Sneaker collecting

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Sneaker collecting is the acquisition and trading of sneakers as a hobby. It is often manifested by the use and collection of shoes made for particular sports, particularly basketball and skateboarding. A person involved in sneaker collecting is sometimes called a sneakerhead.

The birth of sneaker collecting, subsequently creating the sneakerhead culture in the United States came in the 1980s and can be attributed to two major sources: basketball, specifically the emergence of Michael Jordan and his eponymous Air Jordan line of shoes released in 1985, and the growth of hip hop music. The boom of signature basketball shoes during this era provided the sheer variety necessary for a collecting subculture, while the hip-hop movement gave the sneakers their street credibility as status symbols.[1] The sneakerhead culture has emerged in the United Kingdom [2] and the Czech Republic during the early 2010s.[3]

Styles and marketing[edit]

Store display of new release Nike sneakers.

Several popular brands and styles of sneakers have emerged as collectors items in the sneakerhead subculture. Popular collections include Air Jordans, Air Force Ones, Nike Dunks, Nike Skateboarding (SB), Nike Foamposites, Nike Air Max, and more recently, the Nike Air Yeezy and Adidas Yeezy. Shoes that have the most value are usually exclusive or limited editions. Also certain color schemes may be rarer relative to others in the same sneaker, inflating desirability and value. More recently, sneaker customs, or one-of-a-kind sneakers that have been hand-painted, have become popular as well.

Nike, New Balance, and Reebok also have custom shops where people can choose from the color, lettering, and materials that they want. Adidas discontinued their custom shop in February 2019.

Nike continues to use basketball stars to market new sneakers. In 2011, the Zoom Hyperdunk was introduced through Blake Griffin (a Los Angeles Clippers player and NBA 2010–11 NBA Rookie of the Year). Nike has also employed celebrities from outside of the sports world to design and market new shoe lines. One example is the Nike Air Yeezy, designed by rapper Kanye West and released in 2009, as well as the Nike Air Yeezy II, released in 2012.[4]

Skateboarding, since about 2005, has been a major player in the shoe collecting industry especially with the variety introduced with the Nike SB and Supra product lines. Jordan brands most popular models include the Jordan 1, 3, 4, 11, and 13.

Sneakerhead subculture[edit]

The sneakerhead subculture originated in the United States during the late 1980s and had gone global by the end of the 1990s. Hardcore sneaker collectors in Britain, Europe,[5] and the US[6] buy online and go to outlets, sneaker events, swapmeets, parties, and gatherings in search of rare, deadstock, vintage, and limited edition shoes to invest in.[7] Originally popular among urban black youth and white skateboarders, by the 21st century, it had also gained a sizeable Asian following especially in the Philippines, Malaysia,[8] India, and China.[9]

Sneakerheads collect sneakers from many different brands depending on their preference. Popular brands for sneakerheads are Nike, Air Jordan, Adidas, Converse, New Balance, Puma, Vans, Reebok and many others.[10] Nike (including the company's Air Jordan brand) and Adidas are generally the most popular brands targeted by collectors. In Complex's "Best Sneakers of 2019"[11] list, eight of the top ten sneakers of 2019 were from Nike, with three of those from the company's Air Jordan brand. The final two spots went to Adidas and New Balance with one entry each. Popular fashion trends in sneaker culture usually overlap with Streetwear[12] trends and styles.

As of 2016, the most desirable[13] colors for sneakers and apparel were black,[14] red,[15] and white[16] due to their longstanding association with late 1980s new wave music, the Michael Jordan era of basketball,[17] and old-school hip hop.[18]

Sneakerhead slang[edit]

A pair of grey "tonal" Nike low top sneakers

During the 2010s, teenage sneakerheads influenced by hip hop fashion and skater subculture began to develop their own jargon. Commonly used words include:[19]

  • "A.C.G" – All Conditions Gear, a brand of sneakers produced by Nike[19]
  • "ADC" – Adidas dot com[19]
  • "Beaters" – Sneakers worn despite creases, scuffs, stains, and smell[19]
  • "Bred" – Black and red sneakers[19]
  • "B Grade" – Shop-worn seconds sold at a discount[20]
  • "Chucks" - Converse All-Stars
  • "Coke whites" – Pristine white sneakers[19]
  • "Crispy" – Clean[19]
  • "Colorway" – The combination of colors or symbols on a pair of sneakers
  • "Cop" (used as a verb) – To purchase or acquire
  • "Cozy boy" – Fashionable but also comfortable[19]
  • "Deadstock" – A pair of sneakers that has never been worn[19]
  • "Deubre”– Also called lace tags are popular on shoes like Air Force Ones
  • "Dope" – Fashionable
  • "Double up" – Buying two identical pairs of sneakers[19]
  • "Drop" – Release of a new sneaker[21]
  • "Feezy" – Fake Yeezys
  • "Fire" – Very good[19]
  • "Flop" – Poorly sold
  • "Fresh" – New and cool[19]
  • "Fugazi" – Fake
  • "Goat" – Greatest of all time[19]
  • "Garms" – Clothes[19]
  • "Grail" – Very rare sneakers, as in Holy Grail
  • "GR" – General release, or common
  • "Gum sole" – Sneakers with solid rubber soles[19]
  • "Gutties" – Scottish Slang term for trainers/ sneakers.
  • "Heat" – Rare sneakers that draw looks
  • "Hypebeast" – Trendies who only buy the latest release. Hypebeasts buy whatever the celebrities are wearing and tend to copy people like hip-hop artist Kanye West. By 2020, hypebeast became a derogatory term in the UK for a hipster whose style had begun branching out into designer streetwear.[22]
  • "High Top(s)" – A shoe that rises above or on the ankle mainly used for ankle support during sports.[19]
  • "J's" – Another name for Jordan brand shoes
  • "JB" – The Jordan Brand logo (see below)[19]
  • "Jumpman" – Basketball player Michael Jordan, also can refer to the Jordan logo depicting Michael often seen on the shoes.[19]
  • "Ice" – Sneakers with transparent soles
  • "Instacop" – Impulse buying[19]
  • "Kicks" – Shoes
  • "L" – Loss/unable to purchase
  • "Lit up" – Great[19]
  • "Lows" – Also called low tops are shoes that sit below the ankle [19]
  • "Nib" – Unworn, new in the box
  • "OG" – Original, derived from the term "original gangster"
  • "Quickstrikes" – Limited edition sneakers and prototypes with a regional early release, especially Nikes,[23] and are highly desirable[24] status symbols for American sneaker collectors.[25]
  • "Reseller" – A person who buys large quantities of unworn popular sneakers to sell at a profit[26]
  • "Red October" – Very rare red sneakers by Nike and rapper Kanye West[19]
  • "Silhouette" - Design of a sneaker
  • "Sitting" – Referring to sneakers produced in large quantities that go unsold
  • "Slept On" – Unappreciated by the wider community
  • "Steezy" – Stylish[19]
  • "Tackies" - South African teenage slang for sneakers
  • "Threads" - Clothes
  • "Tonal" – Sneakers in a single color, as in monotone.[19]
  • "Unauthorised" – counterfeit[27]
  • "VNDS" – Very Near Deadstock, sneakers worn briefly or only to try on[19]
  • "W" – Win/successful purchase
  • "Wild" – Amazing[19]
  • "Yeezy" – Sneakers designed by rapper Kanye West[28]

Industry growth[edit]

The sneaker market has begun to manifest itself in different venues. The growth of online retailing and auction sites has provided sneaker collectors with new methods to find the rarest shoes. Sneakers retailers have begun to adopt creative means to release these rare sneakers. Some retailers have implemented a raffle system where the winners are chosen at random while others have implemented a first come, first served model. The SNKRS app was launched in 2015, by the Oregon-based retailer also known as Nike, to give more access to the latest sneaker drops in addition to increasing the consumer audience.This app implements the raffle system and the first come, first served model depending on the expected hype or participation in gaining certain limited produced shoes. The most heavy sought-out sneakers are usually done through raffles to give everyone a fair chance.[29] These methods of buying the shoes have allowed all consumers to have a fair chance at buying the shoe. Jordan Geller opened the Shoezeum in San Diego, a 9,000-square-foot (840 m2) gallery of collector sneakers.[30][31] Foot Locker launched, a wiki based online community for shoe collectors.[32]

Due to the popularity of these rare sneakers and streetwear culture, the emergence of a large scale counterfeit market has risen to meet the demand for these highly sought after sneakers. However, in response to the large counterfeit challenges, new companies have taken off.[33] The shoe reselling market is currently dominated by StockX and GOAT. Sneakers have the highest resale outreach among retail consumer goods, there aren’t many aftermarket apps that contain as much of a following as ones like StockX or GOAT for any other goods. The resale market has surpassed a billion dollars in the span of a year. The sneaker head community hates the resale community especially for the ones just trying to get a pair of shoes they like and not wanting to have spend an insanely high markup price depending on the sneaker.[34] Apps like SNKRS were made to give a fair chance but in the recent years, that has not been the case.The first come, first served model has some flaws as bots, proxies and other servers have made it nearly impossible to get a pair of shoes before your size is sold out. This is what makes aftermarket apps like StockX and GOAT so famous. Sneakers are resold for 1-2x the price on average after buying out the few sites that sell your sizes. Supply and demand comes Into play because by the following week , consumers want to have the latest shoes on their feet which will cause them to purchase aftermarket prices.[35] These sites provide a trusted platform where buyers can buy shoes from sneaker resellers. The model works when the sellers send purchased items to StockX or GOAT facilities for inspection and verification, then authenticated products are shipped to buyers.[36] StockX allows you to watch and track the prices of shoes resale value in real time. It is a good place to start deciding which shoes are worth your money or time with their stock market functionality.[37] Additionally, sneakers bought from StockX arrive with a QR coded tag on the shoe guarantee the authenticity of the shoe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skidmore, Sarah (15 January 2007). "Sneakerheads love to show off shoes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-19. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "United Kingdom 'sneakerheads' the rise of streetwear and beeing an Sneakerhead in the Uk". Urbanworld Streetwear. Retrieved 5 January 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Czech 'sneakerheads' flaunt their best trainers". Czech Position. Archived from the original on 20 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Kim, John. "Nike Air Yeezy 2 – Officially Unveiled". Retrieved 1 May 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Charles, James (January 24, 2015). "Sellers pay the price as eBay fails to deliver on its promises" – via
  6. ^ "Finance & Footwear: Investing In Sneakers Could Pay Off Big In The End". May 5, 2016.
  7. ^ Taylor, Ian. "The Best Sneakers To Invest In: Converse Chuck Taylor". AskMen.
  8. ^ "Malaysian sneakerheads". Archived from the original on 2016-05-08. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  9. ^ "Nike fan buys his first flat by pawning collection of 283 pairs of Air Jordan trainers".
  10. ^ "The Best Sneaker Brands In The World Right Now". FashionBeans. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  11. ^ "The Best Sneakers of 2019". Complex. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Why a Sneakerhead Destroyed His Rare Air Jordans". Washington City Paper.
  14. ^ Chandran, Nyshka (September 28, 2016). "Why sneakers such as Yeezys are a solid investment: StockX".
  15. ^ "New Exhibit Laces Together Sneakers And History".
  16. ^ "A Sneakerhead Turned His "Laser" 1s Into fragments and Breds". Complex.
  17. ^ "Jordan low bred". Archived from the original on 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  18. ^ Kurie, Brendan. "Sole sensation: High-end sneaker culture thrives in New Bedford".
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Your Definitive Guide to Sneaker Slang". Coveteur. April 18, 2017.
  20. ^ Sneaker glossary
  21. ^ "Grundbegriffe des Resellings • Sneaker-Reseller". September 11, 2018.
  22. ^ Hipster hypebeast
  23. ^ Nast, Condé. "Five Easy Steps to Re-Selling Your Sneakers on the Internet". GQ.
  24. ^ "Here's Our Favorite Sneakers Worn at Nike's Air Max Con in New York". Highsnobiety. March 25, 2016.
  25. ^ "VladTV // Sneakers".
  26. ^ "Reselling Sneakers Might Be a Better Investment Than Buying Stock in Apple". Complex.
  27. ^ Chesler, Josh (July 22, 2015). "10 Sneaker Terms You Need to Know When Getting Into Kicks". Phoenix New Times.
  28. ^ Sneaker guide
  29. ^ "Just Did It: My long road to redemption on Nike's SNKRS app". For The Win. 2020-02-12. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  30. ^ "Sneakerhead's 2,000 Nikes make a ShoeZeum". Matthew T. Hall, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 April 2011. Accessed 10 August 2017
  31. ^ "Nike collector creates his ShoeZeum". Doug Williams, ESPN, 13 June 2011. Accessed 10 August 2017
  32. ^ Sigel, Tago. "Sneaking Into The Big Apple". RWD Magazine. Archived from the original on 21 June 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  33. ^ "GOAT raises $25M more to expand its mobile sneaker marketplace".
  34. ^ "Nike Will Probably Never Eliminate Resellers, and Here's Why". Complex. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  35. ^ "The StockX Buyer's Guide to Resale". StockX News. 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  36. ^ Griffith, Erin (2019-06-26). "Buy Low-Tops, Sell High-Tops: StockX Sneaker Exchange Is Worth $1 Billion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  37. ^ "How To Make A Fortune Selling Sneakers". FashionBeans. Retrieved 2020-08-21.

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