop culture goes all the way back to both movements' beginnings — you may recall a little group named Run-DMC and their ode to shell toes — and the fact that sneaker culture has become a part of Nashville's current hip-hop boom is no surprise. There are Nashvillians working in all aspects of hip-hop culture — it's not just rappers and DJs, but also writers, photographers, filmmakers and designers. It's got a "get in where you fit in" vibe that welcomes obsession and specialization, and rewards knowledge and craftsmanship.

So when 500 people show up to see other people's shoe collections — as they did at the inaugural Sneakers and Speakers event in June — it isn't really a shock.

The Sneakers and Speakers organizers were recently forced to move this year's event from the spacious showroom at Phatkaps to the much larger rooms at 12th & Porter to accommodate all the vendors and collectors clamoring to display their wares. There are certain events that happen and people have a good time, and then there are events that are awarded "classic" status before they're even over — the first Sneaks and Speaks fell soundly in the latter category. As a way of giving back to the community that was so quick to adopt and support their event, Sneakers and Speakers is running, appropriately enough, a shoe drive for Soles 4 Souls. It's the sort of gesture that means a lot in a culture whose most visible proponents are the living embodiment of materialism and consumerism. Saturday's event, which runs from 2 until 7 p.m., will feature performances from locals including Matic Lee, Openmic, Sam & Tre, Classic Williams and much more.



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