Ahh ye olde Nike swoosh. It seems that at everyone I run into these days these days either still is, used to be, or is in the process of ending their “sneaker-head” phase. The vast majority of you need no definition for that phrase, you know exactly what it means to know the release date of every upcoming Dunk, to refresh Nike Talk hourly to see Nike or Bapes newest offering, or to stand freezing cold in front of your local sneaker store (blends) or FootLocker alongside a few other dedicated individuals to grab your size 10.5 Air Jordan before the mobs enter the store hours later. Sneaker collecting and obsessing, what exactly happened to this massive and inescapable trend? Well, let’s figure it out.
I, like some of you, was a certified beast and follower of the trend during its prime. I started slowly mostly around Air Force Ones and quickly skipped from there over to the Vintage Nike and Dunk side of things. I was a frequent poster on at least three separate sneaker forums at a time and slowly began to craft the “internet persona” that has largely and eventually evolved into the situations I now find myself in. I have never had a true job in my life. I have never had the experience of a boss, or daily hours, so I took all sorts of other routes to satisfy my sneaker urge. Sold some Video Games, Sold Candy, Got a job at Hollister of all places, it was all undergone in an attempt to amass the most rubber soled pieces of goodness I could get my hands on. I was fully enraptured in the worlds of swooshes, three stripes, Vans, and Pumps and suddenly it all came to a halting stop.
At some point along the line I completely lost the fire. Sneakers could not hold my interest and before long I was no longer frequenting any of the old sneaker haunts. Release dates, new Jordan drops, I was completely ignorant, it was right around this time that I began to focus on clothing. To some extent, it was surely the clothing that pulled my attention away. At that point I was focused on purchasing 80 dollar Bathing Ape t-shirts instead of 200 limited edition Nikes. At the same time though, something a little deeper was taking place and I feel like I began to make a realization about the obsession I had invested so much time into.
I feel that sneaker culture has been more or less ruthlessly exploited by corporations and big names that have abused what was once an original movement. As with many subcultures, once a corporate CEO realizes that they can manipulate and twist what was once an original institution in order to generate extra funds the life is slowly but surely sucked out of the practice, in this case sneakers. When Nike, Reebok, and Adidas began to realize the following they have developed and focus on making releases specifically for the “sneaker-head” audience, the essential cool that once set the genre apart began to crumble.
When it began to feel like I was being sold sneakers rather than hunting to find a rare pair merely issued by a big name, it immediately lost the appeal it once had. I got into sneaker collection aspect of the culture not only because I always had a massive love for the design and aesthetic, but because it was something underground, something not everyone did. I could spot another sneaker head a mile off and I would know he recognized my inclusion in the same subculture but no words were needed. Every was a participant in a long practiced trade of collection and appreciation without the direction of corporate overhead. Once the big names realized how they could expand their profit margin, the genre went to hell and back again. Poor releases that were somehow supposed to appeal to the sneaker collector’s whim, and in general a lack of realization that they’re not being involved was essential to the appeal of their shoes.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still an ardent lover of a vintage Nike or Jordan silhouette. I still will purchase a great pair of shoes when the opportunity arises. But you will never find me organizing them by box, or cleaning them with a toothbrush these days. Not this year, and not for the past years have I devoted any major amount of time into acquiring a specific pair. I still have love for those who collect and obsess but I really cannot partake in the madness any longer. With that being said, if anyone ever see’s a pair of OG Bred Jordan 1’s size 10.5 on eBay…all notions aside I will revert to every puddle hopping, tooth brush cleaning, blog obsessing sneakerhead tendency I just condemned in order to purchase them.