Nike ACG - Mud Puddles in the Concrete Desert | Grailify
Nike ACG - Mud Puddles in the Concrete Desert

Nike ACG - Mud Puddles in the Concrete Desert

A Collector's Choice Feature with Karl Hamacher

The ACG concept was officially introduced by Nike in 1989 and was meant to bridge the gap between urban aesthetics and outdoor performance. For true fans, this era had already begun in the early 80s, when shoes like the Lava Dome or the Approach were launched. But unlike many crossover products that followed later from other brands, ACG - especially in the early days - really delivered what it promised.
The designs were unique, the marketing was to the point, the materials were durable and even the ventilation was excellent. Many ACG models later became classics and influenced the entire industry far beyond the outdoor category. And what is even more interesting: Nike ACG has captivated a whole generation of collectors.

Just as All Conditions Gear has long been an underdog for the house of Swoosh, the aficionado we're about to introduce to you has long kept his amazing collection under the radar. Frankfurt's Karl Hamacher, no particular friend of social media, owns gems from all eras of ACG and loves everything from sneakers to apparel to shirts, accessories and even sandals.
But because he is not only a sports shoe maniac but also a human being, he answered these questions in between changing nappies, excursions through the urban concrete landscape, a full-time job and his older daughter's ballet class.
Since when have you been interested in sneakers?
I've always been a late bloomer in life, whether it was learning to speak, finding a partner or finishing my studies. I always had some kind of sneaker - tennis shoes for playing tennis, later skateboarding shoes for thrashing around on the board, the adidas Campus because of hip-hop in the 90s and later I regularly destroyed a pair of Air Max or Prestos. Then in late 2009 it became a more serious obsession. It was the time when my girlfriend was pregnant and I was afraid that my youth would evaporate. It was also the time of the infamous German sneaker forum "Sneaker-TV". I started buying a lot, but wasn't really fixated on a particular brand or style.

For some people, this is the centrepiece of ACG - the Mowabb. The Mowabb Plus set is complete - except for a beige Limited Edition colourway that only appeared in a strange old Japanese Nike catalogue. That means Karl is still on the hunt.
So how did you go from collecting regular sneakers like collaborations to buying all the incredible Nike ACG, Terra and Alpha Project stuff?
It wasn't really a conscious decision, but more of a process. I had already collected quite a few vintage shoes, and at some point I had also stacked up about a hundred Air Max 1 colours, and I was starting to get bored with that. Discovering all the ACG stuff was a whole new world. There's a huge variety of shapes, colours and models, and you keep finding weird and unfamiliar stuff you've never seen before. It's not the usual stuff. Somehow it has this charm for me, as if it comes from the future. And that means it doesn't get boring.
When did you realise that your passion for shoes had evolved towards the weird?
There were certain incidents. I got eBay links from my old companion Wolf Naujoks, who kept showing me rare shoes that he would have bought if they had been his size. So I was able to buy the original ACG Terra in this purple colour for $16. When I received this shoe, I was so excited; everything about it was just perfect. So I immediately wanted more of this drug. And I started looking. When you have a lot, you want more to complete the sets. By the way, I'm still looking for the OG Tallac and the Tallac Lite Gore-Tex.
You heard it folks, get in touch if you have a pair. What qualities does a shoe have to have to catch your attention?
Gore-Tex. You can always get me with Gore-Tex. I like shoes that are useful in everyday life. Innovative things that are still comfortable. The shape is also important. The whole package has to fit.

Are you immediately enthusiastic about certain models or does it take time for you to appreciate them?
Sometimes it's instant love, but especially with newer stuff I might think "no" at first, but then I start to understand the idea behind it. It was the same with the Nike ACG Lupinek. It's the only shoe I've bought twice.
While we're at it, please name five Nike ACG or Terra shoes that are most important to you.
ACG Mowabb Plus for comfort and materials. ACG Dri Goat Alpha Project Gore-Tex. It simply has everything. The Deschütz sandal: the mother of all sandals. Terra Albis and Sertig; the Albis 2 is my favourite because of the lacing system. And the NikeLab ACG Lupinek is one of the best shoes Nike has released in recent years. With Gore-Tex, of course, it would be even better.

Minimalism. The new school of the ACG: Lupinek and kmtr 07.
What do you think about Nike now building the ACG more or less around one person, Errolson Hugh from Acronym?
Errolson is an outstanding designer and one of the most visionary minds of our time. Acronym's stuff is just great. The danger is that it gets boring after a while. On the other hand, it's great that ACG is associated with a person with such a mystical aura, so it gets a lot of attention. It's a win-win situation for both Nike and Errolson Hugh. The gear is great, but the shoes need better materials to live up to the promise of ACG. It should be renamed UCG - Urban Conditions Gear.

The OG Terra Sertig from 1997 (left) and a newer version from 2016 (right).
Do you also feel that the whole marketing and image of ACG was different back then?
Just look at some of these names - "Deschütz" and so on. I'm sure the creators of these things, Tinker Hatfield, Steve McDonald and Peter Fogg, are really crazy guys. And you need a sense of humour to create products like that. They were way ahead and ahead of their time. It was a crazy time and the results speak for themselves. I'm just a little disappointed that Nike doesn't pay as much attention to these details as they used to. Just think of the great names Nike gave their older ACG and Terra shoes. "Sertig" and "Albis" are mountains in Switzerland. The "Deschütz" sandal refers to how the Germans spell the Deschutz River in Oregon.
What would you like to see in the future of sneakers?
You can't turn back the clock, but I would like to see more diversity on the streets. I would like younger people to start looking at what else is out there besides the popular stuff. From Nike I would like to see more attention to detail and materials. If they sell a "waterproof" shoe, I want to be able to walk on the beach in it with dry feet.

Crazy Circle: Nike Terra/Trail shoes from all eras
Would you like to share a few last words with us?
I think a Nike VaporMax is to a startup, third-wave, coffee-ramen-burger, Instagram blogger type what a Nike Mowabb used to be to the geography teacher or the lonely hiker. So it's a cycle. ACG is like a good song. Not everyone understands it, and you can even give it your own meaning.
Photos: Holger von Krosigk 

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