There are several gateways through which you can learn about the sneaker space, whether it’s playing sports, receiving one of your parents’ retro Jordans from the early 90s, or seeing your celebrity. favorite rocking a new collaboration. For Al Martinello – the owner and founder of the Brooklyn-based vintage sportswear boutique Select Vintage – his kicking affinity developed as he marveled at the career of his all-time favorite hooper: Allen Iverson.
Martinello regards Iverson as his muse, developing a fandom for the All-Star Sixers since Iverson’s debut as a professional baseball player in ’96. It’s all about the Hall of Fame point guard that has him. influenced, from his ankle-breaking crossovers on hardwood to his effortless street style to his iconic sneakers. Iverson simply had an undeniable swagger about him that he couldn’t ignore, and his signature Question Mids certainly sparked his love for Reebok sneakers, allowing him to open a successful vintage store and eventually meet his hero from the hoops. in the flesh.
Despite the fact that Martinello grew up in Queens, New York – an area most often associated with the Nike Air Force 1 – Martinello never found this particular shoe movement appealing. Instead, it was the Reebok Question Mid. In the wake of Allen Iverson’s nomination to the NBA’s Top 75 list, HYPEBEAST had the chance to meet Martinello to discuss his favorite moments from the playmaker’s iconic career as well as the most Question Mid iterations. prized for his 80s and over. collection of pairs.
HYPEBEAST: Let’s start by setting the scene for our readers. How did Select Vintage come about?
Al Martinello: My Allen Iverson fandom started it all. In the early 2010s, I was reselling Iverson sneakers pretty exclusively because it was sort of a market that I was familiar with, and I was selling a lot on eBay. From there, my Allen Iverson collection kind of grew and evolved. At first it was trading cards, but then I moved on to more portable items like jerseys and game-worn memorabilia. But the only reason I had an affinity for vintage sports pieces was and pop culture was because I was a fan of AI and mainly because I was a fan of his early years in the league from 1996 to 2000.
Buying old jerseys always kept me up to date with what the market for old Champion jerseys was like and when I started selling vintage it was very sports-oriented but then it started. flourished in everything else, from music to Tommy Hilfiger to Polo.
âI was tired of going to the mall or a reception and seeing everyone wearing the same Jordans. I loved that Iversons didn’t have a real âhypeâ around them. “
I understand that Allen Iverson sparked your love for vintage items and jerseys, but would you say it sparked your love for sneakers as well?
Absoutely. The thing about the sneakers is, I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I was sick of going to the mall or a reception and seeing everyone wearing the same Jordans. I loved that Iversons didn’t have a real âhypeâ around them. You can go to Foot Locker or your local sneaker store and just buy them, and you would rarely see the same pair on someone else. And I feel like that’s what attracted me to them because no one else wore them apart from the people I knew who were Iverson fans. It’s funny because I even used to buy what I would consider the Iverson version of the Air Force 1. Reebok used to do a lot of offline models like the Reebok Pressure where they were more. lifestyle oriented and they were very inexpensive at around $ 30 USD and they basically had the same build as the Air Force 1. I even used to buy these just to be different. I am very brand loyal when it comes to Reebok, you will always catch me in an Iverson or a Pump.
Considering that you are from New York and the Big Apple is strongly associated with Air Force 1, how did the people around you react when you took a different path with your shoes on?
I’m 31 now and to this day I’m known as Allen Iverson. It was like that all through middle school, high school and beyond, so it wasn’t that weird for me. I could have been roasted because they might have looked like contraband Air Force 1s, but they just had an “I3” where the check would be, but also I really didn’t care. You know how Nelly says “Give me two pairs”, that’s what I did with Iversons, especially on eBay because you could find them for $ 20-30 US because nobody really wanted them.
What exactly did you admire about AI?
When I watched him play I could clearly see the height difference as he faced dominant and iconic crosses like Shaquille O’Neal and Dikembe Mutombo, and he always found a way to work his way through and find his pockets. The visual optics of him amazed me and the fact that he was repeatedly the best player on the pitch. It was the way he broke the defenses of a guy of this size and his fearlessness was something to admire.
So when did you start to become a fan of his shoes??
I would say during the 1999-2000 season because that was his MVP season and that included the playoffs. And on top of that, that’s when I really wanted to play like him. The first silhouette I fell in love with was the Question Lows because it came out in so many different colourways. I used to subscribe to Eastbay magazines, and they had tons of Eastbay exclusives – colourways you couldn’t just buy from your local Foot Locker. And since I grew up in Queens, they just weren’t popular with my group of friends, and that appealed to me even more.
âAs I got older I started to like Mids more. It’s a bit like loving dark beer, it’s an acquired taste.
Would you say that you are more of the Question Low or Mid type?
As I got older, I started to like Mids more. It’s a bit like loving dark beer, it’s an acquired taste. There is nothing that compares to a brand new pair of Reebok Questions as the padding is new and it just hugs your foot like a pillow. Law. So from a comfort standpoint, I also like them because they are really comfortable for me and I don’t sacrifice my comfort just because I want to be brand loyal. I really like the figure, the fit of the shoe, the amount of padding, everything is just the perfect storm for me.
Are there a couple of questions that you must have really tried to track down?
Crown Royal, the alcohol brand, collaborated on Questions and it came in a velvet purple colourway with gold stitching and special packaging. I know another big AI fan who lives in Detroit and we worked on a multiple shoe business and he threw them in the deal and I was super happy to get them. These are also special to me, as they came out at a time when catering companies weren’t really doing shoe collaborations like they do today.
Tell me about meeting Iverson in person.
It was at an autograph signing at a mall in Philly and you had to pay per item to get something signed. I brought my three foot AI bobblehead statue with me because there was no way anyone else would bring something like this, along with a vintage Iverson Jewels-40 bar vinyl record from his career rap with me to be signed. I was definitely struck by the star at the time and got to talk to her, so it was special.
What are some of your favorite AI memories from his hoop career?
It’s a bit standard but the step over Tyronne Lue of course, and that’s mostly because I remember watching it and going crazy, but also the double crossover on Antonio Daniels because it was one of the craziest moves I have ever seen. Moreover, his performance in Game 1 of the Final was also just a quintessential moment as he carried the team into overtime.
So today, you released the Reebok Question Mid âTobaccoâ and the UNDEFEATED collab? What appeals to you the most about these colors?
Both have monetary and sentimental value to me. I will never sell the INDEPENDENT colors. That in itself is almost like a âWhat Theâ Dunk to me, as colors aren’t something you can rock every day or with everything, and the asking price for these is now over a rack. The last time I wore them was when AI showed his film at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and I was actually sitting three rows behind him. I believe I copied the ‘Tobacco’ colorway via Eastbay, and it’s just one of the cleanest colorways for me, so I’ll never part with it.
âThey’re just bringing me back to a good time, especially when they weren’t pumping colourways like they do now because I think every brand now just does aimless collaborations. So for me, the sneakers are super nostalgic.
Why are sneakers and the stories they contain important to you?
Sneakers tend to take me back to another era. They remind me of when I got them, how old I was and when my life was completely different over 10 years ago, when I didn’t have any bills, I used to live at home. It’s like smelling your grandmother’s cookies. Sneakers have the same effect on me because when I hold them I remember the last time I wore them. They represent transitions in life. I can look at a certain pair of kicks and be like, âAh, I’m still 15! They’re just bringing me back to a good time, especially when they weren’t pumping up colourways like they do now because I think every brand now just does aimless collaborations. So for me, sneakers are super nostalgic.