I want to take you back to 2004, where streetwear style was Evisu Jeans, your favourite kicks and a Supreme Box logo tee that you could just walk into the store and grab. We were one year away from the first ever police intervention sneaker riot at Reed Space, an event that many claim was the start of the modern resell era. There was no Instagram, and Facebook had just been created. Crooked Tongues was a bustling online sneaker forum full of opinions, what’s on your feet today shots and release info. It was also the year of one of the most iconic Air Max sneaker releases – The DQM x Air Max 90 …or as they are fondly known, The Bacons.
Considering this was the year I properly got into collecting sneakers, it’s strange for me to think that all of the above have closed down or cease to exist, given how important they were in establishing the scene as it stands today. None more important than the DQM store on 7 East 3rd Street, NYC.
“DQM (which stands for Dave’s Quality Meat) was founded by Dave Ortiz (formerly of skate label Zoo York) and pro skateboarder Chris Keeffe.”
DQM (which stands for Dave’s Quality Meat) was founded by Dave Ortiz (formally of skate label Zoo York) and pro skateboarder Chris Keeffe. During its existence, it was listed in the Yellow Pages (the Google maps of the time) as an actual butcher’s shop. However, it has never been anything but a sneaker boutique that has taken heavy influence from Ortiz’s time working in the meatpacking district of New York. The aesthetic was unreal. Tees hung on meat hooks, there was a refrigerated case with tees in shrink wraps and all purchases came with a stamped brown paper bag.
“During its existence, DQM was listed in the Yellow Pages (the Google maps of the time) as an actual butcher’s shop. However, it has never been anything but a sneaker boutique that has taken heavy influence from Ortiz’s time working in the meatpacking district of New York.”
With all this in mind, it doesn’t take a genius to understand where the name and influence came for the iconic 90s. However, Ortiz and his crew were given 6 months by Nike to come up with the design and it wasn’t until 3 days before submission that his hankering for a Bacon and Egg sandwich saw the birth of this shoe.
One of the questions you might ask is what do these fantastic colours that Ortiz and his colleagues came up with represent? The answer to that, it’s the different stages of the meat being cooked. There was so much detail that went into this shoe and its quality was one of the main aspects people spoke about in 2004 upon its release.
In 2004 sneaker releases were very different. DQM was one of a few concept stores back in NYC and using your feet to travel between the boroughs to get access to shoes was considered the best way. However, the AM90 Bacon did not sell out in the first minute, hour or even that day. It took 2 days of foot traffic to the store for it to be gone, so was not a particularly popular shoe at the time. This is in stark contrast to how it is seen today and the appreciation for this shoe has really built up over the years with pairs now selling for up to $1000.
“Ortiz and his crew were given 6 months by Nike to come up with the design and it wasn’t until 3 days before submission that his hankering for a Bacon and Egg sandwich saw the birth of this iconic shoe.”
There was a heavy influence of street art/wear and skate around 2004 and Nike recognised this through collabs with Stash, Futura, Stussy and there was also significant retail stores in NYC such as Recon, Nort, Supreme and Bape to name a few.
I was lucky enough to visit DQM twice before it closed. I purchased a pair of the Dunk Hi which released in 2008, something I just grabbed off the shelf in the store. Whilst not all hype releases of the time sat on shelves, it was certainly a different culture back then.
The Pigeon release of 2005 was the exception, where NYPD had to arrive in large numbers and escort those that were lucky enough to buy the shoe out the back door as there were gang members with Machetes ready to confront them! However, a normal release of a hype shoe at this time would be perhaps 20-30 in a queue and nobody would be turning up the night before, or if they did it was very rare.
Whilst there have been changes in the scene, the technology and what sneakers mean to people has grown considerably. The return of the Bacons and the excitement around them is a true testament to that. This is the first re-release (that I can remember) of a shoe where the collaborating store no longer exists. That’s pretty huge to think that the legacy of the shoe outweighs the legacy of the business, but also shows how times have changed from concept stores to online raffles.
Seeing this shoe re-release brings back a lot of nostalgia for a city I love, a store I visited and a shoe that I really sought after and didn’t end up owning until 15 years later! It also brings to life an era to a new generation. The history of the DQM Bacon is a lesson in an extremely influential period of sneaker culture. The mid 2000s saw the birth of the SB, the power of collabs and the start of the resell game. Without that era, would we still see the huge scale that this scene has reached in 2021? I would argue not.