Devon Daniels’ Nice Kicks

The Superbalist sneaker buyer shows off some of the favourites in his collection.

Words Nabeel Allie | Photography Nick Gordon

Devon Daniels is a man who feels a type of magic when speaking about sneakers and how their story is interwoven with his own. It’s one of presentation, looking fly and being true to your own self expression. Devon’s love for sneakers and fashion bloomed as a child while growing up in Mitchell’s Plain and today plays out in his role as Superbalist’s resident sneaker buyer. It’s not all fresh drops though, and most of the time he’s deep in an Excel spreadsheet, however, Devon’s strategic forecasts into the sneakers you see on the site has as much to do with mining the data as it does his being an OG from the Plain.

“I guess my real love affair with sneakers actually started through music, particularly drum and bass. So say like, 1995, I was 12 years old and my cousin had gone to the UK and brought back some vinyls and things like that and I was like, ‘Dude what is this!?’ He came back with a whole other style. Air Max’s and tracksuits. The dudes were wearing it here but this was just another level.”

Fully engrossed in the intersection between the lifestyle of coloured people and fashion, Devon speaks with wondrous affinity how young people pushed sneaker culture and urban fashion.

“Bra, white sneakers, I used to go out to the club in pure white shoes. Even before you go to the club, walking from my gate, out of my house into the car and there’d be like this thing where you don’t want to get them dirty so you’d put bags over your shoes. So many dudes when we were kids were hanging out with plastic bags.”

Being shamed by coloured aunties who said that only jollers wear white shoes, shaped Devon’s love for black sneakers, and he’s currently digging the black Air Max 1 FlyKnits he copped for Superbalist; and looks forward to summer days in black shorts and a black tee for that all-black look.

Still, there are no rules for wearing sneakers and for Devon it’s all about expressing your personal style. We asked Devon to give us the low down on some of the favourites from his collection, and while this kicks are most certainly covetable, the real beauty is in the back story. For Devon sneakers aren’t merely footwear but a time capsule capturing a time and place in a sneakerhead’s life.

adidas Stan Smith adicolor

“I was given these at a graffiti competition in Joburg in 2006. It took 24 hours to drive there, it should be way less, but as you know one homie always has a shortcut… We drove up in a van full of crazy kids and got lost in the Karoo and then stuck without petrol. Anyway, after painting all day we drove back the next morning with a load of free stuff and prize money. These shoes remind me of the people in my life back then and they’re rad because you can colour them in with the markers they came with. I never did that though because I’m all about those fresh whites.”

Nike Made in SA

“I hold these really close to my heart, being the patriot I am. Kappa Town boys! The story goes, or so I’ve heard, that Nike opened a factory in South Africa to produce Air Force 1’s and Dunks in the early 2000s and after going out into distribution they never met Nike’s quality control and were scrapped immediately. It’s just rad to have a rare piece of history.”

Asics and New Balance Colette packs

“I recently picked up these Gel-Lyte IIIs from my most reliable plug after hearing Colette was closing down after 20 years. I really needed these as I have been a huge fan of the store and was even lucky enough to make the pilgrimage some years back. The LAMJC x UNDFTD x Colette was also just a no brainer. Thank you Colette for inspiring me and many others, building the scene we celebrate today.”

Nike Air Max Pillar

“Wow! These are grails for any kid growing up in Cape Town. In the days of TN’s and TL’s, the beautiful era of the mid-90s and Air Bubbles, these were something you had to be seen in on the streets. They were the statement shoe of the Cape Flats and worn by the biggest bosses in the street. They discontinued the year after release and only popped up back in SA around 13 years later, they’re a pair of pure nostalgia.”

New Balance 998 Horween

“These made-in-USA 998s are the most luxurious feeling kicks I own, no doubt! Made from Horween leather at one of, if not the oldest, Tannery factory founded in 1905 in Chicago. When someone says you can’t come in ‘cos you ain’t got smart shoes on but you got these on – Bounce! Pure luxury, style and comfort.”

adidas Micropacer

“The Micropacer is one of my all time favourites, and undoubtedly had the most tech and were the most futuristic kicks to come out in ’84. It wasn’t until many years later, when they were re-released again, that I managed to cop. Today the NMD is modelled off this silhouette and time keeps pushing on. Future!”

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