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LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Sneakers

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Branded gear and questionable collabs used to make brands seem desperate—now it’s making them cash

We’re used to taking unlimited Ls on Jordan reissues. We’re used to Supreme drops getting botted and cleaned out within minutes. But we didn’t expect other brands to get in on the action — let alone find success with it. Over on our sibling pub MARKER, Adam Bluestein dives into what he calls “Merchmageddon”: a world in which companies responded to the pandemic by unleashing a damn torrent of branded gear and goods. Think Dunkin’ allover-print joggers; Ca$h App brand streetwear; Chicken McNugget-shaped pillows.

Are these the exact kind of things that would have made companies a laughingstock just a…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

You won’t find these on a hypebeast’s playlist

Photo illustration. Source: Interscope

5. The Pack, “Vans”

Before “Damn, Daniel!” became a meme, before the Kevin Durant and James Harden curses, before Based God began soliciting creepy foot flicks on social media, Lil B’s group the Pack worshipped Vans sneakers that look like… sneakers.

4. Riff Raff, “Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdinz”

Every footwear enthusiast knows tiptoeing in a pair of Js is a one-way express ticket to Creaseville. We call bullshit, Jody Highroller.

3. Meek Mill featuring Rick Ross and Swizz Beatz, “Reebok Back”

Nothing classic about this forgettable remix that turned a Tupac Shakur dedication into sponsored content.

2. Nelly featuring Kyjuan, Ali, and Murphy Lee, “Air Force Ones”

A$AP Rocky and Nelly each recently took credit for popularizing Air Force Ones. But if you didn’t have at least two purrrr


ARE YOU TOO OLD FOR THIS?

Between bot-sniping teenagers, engineered scarcity, and having a damn life, I’m being forced into a life of brunch boots

Illustration: Moya Garrison-Msingwana

I’m 33 years old. It’s a weird age, teetering between being in touch and stuck in my ways. And I know I’m not the only one standing at the intersection of Young Buck and Old Head. Every time something comes along, whether it’s slang or pop culture or a new tech platform, you confront the same question: Am I too old for this? That’s why I’m here — to work through these conundrums on your behalf, on a weekly basis. Together, hopefully, we can face some harsh truths about our own washedness.

I remember exactly where I was when the…


Growing up, it wouldn’t have been me

As the oldest child in my family, building a relationship with my siblings has always been a challenge. I carry the responsibility of setting the example and often have to switch between the roles of brother and disciplinarian. Admittedly, playing both means younger family members waver between loving me as their older brother and disliking me when I have to set them straight. It’s a balance they don’t always understand and seldom enjoy.

Still, I’ve built a better bond with some of my siblings more than others. I have markedly better relationships with the ones I grew up with —…

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