Sneakersmag Interview: ACG collector Karl Hamacher
Mud-puddles in the concrete desert
Like the All Conditions Gear has always been an underdog for the house of the Swoosh Karl Hamacher from Frankfurt Germany is not the guy who likes to show his amazing and unique collection on the usual social media channels. But because he is not not only a sport-shoes maniac but also a kind human being he made it possible to spend some of his rare time to answer some questions for us. He even showed us a small part of his collection inbetween changing diapers, bringing the older daughter to her ballet sessions, excursions through urban concrete landscapes and his full-time job.
1. Hello Karl, how long have you been interested in sneakers? How long are you collecting and reflecting?
I always was a late burner in life. If it was learning to talk, dating girls or finishing education and studies. I always had some sneakers, tennis shoes for playing tennis, later skateboard shoes for thrashing the board. Adidas Campus because of Hip Hop in the 90s and later I destroyed some Air Max or Prestos on a regular basis. It started to become a more serious possession at the end of 2009. It was the time when my girlfriend was pregnant and it felt like the youth is somehow over and it was the era of the infamous sneaker-forum sneaker-tv. I started buying a lot at that time. I wasn’t really focused on a special brand or style. It started with Airmax 1 and 90- then Vintage shoes, Adidas, New Balance and at some point I had a lot of stuff.
2. How did it happen that you came from collecting more common stuff like Collaborations to buying all that incredible ACG, Terra and Alpha Project stuff?
It was not really a conscious decision, it was a longer process. I had already collected quite an amount of vintage shoes. They where a lot better regarding shape, colors and materials. At one point I had also stacked like a hundred Airmax 1 colorways and it started to bore me to death. With discovering all that ACG stuff you have a great variety of forms, colors and models and you always find some more strange unknown stuff that you have never seen before. It is not the usual stuff. It seems to be stuff from the future. Hence it does not get boring.
3. Was there an event which quickened the development towards more special stuff?
When that Airmax 1 hype started and the Hype around New Balance 1500 and Gel Lyte 3. People started to pay stunning amounts of money for limited Collaborations. Like spending 1000 Euros for a former 40 Euro outlet shoe. It became really absurd. It got monotonous because you saw the same few hyped shoes on every channel.
People where just buying everything with no plan behind it and because the prices where so high I just started to sell the hype stuff.
4. When did you realize that it started to get weirder with your shoe passion?
There where certain incidents. I got eBay links from my old companion Wolf Naujoks who kept showing me rare shoes he would have bought if they where his size. This made it possible to buy the original ACG Terra in that purple colorway for like 16 Dollars. When I received that shoe I was so excited: Everything about it was just perfect. So I instantly wanted to have more of that drug. And I started to search. If you have a lot you want even more to complete the sets. I am still searching for OG Tallac and Tallac Lite Goretex by the way.
5. When does a shoe bore you?
When I see a shoe too often. Sometimes even that ACG stuff bored me so I started collecting ACG Deschütz sandals because they where different. I realized that you can purchase them for very cheap. The Deschütz is the mother of all outdoor sandals.
Nike ACG Air Wildwood
Nike ACG Crested Butte Goretex
Nike ACG Dri Goat Alpha Project
Nike Air Moc
Nike Air Skarn OG
Nike ACG Tallac
6. When are you excited? Can it happen that it takes a while until you start to like a shoe?
Sometimes it is instant love but especially with newer stuff I might first think No, but later I start to understand the idea behind it. With the Nike ACG Lupinek it was like that. It is the only shoe I doubled up.
7. Which attributes does a shoe need to get your attention?
Goretex. You always get me with goretex. I like shoes which are useful on a daily basis. Innovative stuff which is still comfy. The form is also important. The whole package has to fit together.
8. How does that whole sneaker game changed in the last years due to your perception?
As one of the older guys I do not want to be too romantic but to be honest it was way better back in the days. You where able to get hype stuff for retail. Nowadays it is just more crowded and commercialised. Sometimes I miss the old way of dealing with shoes. It makes me a bit sad that hypes are just planned and initiated through bloggers and social media.
9. What would you wish for the future of sneakers? What would you like to see more often on the streets?
You cannot pull back the wheel of time but I would like to see more diversity on the streets. I wished that younger people start to look what else is out there besides the popular stuff. From Nike I want more love to the details and materials. For example Nike just re-released the ACG Air Moc, which is an incredible silhouette but they just did release them without ACG logo. But this shoe is such a classic ACG shoe. I wish that they would have more respect and love for the detail. If they sell a shoe which is stated to be water resistant I would like to be able to walk with them with dry feet on the shorelines of Sylt beaches and anywhere else.
10. Name five ACG/Terra shoes which are the most relevant to you.
ACG Mowabb Plus because of comfort and materials.
ACG Dri Goat Alpha Project Goretex. He just has it all.
The Deschütz Sandal, the mother of all sandals
Terra Albis und Sertig, Albis 2 is my favorite because of the lacing system.
And the Nikelab ACG Lupinek is one of the best shoes Nike released in the last years. With Goretex it would be much better of course.
11. Is there something you like to say about the Wanderdüne project?
Sure. My old companion Wolf Raoul Naujoks and me we are traveling two times at winter and autumn to the northern shorelines of Sylt island. Under difficult conditions we test older and newer ACG and Terra materials and enjoy some Whisky inbetween.
The results: When it comes to practice we get wet feet in the newer fancy stuff when the „Blanker Hans“ sea tries to grab us by our balls.
12. Is there some kind of humor in Nike ACG? Or are there even some kind of romantic feelings involved?
What is humor? It is a matter of definition. But just have a look at those names, Deschütz and so on. I am sure that the creators of that stuff like Tinker Hatfield, Steve Mc Donald and Peter Fogg are really crazy guys. And you need a sense of humor to create stuff like this. They where far out and ahead of their time. It was a crazy time and the results speak for itself. I don’t know, I am just a bit disappointed that Nike does not pay attention to those details like they did.
I just wanted to mention the great Names Nike used to give their older ACG and Terra shoes. Sertig and Albis are Mountains in Switzerland. The Deschütz Sandal is how Germans spell the Deschutz River in Oregon and so on. Not sure what Lupinek means though.
13. What do you think about Nike concentrating on that whole ACG thing more or less on one person, Acronyms Erolson Hugh?
Erolson is an outstanding designer and one of the most visionary designers of our time. The Acronym stuff is just great. The danger is that it gets boring after a while. On the other hand it is great that ACG is linked to a person with such a mystical aura. So it gains a lot of attention. It is a win win situation for both Nike and Erolson Hugh. The gear is great, the shoes need better materials to fulfill the promise of ACG. It should be renamed in UCG- Urban Conditions Gear.
14. Is ACG still ACG?
Yes and no. It became more of a lifestyle only thing. The shoes are not performance shoes anymore. It is not what Steve and Tinker had in mind back in the days. The shoes should be able to deal with difficult weather conditions and not only look good in some fancy third wave coffee shop or on your instagram account.
15. Thank you for these great insights. Do you want to share any last words with us?
I think a Nike Vapormax is for a startup third wave coffee ramen burger instagram blogger guy what a Nike Mowabb was for the geographic teacher or the lonesome hiker back in the days. So it is all a circle. ACG is like a good song. Not everybody understands it and you can even give it a unique meaning for yourself.
(photo credits: Wolf R. Naujoks & Holger von Krosig, Interview was printed in Sneakersmag)