Sneaker Heads: A cultural phenomenon rising in popularity

Shoe obsessive population growing year by year

Nathan Montoya, Editor of News

Sneaker collecting is a hobby often used by people to acquire shoes either for how rare they are, their resale value, or what they could mean to that individual, or to the whole community. The origin of sneaker collecting, which was subsequently responsible for creating the sneakerhead culture in the United States came in the 1980s, and can be traced back to two major sources; basketball (specifically the Air Jordan shoe line) and the rising popularity of hip hop music. The wave of signature basketball shoes during this time was able to provide the variety necessary for the subculture to begin its first steps, and the hip-hop songs at this time helped give the sneaker their credibility as status symbols. 

In current times, the sneakerhead culture has become fully globalized with help of some other shoe brands such as Kanye West’s Yeezy line of sneakers, which are relatively expensive but work as status symbols. Other brands such as Air Force Ones, Nike Dunks, Nike Skateboarding (or Nike SB), etc. have certain shoes within their lines that have become collector’s items, sought after by only the most dedicated of sneakerheads who are willing to go to the lengths and spend the money to acquire said shoes. Even now, Nike has continued to use basketball stars to market brand-new sneakers. One good example is back in 2011 when the Zoom Hyperdunk shoe was introduced through Blake Griffin, an LA Clippers player and the NBA Rookie of the year for 2010-2011. Another way that sneakers have become such a cultural phenomenon is through skateboarding, with shoes like the Vans, Nike SB, or Supra product lines playing a part as early as 2005.

However, there are also times when a shoe is purchased not for a collection, or to be worn, but to be resold for a profit. Some shoes having a low stock but incredibly high demand has led some people to not only sell at these often outrageous prices but also purchase them. Apps like StockX or GOAT have helped elevate the reselling market, making it more mainstream, while other apps like SNKRS help everyone get a fair chance at purchasing a shoe, with shoe “drops” happening at certain dates and times. These “drops” work by having a specific shoe release with a couple of days’ notice, then on the date of the “drop” are then able to be purchased during a limited window of time. After this window closes, the people who receive the shoes are chosen at random, and those who, unluckily enough, did not get charged, but were notified that they were not picked.

The sneakerhead culture has grown massively since the 1980s when it was seen as more of a hobby, is now a lifestyle for some, collecting shoes long sought after, or making a profit reselling.