The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 35 — The bots won again

Damn them. Damn them all.

Good morning everyone! Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you so much for giving me a bit of your time to kick off your week. Let’s all go hard and come back on Friday with good stories to tell.

Today’s shoutout goes to everybody who became a D.C. Defenders fan over the weekend along with me. Listen, I ain’t rolling with the XFL too hard. But, as always, it's D.C. or nothing, baby. Is what it is.

Anyways, let’s jump in.

Technology sucked this weekend

(Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash)

Aight, so I’m assuming that most of us had Saturdays that went something like this:

  • You woke up around 8 or so, checked your clock and realized you had a couple hours until the Strangelove Dunks and the ‘85 Air Jordan 1 drop on SNKRS.

  • You get out of bed, go grab a bit of breakfast, waste a bit of time until 9:40 when you bust out the phone, laptop and/or tablet. You open the app and get ready.

  • 10:00 a.m. hits. The app crashes. You get in line for both after a 6 minute refresh. You take your L’s.

Happy Saturday, Amirite?

The bots really won again. There were so many people who carried out their Saturday disappointed — not because they didn’t get the shoes, but because they didn’t really get a fair chance to buy the shoes.

  • For those of us who don’t know, a bot is an automated computer script that is programmed to complete certain tasks automatically faster than any human online could. In our case, the task is buying up sneakers.

All of the traffic on Nike’s SNKRS app from bots and humans combined added up to a real cluster fuck. As soon as the joints dropped, they both read as sold out immediately. Literally as soon as the clock struck 10:00.

A lot of people complained about Nike and the SNKRS app. The experience, obviously, wasn’t great and the app being buggy didn’t help. But this isn’t a SNKRS problem, y’all. It’s a bot problem.

Strangelove Skateboarding got it worse than SNKRS did. They cancelled their online release outright because bots broke into the web store. People had to actually go to the store for their pairs, which is why lines were looking like 2009 all over again.

It’s bigger than one or two releases. Bots became bigger back in 2016 when Yeezy was in its prime.

  • People programmed them to ensure they’d get a space in line for popular releases that would sell out in seconds behind low supply and high demand.

  • As sneakers have moved further and further into the mainstream and the secondary market has continued to build, bots have become more popular…and also more problematic.

Bots aren’t just a line cutting tactic anymore. We saw it this weekend. They effectively crash customer service systems and we don’t really have that many viable solutions to them. The best one is probably the random drawing system, but bots can get into those and grant people multiple entries. So it’s not a cure-all by any means.

Footlocker is employing an interesting strategy with its FLX rewards program. It combines all of Footlocker’s subsidiaries (Champs, Eastbay, Footaction, etc.) into one entity and allows its members to secure one pair of sneakers per person on big drops.

  • There’s still a multiple e-mail entry work around that can be used. It just might take a bit more time to work out. For that money, though? It’s worth it.

The system is hard to combat right now and with things going as far as they have and businesses actually being impacted, the feds may step in at some point. They did it with the ticket industry. They can do it here.

For once in my life, I feel like calling the feds might be a necessary thing do to.

What the hell am I becoming?!?!?

At the same time, technology can be great too

(Photo by Matthew Feeney on Unsplash)

When I’m not completely terrified about where artificial intelligence is taking us as a society (which is, like, 80% of the time), it actually has some pretty cool uses. One of those cool uses is in sneakers.

Entrupy, an authentication tech company, released its Legit Check Tech solution device last week according to Business Insider. It’s a big, wooden box with eight cameras inside that scan your shoes.

(via Business Insider)

The device comes with a corresponding app that authenticators can use to scan Nike or Adidas shoes to figure out if they’re fakes or not. Its limited to those two brands for now.

Here’s how it works:

  • First, you connect your phone to the app and select the sneaker’s brand — Nike or Adidas.

  • Second, you take a picture of the shoe’s tag.

  • Third, you place each shoe of the pair into the device one at a time starting with the left one first. Then repeat that process for the right.

  • Finally, the device takes pictures of the shoes and scans them. It comes to a determination within a minute or so. Either they come back as verified or they come back as unidentified.

Now, obviously, you don’t need this tech to determine real from fake. You can identify fakes from things like faulty stitching and crafting or the actual smell of a shoe. But using AI certainly might make processes a bit quicker.

Technology like this is going to help prevent big counterfeit shipments from slipping through customs everywhere, which is a pretty dope thing.

Finally, some tech news that we can stan for. More scanning shoes, less scanning faces. This is the good stuff.

Nike is REALLY getting off the hook

Nike, somehow, someway, just keeps dodging hits when it comes to the regulation of high tech runners.

Last week we found that that the World Athletics commission wouldn’t be banning Nike’s Vaporfly — the shoe that’s helping runners bust everybody’s ass left and right —from the Olympic games. Instead of banning it, they temporarily halted the development of any new shoe technology until after the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Apparently, Nike is also allowed to enter another shoe into the fray — the Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. This is the shoe that Eliud Kipchoge wore to run a full marathon in less than two hours.

Here’s more from Khadeeja Safdar and Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal:

New restrictions introduced last week by track and field’s world governing body didn’t just spare the company’s controversial Vaporfly sneakers from a ban. They also set the requirements at levels that allow the next generation of Nike distance-running shoes to sneak just under the limits.

Nike said its Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, a prototype of which Eliud Kipchoge wore in October to run a marathon in less than two hours, falls within the new requirements. Two of the company’s new designs, which will be released later in the spring, will also likely be eligible for competition before the Tokyo Games, giving Nike’s performance-boosting shoes the broad blessing of international authorities while its rivals scramble to get similar sneakers to market.

This…is weird. Nike is the company that started this whole mess by pushing boundaries — which is fine! But it also seems like no one else is being allowed to catch up, which doesn’t feel fair.

No idea how this all ends up eventually with the ban and everything, but I can assure you this: Nike will dominate Athletics in the Olympics this summer.

Nike’s Air Max City collection is 🔥🔥🔥

Man, listen. I wouldn’t consider myself an Air Max guy. But these joints? I needs em.

Nike is dropping an Air Max 90 for a five cities across the globe — New York, Shanghai, London, Paris, and Tokyo. This is a really solid collection. My favorite joint has to be the Tokyo’s.

I won’t bombard y’all with tweets because your e-mail will go insane if I do, but you can look at the rest of the collection here. They drop on the 10th, so stay sharp.

If I had to rank em, I’d go:

  1. Tokyo

  2. London

  3. New York

  4. Hong Kong

  5. Paris

But, trust me when I say I’d wear all of these joints. Y’all already know how I’m finna give it up this summer. Catch me in them Tokyo’s real soon.

What’s droppin’ bruh

That’s it for Monday, y’all! Thank you so much, as always, for reading and giving me a bit of your time. Sharing my Monday mornings with y’all will never ever ever ever get old.

As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯