Mark Champion is Laced Out
We chop it up with one of the founders and organizers of Laces Out, Mark Champion. We get in depth about sneakers, his event, and how he and his crew put on for their city.
Laces Out is an annual sneaker and street wear event that takes place on Memorial Day weekend in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas. The event caters to the subculture of “sneaker collecting” and has evolved into one of the biggest and fastest growing trends in the world, attracting aficionados ranging from teenage consumers to the veteran sneakers buyer in their late 30’s. Laces Out is an event presented and hosted by Cursed Collective, a promotional group led by Mark Champion & Jonathan Solis. Cursed Collective has been holding large, successful lifestyle and street events in Corpus Christi for over ten years. We chopped it up with Mark Champion about Laces Out, sneakers, and his very first edition of Mass Appeal. Check it out!
Mass Appeal: Hey Mark what’s going on man?
Mark Champion: Nothing much man, just hustling and bustling, trying get this event going.
MA: I can imagine you’re probably busy as hell right now.
M: Crazy busy man
MA: So before I ask you anything, first thing I need know is what are your top 3 favorite kicks of all time?
M:My top 3?
MA: Of all time.
M: Ok when I first broke into the whole shoe game, I was in high school at the time, so at that time pink box SB’s were just coming out.
MA: Pink boxes, wow.
M: Pink box SB’s and like silver box SB’s, and the first premier edition of what SB was really doing dropped, and I was kind of like mesmerized. Like how the hell they going put a sneaker in a pink box, that’s kind of crazy, but I fell in love with it, know what I’m saying, and the first shoe I think I really feel in love with and was just mesmerized by, was of course was the diamond SB’s, the tiffanies, you know.
MA: The Tiffany joints, the black and teal low top dunks.
M: The Tiffanies are something I see, and it just brings back memories of me chasing them for so long. It just brings back good times, and a good point in my life. So whenever I see that shoe, it just brings a good feeling inside. My second favorite pair I would say is probably the Air Max infrared 90’s. They’re very versatile and can really go with anything; they’re OG’s of course so when Nike decided to retro them out, I was all about it. I love me a pair of air max.
MA: Do you like the vintage re-release with the aged look?
M: Not really, I’m not really a fan of those. I like they ones they re-released like 3 years ago, 4 years ago.
MA: I feel the same way. If my sneakers are going to turn yellow, then let me turn them yellow. (Laughs)
M:I think my 3rd favorite pair would be the Emerald Griffey Air Max 1.
MA: Very good choice.
M: I grew up idolizing baseball. If you grew up in the 90’s and watched baseball, you were definitely a fan of Ken Griffey Jr., so for me having the freshest Nikes on the field and on at school was the best thing. My dad was consistent on buying me a fresh pair of Griffeys every time they dropped. I remember wearing them to school and I had everybody breaking necks. Whenever they brought them back out a couple years back, I bought me two pairs, I always keep one on ice, but I always got my side pair just to rock.
MA: I respect the fact that you’re someone who appreciates a shoe both on and off the field. I want to go back to the Tiffanies. What was your experience trying to get those? I know they where limited. Did you walk straight in the mall to get them? Did you have to wait on any crazy kind of lines?
M: Here’s the funny story I never really got them. See I had won them on eBay like years after they dropped. I finally found them on eBay, everything was legit, and the seller was legit. Everything was legit about it, and the auction was super cool. I was like man you know what I’m walk away with a $150 dollar shoe, they cost way more than that. After at looking at all the pictures dissecting everything, analyzing every aspect of that auction. I thought everything was legit, that’s why I was so stoked about it. I forgot what the eBay dude’s name was. I won the auction. I think I paid for shipping and everything totaled was like $170. This had to be like 06, anyways the dude ended up sending the package, and the Tiffanies weren’t even inside. They were Slam City SB’s.
So I’m like these aren’t Tiffanies, so I hit him up like hey was up with that. He was like “aww man your package switched with someone else’s, I don’t know what to do.” I was like super down about it, then eventually I was like I’m not even tripping. I’m good with a pair of Slam City SB’s. So for me I spent at least a good 2 years hunting this shoe, and it’s kind of like when your rounding third base, and you get blue balls. You get so close to it, it finally comes, and you’re just get let down. You’re kind of like what just happened. After that I kind of gave up, and I had a couple more opportunities in the future to get a pair, but I let them go man, for me it was just a good time in my life, and it reminds me of when I started getting into shoes. It just stands out to me personally. Even though I never really owned a pair, it still serves as a story to me. It brought me back down and said ok this is what you got.
MA: Yeah man, that’s the game. Those eBay sellers, you got to watch out for those dudes.
M: Especially back in 2006, 2005. eBay was a lot more different back then. You can’t really trust anybody on eBay now days.
MA: Word. So tell me about your event “Laces Out.”
M: So I don’t know if you know ya’ll pay attention, but Texas is like really on point when it comes to sneakers. Every year there is an event in every major city in Texas. There is one in Dallas called Kixpo; Houston has the “H-Town Sneaker Summit”, which is really popular. San Antonio has “Sneaks Up”. The Valley, which is in McAllen, TX, has it “Kicking it on the Border.” I’m from Corpus Christi, which is of course the home of Selena. It’s the home of a lot of things and is right by the water. It is a really beautiful city. I live in Houston now. I’ve been living there for the past year and a half, so I have been thinking to myself I really want to put on for Corpus the way these other cities have. I’ve been doing events and shows since 06, for like rap battles and stuff like that. I said you know what, I’ve been a sneaker head for so many years, my friends are all sneaker heads, we need to come together and do a sneaker event. So last year we teamed up and brought Corpus its first sneaker expo. That was Laces Out. 2012 was the guinea pig year, as I call it, and we had a huge turnout, it was nuts. It was on a hot Sunday afternoon.
MA: So the first official Laces Out event was last year?
M: Yeah, it was in a venue called House of Rock. We are actually using that this year for the pre-party the night before, but last year’s event was a huge turn out. I really didn’t expect Corpus to show out like that. We were able to bridge a lot of gaps at that time. We were able to have people come out and network with in Corpus’s sneaker community. People who are not able to go to Dallas or go out of state, were able to meet these vendors and exclusive people, who are just flipping sneakers. Corpus was basically able to get face-to-face time with these guys and chop it up, like “hey I’m trying get this pair, like oh ok cool I got them at the crib, I got that pair, hit me up here is my twitter.” Word I appreciate that.”
MA: So basically you put this whole thing together because you wanted to put your city on, Corpus Christi.
MA: How did you do it? How did you start from just a sneaker head to an event planner?
M: Networking man, good people, good communication skills, just networking and creating a fan base out of my city and out of town. My crew and me were able to put on hip-hop shows, me were able to do block parties. We were able to host events, we were able to host house parties. We were able to do b-boy shows, and all this time we were doing graffiti jams. I’m hosting it, we were putting it together, were doing all these events, and we haven’t done a sneaker event yet, like why don’t we come together and do one? Everyone was like word lets do it. So I put the reigns on that and that’s how it pretty much came together. We just basically held it down to were we created just a good networking community within Corpus, where everyone knows what we do, what were about, to know how we are, and there able to be like oh so and so is throwing an event and were totally going to be there cause its Cursed Collectives. Cursed Collective is the guys who put on, when people think of others guys there like naw I’m good, but when they think of Cursed Collective put to it, there going to be there.
MA: So you basically bridged the gap between all your ideas and stuff you’ve done in the past, and made it about sneakers.
MA: That’s really dope. I remember going down to Texas around a year or two ago, and visiting Austin and San Antonio saying to myself, the scene down here is really ill. I didn’t know there were so many people down there into the same thing I’m into.
M:Yeah, it’s very different.
MA: I think its dope to know theres dudes down there really putting events together. Not only for sneakers but also for Hip Hop and graffiti. At the end of the day all those lifestyles fit together. I actually want to ask you, what is your experience with Mass Appeal?
M: I think I was a junior or sophomore in high school. This kid use to hang out by the library, and back in high school the skaters use to hang with the punks, the metal heads would hang with the punks. Pretty much everyone just hung out together, and I loved bikes I was BMX-er, and the BMX-ers would hang out with the skaters. Everybody just use to congregate in front of the library before school. We’ll post up, kick it or whatever, and there was this one dude who always used to be dressed really dope. This guy is always wearing Stussy, and always looking pretty fly. So one day he had some magazines, and I was like oh what you got there, and he was like oh its Mass Appeal. I was like, what is it about, and he gives me a copy. His like “just give it to me later on.” I started going through it, and it was the copy with The Clipse on the front cover.
MA: The one with Pusha T rocking the “You know what I sell tee” and Malice had the “there is no business like snow business tee.”
M: Yes, that’s was the issue, and that was me discovering Clipse, and then Pharrell, and N.E.R.D. Then Kanye like a year later, when he started blowing up. At that time I was more into underground Hip Hop, like the whole Atmosphere thing. Then I saw The Clipse, like these guys seem kind of cool, and then I listened to their stuff on My Space back then or I think it was Rhapsody back then. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember catching the music, but I remember just subscribing to Mass Appeal or I’ll go somewhere and cop it. I know it use to be in Barnes and Noble back in the day.
Mass Appeal for me was just a good time in high school. It reminds me of my high school days, back when I was collecting sneakers, talking to honeys. Just being a high school kid, being a senior, and getting drunk off of one 40oz. (Laughs) Like Mass Appeal was around at that time. When I think about the name Mass Appeal it just reminds of that point in my life. On top of that I’m one of the biggest Gang Starr fans you’ll ever meet in your life bro. I am ride and die, I mean DJ Premier is from Houston, the name Mass Appeal originally came from a Gang Starr track, and I always thought it was so fucking cool, how that came together.
MA: What was your most memorable experience at Laces Out?
M: There was a point when I was on the stage, fell to the back of the stage, just to get a point of view so I could see out into the venue. I’m saying to myself this is Corpus out in this event, and were in Corpus, were not in San Antonio, were not in Austin, were not in Houston. This is Corpus Christi, it gave me a good sense of self, cause I was able to bring these vendors to Corpus. For me to see that, putting on for my city, along with my crew, that gave me a good feeling inside you know. Being able to see that Corpus was very responsive and accepted of a different culture. There were able to get out their bubble and experience something they never been exposed to in the past, and it was just a good feeling knowing, that Corpus was acceptable of higher class vendors, and people out of state and stuff like that.
MA: How many people did turn out?
M: Last year with staff and vendors, and attendees I would say about 800 people.
MA: Wow, for the first event?
M: Yeah, and that was just a Sunday afternoon in the middle of May. It wasn’t like a Saturday night kind of thing.
MA: What is your most memorable moment with a pair of sneakers? I’m not asking about the sneaker its self, but just a crazy moment in your life overall. I know you talked about the whole eBay experience with the Tiffanys. Griffey’s and all that stuff, but a memorable moment in your life, and what sneakers you had on.
M: Its actually funny, this kind of happened about a month and half ago. I’ve been chasing this one show for like for about 3 years now, it’s the Nike Air Max 1 orange blaze. It’s just a basic Air Max, It is orange, light grey, and white, and it is the epitome. I think Nike only sold it in certain stores out of country, and they never retailed it. I want to say it was a sample. They never retailed it for a full line. I had seen a picture of it online and stuff like that. A couple years pass by and I was on Instagram. I post pictures on Instagram of the shoe like “this is the one shoe I let get away.” People liked it or whatever. This one guy I know from San Antonio, hits me up like you know Sean right? I was like yeah I know Sean. He says well Sean has a pair. I haven’t seen Sean in like 4 or 5 years; so he says well if you ever see him again, see if you can buy them from him. So a month after that, were in San Antonio at the Sneaks Up Event, which just passed a couple weeks ago. Were in San Antonio and were kicking it, and I see my homie and his with Sean, and I’m like, “What’s up Sean?”
First thing that came to my mind was do you still have those orange blaze AM1’s? He is like yeah, was up? Now keep in mind this guy Sean was in the military for like 4 or 5 years. He peaced out, he left Texas and joined the military. Nobody saw him besides Facebook and stuff like that. So this is the first time I see Sean in like 5 years. In the back of my head I’m like I hope you still got them. His like yeah I still got them. I said if you ever want to part ways with them let me know. His like uh I will let you know. I’m like alright, whatever cool. I knew he wasn’t going to give it up, I wasn’t even feeling it, but it was worth the try. So I’m sitting there, we got the Laces Out booth, were promoting our event in San Antonio. We got all the sneakers set up, chilling having a good time. So Sean walks up and his smiling. He goes here and is holding a box and he says “here you take care of them.” I open them up and they’re the orange blaze AM1s. I’m looking at them and there dead stock, I mean just as dead stock as you can get. I wanted to cry, and I sat down.
MA: Hold on, so he just gave them to you?
M: He just gave them to me for free, and I’m just like Sean let me pay you back. His like “naw man you just take care of them, don’t worry bro I got you.” I’m like did you really just do this, and my girl is just looking at me in shock. To be honest I was about to cry, I was really about to cry. I was about to ball and I’m sitting there and everyone is just looking at me, and all I could say was thanks man I appreciate it. I got up, dapped him up, and gave him a hug. I was like I’ll appreciate it, and he was like I’ll catch you later Mark, and I was like I’ll catch you later Sean. I’m just like how the hell did this just happen.
MA: That’s so dope, It just seems to me, I don’t know but his a military dude so his probably a really noble kind of guy, and probably seen what you were doing, and was just impressed by that.
M: I don’t know what it was but it really touched me. It brought me down to earth. It really humbled me to have someone like that, who I haven’t seen in years, just award me with me with these pair of Air Max 1s. I was just in awe like is this really happening right now.
MA: That really shows the depth and emotion behind this culture. The personal connections and stories that come with our obsession. That was a really dope story. Thanks man.
M: No doubt bro, anytime.