DTLA And ComplexCon: A Great Weekend To Be A Sneakerhead

“What do you have planned today?”

“I’m supposed to have breakfast with homegirl today, but I haven’t heard back from her yet. After that, nothing. You?”

“You up to grab lunch in DTLA?”

“I’m down, hell yeah.”

Saturday- Downtown Los Angeles

The following exchange was a text conversation between my man Sonny and myself. Plans that would later help make one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. Before any of that had happened, I had breakfast with said homegirl and then headed back to my spot to get in some fresh gear and change sneakers. I knew if I was meeting up with Sonny, I needed to come correct with the heat on feet. But I wasn’t going to take a shot in the dark as to what sneaker I was going to rock. Not with Sonny, absolutely not. I texted him so I could gauge what to wear. He sent me back a picture of the South Beach 1s. I knew I couldn’t wear my pair of 1s and bite, so I opted to bring out the Avenue EQTs. I don’t wear the Avenue EQTs very often, but for a trip downtown with my mans, it was worth it.

Fast forward a 45 minute drive to Downtown Los Angeles from my place, and we link up at the Shoe Palace in Little Tokyo. The first thing I get greeted with is a joke about my sneakers being likened to yachts on the account that I’ve been blessed with big feet. Sonny asks if we want to go up in the Shoe Palace, but I opt that we go to the RIF.LA right down the street instead. Shoe Palace is everywhere, RIF.LA isn’t. So we decide to go up in there and take a peek at what they have. Because Sonny isn’t blessed with big feet, he pretty much had the whole store as his option. Meanwhile, I was limited to a couple of shoes scattered throughout the store, with the exception of some Off-White offerings in display glass. Upon first glancing at the walls of sneakers, I find some low SB Dunks and show them to Sonny. They were in his size, and the price was too nice to pass on. He knew he was going to cop. I can’t remember what the colorway was. I think it was something similar to the Tiffany, but not the Tiffany Dunk. After the cop, we left the store, only to walk a few more feet and be greeted by another RIF.LA, this one with all the hype gear and accessories you can find on your local neighborhood hypebeast. We peek in for a minute, do a lap around the store, and then bounce out. Nothing interested us in particular there.

After we stopped by those stores, we took a walk around a small plaza across the street, mainly in search of something good to eat. At the end of it, we settle for a small Korean Barbecue joint at the end of the plaza. It is here where we start talking and discussing the events of the next day in detail: ComplexCon.

“You activated your wristband, right?”

“Oh, no I gotta do that soon.”

As we’re eating salad in the joint, I’m reminded of the day’s events and all the cool stuff that would be happening in ComplexCon. I’m really more excited to see the cast of Full Size Run, and it is my mission to get a picture with all three members of the show while at ComplexCon. Aside from talking that, we were also talking sneakers. Sonny cops sneakers all the time. And he cops serious heat. With his massive assortment, he has no shortage of options of what to rock tomorrow. My lazy self, on the other hand, has 9 pairs of heat that need to be cleaned, and I also don’t want to wear any grail at the risk of people stepping/dropping/tripping/spilling/whatever on my sneakers. It would mess up my alphet, firstly, and then I’d be hot because I have to walk around with sneakers in less than desirable condition. So I knew my choices were slim pickings. I mentioned considering repeating the Avenue EQTs, but I also couldn’t be lame. I knew I needed a good outfit, and that starts with the sneakers.

Thinking about all this over a bowl of rice and spicy shrimp, Sonny and I continue on to talk sports, namely football. Finally, he realizes Washington (and, unfortunately Dallas) won’t hold the top spot in the NFC East after it’s all said and done. We both lament the division and our individual team woes, before we decide to head back to the Nice Kicks where we met up. We walk inside and browse the shelves. They have just dropped a new NMD with Adidas, and you know Sonny had to cop. I decided to wait, as I wanted to save my loot for ComplexCon. But, upon browsing the Adidas aisle, I saw some AlphaBounces on sale for $40, in a great colorway. The only problem was that they were out of my size. I wasn’t interested in copping anything else, and Sonny wasn’t either, so we get his NMDs and then we decide to ride out to the Jordan Store.

On the way there, Sonny tells me stories about this Jordan store, hyping this thing up to be an El Dorado of sneakers. He has his chops set on copping some new heat there, and I’m wondering as to see what kinds of (maybe) exclusive releases will be there. No guarantees I’d cop, but we both agree the Not For Resale 1’s are a must have. Both hyped up on seeing the place, we get greeted with police officers on the sidewalks outside the location with a bunch of people hanging outside of it. We thought it was because of some drop of some sort. When we start to find parking to get in, someone tells us that the store was actually shut down. Upon pressing why, we find out that it was a real case of people acting out and showing their ass. A lot of noise, fighting, and smoking is a surefire way to shut something down.

With a back up plan in hand, Sonny suggests that we go to Nice Kicks to see what’s going on there. So we get over there and start looking around at what they had to offer. One thing I love about Nice Kicks Los Angeles is the huge Adidas section that they have on the second floor. They had all the latest and hottest collabs, for which I was very much tempted to cop on, but again, I was saving the bag for the real deal the next day. It was also here that Sonny was able to get off all his jokes about my big feet, and my mildly eccentric choice in sneakers. They were funny, to his credit, but I know he’s secretly wishing he had big feet.

We stop by in Lala’s across the street for a little snack, make plans for ComplexCon, and then part ways until the next day.

Sunday- ComplexCon

Sonny and I agree to meet at my place in the morning and then we’ll take one car to Long Beach for ComplexCon. I’m scrambling to find an outfit for the day’s festivities. Having just done my laundry, a number of my clothes weren’t ready to be worn yet, to I had to either get really creative or just throw up an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary and come up with something. I eventually settle on wearing a long sleeve tee from The Madbury Club and my Nike Air Huarache City. I hadn’t really worn much of either, so I figured today was a good a day as any, plus, I know there would be plenty others would be dressed similarly. Shortly after, Sonny came through the spot. He got a chance to peep my rotation, and again, crack off some jokes about my yachts big feet. We briefly discuss if we want to grab food before or when we get there. Because we want to get there as soon as we can, we just decide to get some food there.

25 minutes of driving and a small parking debacle later, we finally arrive at the Long Beach Convention center for the big day with some considerable amount of time to spare. As we’re walking up to it, we see what we think is the line to the entrance. After standing in what we believed to be the back, a young skater-looking boy tells us the back of the line is much further, actually curving around the walking space of the convention center’s entrance. I won’t bore you with the details of that experience of waiting in line.

We get past security and get up to the gates, where we are prompted to tap our wristbands on these devices that I swore were Wi-Fi routers. They still may have been. We tap in, and we are in. Welcome to ComplexCon.

We walk around for a bit of the outside section, but nothing was really happening outside just yet at this time. It was still very early in the day. We come back inside, and start to peruse the various vendors in the convention center. As we’re walking around and starting to collect all sorts of things, I instantly start to consider whether I want to try to go back to the car and get my backpack, or to just try my luck and try to get a bag from somewhere around the convention. As we start to tour the area, I start to see how I can get a bag. I’m mysteriously holding on to a bunch of free stuff I had gotten in the first half hour. As we’re walking around, we come by a booth for Milano Members Club, where Sonny sports fly gear on the rack. I’m looking at their house decor, and I see a dope ashtray that I want. I rationalize getting the ash tray in two ways: I can get a bag to put my other things in, and then I also have a nice decoration piece for my spot. I get the ash tray, and Sonny cops a polo shirt from them. As soon as I start putting stuff in the bag, my left arm becomes sore almost to the point of numbness. I had been holding and balancing so much stuff before we got that bag.

After the Milano Members Club, we stop by the Kiwi booth. I thought they were giving away some free sneaker cleaning products, but you had to buy the kit they were offering. Of course I cop a kit, because you can never have too many products for sneaker maintenance, and, I figure I could use the kit and do a review on it. So I collect the kit, and they even threw in some quick wipes for me as well. And it came with a massive bag for me to put even more gear in. By this time, we had picked up a few T-shirts, registered to vote in California, gotten free stuff six ways from Sunday, amongst other things. And if we were going to be here all day, like we planned to be, then a big Kiwi bag was going to help.

Shortly after, Sonny spots a mass of people hanging around a large Adidas sticker on the floor of the convention center. It is a drop spot, one of many around the convention center. He then gets on the ComplexCon app to launch the Adidas feature; everyone was waiting on the drop to be released in mere minutes. Originally, I had no interest in trying to participate in what I believed to be a treasure hunt, but I figured I would give it a go this time around, just to see if maybe I could cop. So, I join in with Sonny and the rest of the pack. As we’re waiting, holding our phones up the a hanging box with a QR code on it, we’re all tapping our phones, trying to be one of the fortunate few to cop the rare sneakers that were dropping. Sonny manages to scan the QR code, but the app didn’t process the rest of the transaction for him. I didn’t even get a chance to scan the QR code. We both took a major L, and so did at least 90% of that mosh pit that also participated.

Around this time we’re starting to get hungry, so we go back outside to where a few food and vendor trucks were stationed. The area closest to the doors had very little offerings in terms of food, so we settled for a slice of pizza, which was subpar at its best. Now, knowing that the First We Feast area was going to have a lot of cool stuff and food, we decide to trek over that way. Along the way there, I caught one of the pivotal people behind Full Size Run walking the other way. Starstruck as I was, I acknowledged him, and he was real cool. He told me that Welty was inside the First We Feast area, and he invited us to see the live showing of Full Size Run in so many hours. He gave me dap afterwards, and we continued that way. Welty being my favorite, I was sure I was going to spot him somewhere.

We get to the grounds, and there are food and merch vendors lined up around the field, reminding me of how it is back home at The Texas State Fair. I see the Sweet Chick stand, and decide I want to check that spot out. My man Jared loves the place, so I wanted to go and try it for myself. This move would prove to be very helpful, as Sonny spotted Matt Welty at the side of the Sweet Chick booth, talking to the founders of SNS. I knew this was a chance to get a picture with him.

“I’ve never resold sneakers.”

“Why not, man?”

I just give them away. But bro, you’re my favorite host on the show.”

“Thank you man, I appreciate that.”

“Can I get a picture?”

“Sure, let’s do it.”

I hand my phone to one of the SNS founders, and asks if he can take a picture. While he’s doing that, I quickly mention that I am a fan of his store. He takes the photos, I give Welty some dap, and then I get back to my place in line with Sonny. I get a chicken sandwich and a long sleeve t-shirt they were selling. The chicken sandwich was really tasty, and now I see why Jared likes to go there. Sonny copped the long sleeve tee as well.

We didn’t stay long in the area after that and decided to make out way back inside to see what else we could see and get. We had walked around the place a few times, collecting things here and there, but even then, we still hadn’t seen all of ComplexCon in its entirety. On this current walk around, we get to a booth that looked to be a joint effort between Joshua Vides and eBay. All we see are sneakers, so we instantly head over to see what was happening. This booth was offering people a chance to customize a pair of Chuck Taylors or Nike Air Force 1s, along with customizing a shirt or a tote bag, all for $50. We couldn’t pass this offer up, simply because Air Force 1s alone cost $90. So, for $40 less, we can customize a pair and get a free shirt or bag with it. The Air Force 1s only came in Size 9, perfect for little feet people Sonny, not so much the case for me. I still get them, though because I intend to use them as decoration pieces for my place, along with the ashtray. Because my transaction took to long, because of their equipment acting up, they offered me a tote as well as a t-shirt.

After getting our things to be customized, we fall in line behind others awaiting the work of Tek, who has made his rounds at ComplexCon before. While there wasn’t an extensive range of customization options, there were still plenty to do something fun on your gear. For the most part, the line was moving smoothly. Screen printing takes some time, but Tek was moving and doing a great job at it. It wasn’t until one greedy dude had to have a bunch of things customized. This dude literally held up the line longer than any of those before him combined, I’m convinced. He had to have a pair of Air Force 1s customized, a pair of Chuck Taylors done, a t-shirt, and a tote. He had one of each, but some say he had multiples of each, the way he was taking up so much time. Homie was beyond fraudulent, too, with the way he was rocking Team Jordans like they were retros. I knew he wasn’t a sneakerhead. When we get up to have our turn, Sonny gets a tote customized, and then has his Forces customized to say “SDS” on one sneaker, and “NYC“. At my turn, I had “CYS” and “DTX” put on my sneakers, and then I let Tek do whatever he wanted on my t-shirt and tote.

After that, we hit the 10Deep booth, where you could buy a hat to customize, and get a t-shirt as well to do the same. In a collaboration with 2K, there were really nice patches you could put on your shirt and hat. I got a pink hat, and a white long sleeve tee. I had an idea of how I wanted to do my shirts and hat, but I was cut short with the two patch limit. Only Sonny had the idea the ask how much extra patches were, and his shirt and hat were done real nice. While he may have taken the W at that booth, he took a hard L on the ComplexCon exclusive N.E.R.D. Adidas NMDs on the Frenzy app. But I took an even harder L.

On the app, you get in the drop zone, in which case ComplexCon was the whole zone. Then, you select your size, and then you are then prompted for purchase by Apple Pay or Google’s payment service. I won’t get into all the details of the transaction process; that’s what Frenzy’s FAQ is for. Sonny didn’t even get a chance to cop the sneaker. I copped the sneaker, but because my Apple pay had the wrong billing address, I lost my sneaker at checkout. This all happened in a span of 10-15 seconds, by the way. I was never hotter in my life. My attitude was sour for a cool 10 minutes, as any sneakerhead probably would be at a chance like that. I had the chance to cop a ComplexCon exclusive, another chance to give my closet some more serious heat, but I lost out to an incorrect billing address. The woes of technology are just as endless as its delights, take it from a software developer. I later got over it, because I never had the intention to cop some super rare heat in the first place, and I also knew that I really didn’t need that sneaker. So I was okay with losing out at the end of it.

Also on this current walkaround, a fight broke out between a guy with an eyepatch and another guy with his homies. I don’t even know how it got started, but what I remember seeing out of nowhere was some pushing, and then eyepatch getting clocked 2-3 times in the face by said other belligerent and his homies.

Can’t we all just get along?

A little while after that, we decided that we were gonna catch the Full Size Run show upstairs in the studio. This was it. This was the real moment that I was waiting on. We were going to watch a LIVE episode of Full Size Run! Anymore excitement and I may have had a stroke. This particular showing, sponsored by a new YouTube series coming soon, was your usual Full Size Run offering since Rich “Maze” Lopez’s departure from the show: A robust and diverse conversation and exchange of thoughts in and around the sneaker world, funny jokes and quips going around, and of course the latest takes on the latest sneakers. In watching the new season, I always had similar views to that of Matt Welty, and this live showing was no different. Maybe there is a reason Welty is my favorite. Although it didn’t fare too far from what I would normally see every Thursday evening from Sole Collector in general, just being able to see it live was nothing short of a dream. I will get on that show one day.

After the show, I saw Brendan Dunne standing outside the room where the show was held, talking to what I assumed to be friends or associates. I shook his hand, and got a picture with him, and as Sonny as I headed down the stairs to leave, I caught Trinidad James briefly and got a picture with him before we headed out and went back to my spot. Multiple bags in hand, and more stories than Aesop’s Fables, Sonny and I left the convention center content with our hauls and what we got to see and do. It is always a great time with Sonny, given he’s not wearing that hideous Washington gear.

In total, it was a dope weekend. ComplexCon is definitely something I want to keep attending not only for myself, but also for Clean Your Shoes. I’ll keep you updated on that.

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