Even before the first sketches of Graduate Eugene started to come together, Graduate CEO Ben Weprin knew shoes — specifically Nike shoes — would be part of the story.
Weprin personally scoured eBay for months, hand-picking 43 pairs of vintage Nikes to display at the front desk of our latest hotel.
“All old-school kicks tell a story. I looked for used shoes that show the wear and tear of age, focusing on the original models that shaped the brand,” he says.
Nike was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1964. The shoes for the hotel span the years between Nike’s founding and 1980. Waffle racers. Blazer mid-tops. A pair of ’72 Cortez’s.
But the collection isn’t solely sneakers. Vintage Nike hiking boots, soccer cleats, track spikes, bowling shoes and a pair of official Nike roller skates are all in the mix.
Weprin’s been a sneakerhead for years. “I worked at a shoe store called Just For Feet all through high school. My nickname was ‘Swoosh’ because I hustled so hard in the store and loved Nikes,” he says. “I even wrote Phil Knight a letter when I graduated from college expressing my passion for Nike and asking for a job. I’ve always been obsessed with the brand and its culture.”
To get the sneakers ready for the front desk display, we brought in expert shoe stylist Michelle Wilkinson. Armed with a toothbrush, Shout wipes and her trusty handheld steamer, Wilkinson worked her magic to get all 86 shoes looking fresh.
See the collection for yourself the next time you’re in downtown Eugene, Oregon.
Graduate Eugene officially opens later this month, and we’re celebrating with our 1st annual Graduate Hotels Kickback on June 19 — free BBQ, drinks, music and over $6,000 in prize giveaways.
Pro-skater Silas Baxter-Neal will be hanging out, too, and signing decks. Get the details on Facebook.