The main thing to remember about Round Two founder Sean Wotherspoon is this: The man is a collector first. Maybe not even a collector, because that implies someone who simply hoards stuff, content to own it and greedy for more. Archivist is wrong, too, because while Wotherspoon's vintage Nike stash rivals the company's own DNA archive (and, in some places, fills in their gaps), he acquires this stuff mostly because he wants to wear it, not just own it. Hence why he'd un-deadstock a pair of Paris Dunk SBs (a five-figure shoe all day long) or skate in a pair of original 1985 Air Jordans.
His opening the first Round Two location in 2013 in Richmond, Virginia, was more an inevitability than simply a way to capitalize on the popularity of vintage clothing and limited-edition sneakers. To borrow a turn of phrase from Batman villain Bane, you merely adopted vintage; Wotherspoon was born in it, molded by it. Wotherspoon was just 23 when he and his two partners, Chris Russow and Luke Fracher, opened Round Two. But he was a veteran all the same.
Raised in Ashburn, Virginia, (as was Russow), Wotherspoon was an hour from Washington, D.C., and two hours from both Baltimore and Richmond. According to Fracher, the idea for Round Two came in part from a vintage store in Richmond called Rumors Boutique. The thought was to do a male-centered version of what Rumors did with women's vintage. Sneakers came later. Buying items for cash rather than consigning made it easier for sellers to get their money and made it possible for Round Two to charge less than similar shops. Business quickly took off.
But Wotherspoon was a Nikehead from the start. And though he's still only 28, his appreciation for classic models extends well past ones he would have worn or seen in stores growing up. His Instagram features a wide range of models—Prestos seem to be a favorite, as do Air Maxes from the mid- to late-'90s. But he seems to have a special place in his heart for original Air Jordans and the matching blue-tag apparel, products of a Nike that wasn't nearly the corporate juggernaut it is today.
He still starts his days digging for vintage, now at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Flea Market rather than Goodwill and Salvation Army in Virginia.
Round Two, which has since expanded to Los Angeles and New York—with a Miami location on the way—was just the beginning. In 2017, Wotherspoon's Air Max 1/97 hybrid design beat out all comers in a Nike-sanctioned Vote Forward Air Max Day contest and was released this year to much acclaim, including immediate sellouts.
The shoe itself, a hybrid with an Air Max 1 sole and Air Max 97 upper, was made from raw-edged corduroy in soft pastel colors, with the intent that it would fray as it was worn. And despite the "COLLECTOR'S DREAM" wording on the Nike SNKRS drop, these were indeed made to be worn. And made to be personalized by the owner, with four sets of laces and a variety of patches to be swapped out on the tongue. Plenty of pairs have been sold through Round Two, but relax—all of the pairs were either purchased by Wotherspoon himself or by sellers. He's since followed it up with a Guess "Farmer's Market" collaboration sold at a pop-up in L.A., where he's now based.
Since the beginning, Wotherspoon has defined his personal aesthetic through his collection by picking up vintage pieces that spoke to him. Now, through his stores and collaborations, he's able to share it with the rest of us.
Russ Bengtson is a freelance writer based in NYC. He was previously a senior editor at Complex. Follow him on Twitter @russbengtson.
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