Sneaker YouTube is a space filled with competition, specifically when it comes to reviewing basketball performance shoes. From rookies to vets, it seems as if, with each new shoe released, there is a new voice giving their opinion on how the shoe performs. So how does one stand out and become the go-to for kicking knowledge on each new shoe drop?
We recently caught up with the man behind one of, if not the best sneaker review channels on YouTube for our latest installment of I Did It My Way. Chris Chase, better known as Nightwing2303 on YouTube, has been reviewing shoes for the last nine years, dissecting the most coveted on court and off court models. A true OG of Sneaker YouTube, it was only right that we got the scoop on his passion for creativity and what the future holds for WearTesters.
coiski: Growing up, were you always creative or was that something that came as you got older?
Chris: Yes, I was always creative and had an imagination growing up. I had a love for drawing, which is kind of interesting because what I do now has nothing to do with that. The creativity side is still there and I’ve used some of that original passion in the videos I’ve made.
coiski: So you’ve been on YouTube now for nine years – what was the catalyst or motivator for you to start making videos?
Chris: The creativity part was always there but in different ways. For what I do now, you have to see things almost in like a certain way to be able to execute it so that takes a special skill, which is something I don’t think I am that good at. But the initial spark was just that I was getting back into playing basketball, so I needed some new shoes. There was no performance reviews, and I was following Kixology at the time, and after he started doing work with Nike, he shut down his review site. So there was kind of like a void there, and I felt like I knew enough about footwear to kind of do my own thing. That’s where it all started. I just saw something that wasn’t there at the time and decided to do it myself.
coiski: Was there a point in time – or a video – in which the traction started getting bigger?
Chris: It wasn’t a specific video, but it was about 4-5 months after I started making them. I got hit with that YouTube Partnership. Back in the day, you had to apply for it, or they offered it. The past few years, though, it has seemed like anyone can get it. When I got the email that said they accepted me as a partner, that’s when it hit like, ‘Oh, this could be something.’ I didn’t realize how little you actually make because I hadn’t made anything yet. So things are definitely different now, especially from an earning standpoint. It was really weird because I said to myself when the YouTube partnership that in 5 years I wanted this to replace my full-time job income, and with a lot of hard work, I was able to accomplish that goal, which was pretty cool.
coiski: What has been your most successful video to date?
Chris: I guess that depends on the point of view. My most viewed video is a review on a pair of Air Max 90s that I picked up at an outlet. The reason why it is my most viewed is because I also showed you how to lace my shoes, which, apparently, is a really popular topic. That has over a million views on it, and it’s for the dumbest thing. I would always show what shoes looked like on feet and people would get hype about that, and I was like really? If you were to ask what I feel is one of my best videos, I really like all of my work because you can see from year to year the growth in creativity and editing. I think one video that shows that is my Air Jordan 11 Performance Review. At the beginning of that, I did a joke to the I Believe I Can Fly song. It was kind of like an Air Jordan Ad, and I went for the dunk (I can’t dunk). I made it look like I was going to dunk, but then I immediately hit the floor. That was the one where I really started to be cognizant of what was going on.
coiski: With Sneaker YouTube exploding in the past few years, what do you think has kept you so prominent in that space from a creative standpoint?
Chris: I don’t know. I don’t find myself to be that, and I always feel like I am striving to be that. So I think it’s funny when I hear kids say, ‘Oh, I like your review on this’ or ‘that review helped me out to grab this.’ Or they’ll be like, ‘It helped with my job at Foot Locker, and it really helped me know about the products better.’ That kind of stuff is pretty surreal. In the back of my mind, I do know that the WearTesters brand is like that #1 source online for performance reviews, but at the same time in the YouTube landscape, I feel like there is so much competition out there that I’ll never say that I am the best, Even though I feel that I am the best.