The Sneakerhead Culture
High-end designer pumps to some of us are like special edition kicks to sneakerhead’s: an addiction for the love of shoes. Imagine storage closets, rooms or even basements filled with a massive collection of Nikes, Jordans, Adidas, Converse, and et.al. Sneakers with original boxes reign supreme. These are not your average, every day sneakers that you wear running around the block or to the gym with your sweats. These have to match a cutting-edge outfit from head to toe, color for color, and kept in pristine condition.
You’ve seen them at weddings worn by the bridal party and red carpet events worn by famous high profile sneakerheads like Spike Lee, Pharrell and Fat Joe. Or even in bridal Trash The Dress photo shoots, as shown here with my extremely rare 1988 Vintage Nike sneakers. Maybe you have seen women wear them to create a contrasting, fashion-forward look with their dress. Who could forget the episode of Entourage with Turtle and DJ AM fighting for the last pair of Fukijamas. This is the sneakerhead culture of today.
The game started with Adidas and Nike running the show. Spike Lee Mars Blackmon in an iconic moment of the Nike Swoosh, during his film She’s Gotta Have It in 1986. Bob Marley with his famous Adidas shot in the woods in 1976. The Run DMC group rapped their way to an endorsement deal with the song My Adidas in 1986 and eventually into their own footwear line too. Marty McFly rocked the Nike Air Mag during Back to the Future: Part II in 1989, which was finally created and released in 2011. Highest charity auction ended at $37,500; with all proceeds donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
In the more recent years, the sneakerhead scene went viral. Causing mass hysteria from the casual collector to the extreme collector with 500 pairs and counting. Just ten years ago, you could walk into a mom and pop shop or Niketown store, buy a few pairs and be home within hours. Now, serious fanatics camp out on the sidewalks and streets [literally with tents] for two to three days before a release, just to get one or two pairs, depending on the limit. Remember the Michael Jordan’s “Air Jordan” collection around the holidays? Mad frenzy getting online and in stores to score a pair!
Artist collaborations release every few months, some made up to only 100 to 1000 pairs. Shoes are embellished with vibrant colors, variety of material, artwork, and maybe an embroidered symbol on the outer rear side. Sneaker companies collaborated with designer companies: Nike Air for Cole Haan, John Varvatos for Converse, Adidas Y-3 x MOMO and Alexander McQueen for Puma. The Air Jordan brand released retroed versions of Michael Jordan’s original line and, like always, sold out within hours. This left thousands of his fans disappointed and turning to other sources to obtain a pair [or five]. Scouring eBay for the lowest prices, Facebook or NikeTalk friends for extra pairs, going to the nearest Flight Club… The hunt begins.
A limited edition shoe value can range anywhere from $200 to $20,000. The main rule of thumb: Buy two or more, rock one and keep the rest brand new, dead stock. Maybe even save just one for a special occasion. Like art and real estate, the value increases throughout the years, so keeping your 1985 Michael Jordan I Originals, brand new in box, can buy you a new car in 2012. On the other hand, there are people willing to sell their own cars for a few pairs of Galaxy Foamposites. Stark collectors will give anything for their latest holy grail.
The sneakerhead culture has rapidly evolved over the decades, but one thing goes unchanged, collectors will remain dedicated to the game. So next time you buy a niche-like sneaker or find one deep in your closet, research before wearing it to the park. You may be able to trade them for a coveted Christian Louboutin in a few years.
Notably famous releases:
- Nike Air Force II Low: Espo Signed Artist Series (2004). Retail value: $150 | Resell value: $950
- Air Jordan XI & VI Retro: Defining Moments Pack (2006). Retail value: $590 | Resell value: $1,400
- Nike Dunk High: Wu-Tang Clan (1999). Retail value: N/A | Resell value: $5,000
- Nike Dunk Low Pro SB: Supreme/Black Cement (2002). Retail value: $150 | Resell value: $1,000
- All dead stock in a sneakerhead’s home: NOT FOR SALE
An exclusive by Heather Lascano, first published in the July-Sept 2012 edition of Shoeholics magazine. All rights reserved