Paisano Unlaced: Affordable fashion

Alex Hanks, Opinion Editor

Welcome to Paisano Unlaced!

Self-expression is the cornerstone of the human experience. We shape our identities through how we portray ourselves, and we build connections with fellow humans through self- expression. I tend to gravitate toward expression through sneakers and apparel. Fashion is a way for me to express myself and give those who don’t know me a feel of who I am as a person. Since fashion is one of the only aspects of my life I can control, I have been driven to keep learning about sneaker culture and the fashion industry altogether.

For instance, the Nike Doernbecher Freestyle Collection is a line of different Nike sneakers all designed by pediatric patients at the Doernbecher Children’s hospital in Oregon. Some of the most iconic Nike sneakers were designed by these patients. Each shoe is personalized to share a message within the shoe itself. Proceeds from these sneakers go directly back to the hospital, and the designs these children curated have become some of the most sought-after sneakers in the world, the iconic Air Jordan 4s going for over $1,000 on reselling sites. But opening the box and reading a heartfelt message from a child shifts how we see shoes and clothing.

This paradigm shift isn’t exclusive to the Doernbecher series — the story behind many other pieces have changed the conversation around the industry throughout its history. Even if the story behind your fashion experience isn’t as far reaching as the Doernbecher sneaker, we all have a story for something we decide to wear. When I received my acceptance email from UTSA, I was wearing a pair of the Jordan 1.5 Reverse Fragments, one of the least sought-after Jordan sneakers. Nevertheless, the sneakers’ attachment to the memory of being accepted to college was enough for me to wear them until the sole became unglued. 


Paisano Unlaced intends to encapsulate just that: understanding how the historical significance of sneakers and apparel has molded the human experience. Whether it is a piece held high by the masses or by a single person, there is a story for every pair of shoes and every article of clothing. Fashion is an incredibly intricate topic: Understanding why the industry is how it is and why we wear what we wear offers us the opportunity of limitless self-expression, and that in itself should be celebrated.


The affordable choices:

As we all know, a quality pair of sneakers is hard to come by for college students since finding affordable options that are not only comfortable but also trendy and affordable is difficult. Not only can checking off all those boxes be incredibly frustrating, but you can end up settling for a sneaker that doesn’t fit or that you can’t help but cringe at when lacing them up before going out.

Arguably the most iconic sneaker alongside the classic Chuck Taylor, the Air Jordan 1 model has become a staple in any sneaker enthusiast’s closet. It was inevitable that Michael Jordan’s prolific, electric energy would translate to the sneaker and fashion community, completely altering the way we wear shoes today. “The Last Dance,” an ESPN documentary series focused on the life and legacy of Jordan’s life thus far, has caused the price of the Jordan 1 to skyrocket drastically. A pre-owned pair of an original 1985 Air Jordan 1 High “Chicago” is currently sitting at around $3,000 on popular reselling apps like Goat and StockX. Unless FAFSA messed up and refunded you a ridiculous amount of cash, your odds of picking up this sneaker are slim.

Jordan 1 Mid

But a cost-efficient alternative to such an expensive sneaker is likely sitting on the shelves of retailers near you. 2020 has seen a handful of noticeable Jordan 1 Mid releases. The Jordan 1 Mid takes on the overall aesthetic of the original Jordan 1 High but in a slightly shorter mid-top form. What is so appealing about the Jordan 1 Mid is the influx of colorways we have seen released this year. I managed to pick up a pair of the Jordan 1 Mid “Black Toe Chicago” for roughly $70 on sale at a nearby Foot Locker. What made me gravitate toward the shoe was its clearly drawn inspiration from the original Chicago high-style sneaker. But regardless of the silhouette, the Jordan 1 Mid is an accessible sneaker that provides the comfort and style of shoes with much higher price points. 



Image by Alex Hanks

In college, attempting to indulge in sneaker culture without knowing why or how a sneaker holds its value is critical in your success as a collector. If you want your collection to grow, taking the affordable and accessible route from the start will allow for just that. Just like the myriad of Jordan 1 silhouettes and styles driven by a rich history of designers and innovators, other shoes with groundbreaking and downright interesting styles are sitting on shelves and flowing with stock on retail sites. The sneaker community tends to hyper focus on one specific style of sneaker while the next big thing is sitting on the clearance rack. Finding a shoe that works for you should remain a top priority, but being able to keep up with the newest wave while also preserving your bank account is vital.





Image by Alex Hanks

Restricting ASICS to a single model that offers both comfort and affordability would be doing the brand an injustice. Originally called “Onitsuka Tiger,” ASICS is one of the first sneaker companies in the world. From making shoes for soldiers during wartime to now collaborating with some of the most influential artists and creatives such as Ronnie Fieg, ASICS has continually produced unique sneakers that are accessible to consumers— the same holds true with the ASICS gel tiger model. At the lowest price point of this article, ASICS are available on outlet sites for as low as $20. Most models keep the same caged logo design on the upper panel of the shoe, but this simplistic design allows ASICS to add a unique spin to each pair.


Nike Air Max 270

Image by Alex Hanks


The Nike Air Max 270, one of the latest additions to the Air Max family, has panned out to be my favorite sneaker in my closet. The Air Max technology (the big bubble on the midsole) offers added comfort and shock absorption, but the prolific Air Max bubble isn’t the focal point of this sneaker; rather, it’s the infinite range of color palettes Nike was able to make work. This allowed for mass production of the sneaker, driving the price of pairs down to the $40-$50 range. Typically, an Air Max sneaker will retail from around $150-$200, so having the same comfort with a different, more vibrant model adds a unique take to styling options. Although it presents itself to the consumer as a running shoe, I found myself styling my pair with black jeans and a sweatshirt. Upon first glance, the shoe looked like a gimmicky cash grab attempt by using the Air Max name. But after picking up a pair, it turned out to be the pair of shoes I always go back to.