The title of the article does not intend to suggest that sneaker heads are the downfall of the sneaker culture, because there would not be a sneaker culture without sneaker heads.
They are the ones who spend countless hours scouring the web and sneaker boutiques for rare kicks. They spend enormous amount of time organizing their collection. The real question is not “why” but “how”.
How are sneaker heads ruining the sneaker culture?
My father was a sneaker head when Jordans only came in one or two colors. Sometimes he would tell me stories about how he purchased shoes in Chinatown in New York and bargained for a lower price (whether those shoes were real or fake is another story). Collecting sneakers back in the day was simple, you bought what you like and you did not have to rush to buy.
Collecting sneakers was not such a popular past time back in the days as it is now. Sneaker collecting has transition from a hobby to a need to brag and further stand out from the crowd.
The sneaker culture has now been divided between the “haves” and the “have nots”.
This divide within the sneaker community also helped to give rise to Hypebeasts. Everyone who collects sneakers is considered a Hypebeast, but there are extreme Hypebeasts whose only purpose is to brag and let you know that “I have it and you don’t”.
In the case of celebrity Hypebeast it is more like “I have it first, and you have to wait”.
Hypebeasts have slowly taken away the love out of collecting shoes, and made it a sport. There is no more trying on before you buy. With the Yeezy 750 Boost (or any Yeezy’s for that matter), the hype was real and the Adidas website was swarmed with traffic. Later that afternoon, everyone who managed to purchase a pair, let it be known throughout social media.
Instagram and Twitter was flooded with pictures of confirmation pages and on feet photos of the new Yeezys. The reason why I gave an example using the Yeezy is because months before when the model was leaked with Kanye holding them in hand on a plane, many sneaker heads called them ugly or “fake Uggs”. But due to the hype, many people gave in and rejected their original opinions for the sake of having a pair of Yeezys just to say “I have a pair of Yeezys”.
This, my friend, is the definition of a Hypebeast. The ultimate reason why Hypebeast are looked down upon is because they are the lifeline for vultures called, resellers.
Resellers feed off the divide within the Sneaker Culture
The sudden popularity for sneaker collecting and how it has become so mainstream also brought about resellers. Resellers are not considered sneaker heads, but their actions are detrimental to the sneaker culture. Resellers feed off the divide within the sneaker culture.
They purchase multiple pairs of a shoe in various sizes, and then sell it to those that missed out for double or sometimes triple the price. There are also those that offer pre-orders on highly sought after sneaker releases. The Jordan 1s “OG Chicago Hi” just released recently for $150 – $160, due to the high demand for these shoes most likely resellers purchase multiple sizes.
If you were to visit eBay right now, you would probably see the prices around $300. Resellers fuel the hype for sneaker releases, and make sure that you have to go through them in order to cop the shoes that you so desperately want.
Going back to the case of the Yeezys, Sole Collector released an article that collected data from eBay that showed the resell value of all the Yeezys that ever released. The prices ranged from $1000 – $5000, for shoes that were originally released for $245 – $350 (a steep price already). No matter how much you love the Yeezy 2 “Red October” it is not worth the equivalent to a down payment on a house.
There has to be a point where sneaker heads say “enough”.
There will always be hype for sneaker releases. I have never camped out for a pair shoes (and never will). I enjoy waking up on Saturday, walking into the mall, and just hanging out at Footlocker trying on shoes. I enjoy rocking my shoes. I enjoy playing basketball in them. I enjoy buying sneakers for my little brother, because I want this to be a hobby that we share.
Sneakers should be an expression of yourself, not the amount of money you have in your pockets. For others, sneakers are seen as an accessory to their outfit.
For sneaker heads, their outfit is seen as an accessory to their sneakers. We build our outfit around our sneakers.
The sneaker culture will not die, but we must not let it become ruined.
Buy what you like and don’t give into the hype.