Jordan, Nike, Adidas, Yeezy are all big shoe brands society is obsessed with. You would be considered very lucky if you own a pair of OG Jordan 1s High. But why is society so fascinated by sneakers?
Sneakers are a status symbol for most people according to “The Rise of Sneakerhead Culture” by Michael Lishnevsky. Sneakers are very popular among Millenials and Gen Z culture. Usually, if you have some rare sneakers you might be considered a Sneakerhead. Sneakerheads are people who collect shoes, sometimes sell them and have almost an obsession with sneakers. Before we dive into the culture of kicks, we have to learn about the history of sneaker culture.
Sneaker culture began to surface in the 1970s when people wanted a demand for athletic shoes. The 80s was a major turnaround for the sneaker game because of one man, a basketball legend, Michael Jordan. In 1984, Nike was struggling to sell shoes. Nike had the timeless Air Force 1, however the basketball scene was still stuck on Converse. Michael Jordan just began his NBA career in ‘84 and had a decision to make. Michael Jordan wanted Adidas but Nike wanted Michael Jordan. As history would have it, we know how that story ends. The Air Jordan 1 was the game-changer in basketball and street fashion. In 1985, a year after the debut, the Jordan 1 would retail at $64.99. Now in 2020, the retail price is $160.
Sneakerheads can be a business’ dream or worst nightmare. A nightmare because resellers buy shoes in bulk at retail price and sell them for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The same sneaker that was sold for $65 in 1985 is now being sold on resell websites like GOAT.com and StockX.com for 10 times that price.
According to Leigh Steinberg of Forbes, the sneaker market is expected to be worth about “$95.14 billion by 2025.” Resell websites are a major contributor to the sneaker market. Popular culture is another large influence. In 2015, Rapper Eminem did a collaboration with Jordan to make his own shoe. There were only ten of these shoes made in the world. The Eminem X Carhartt X Jordan 4 is listed as high as $45,000. It is unbelievable that people would pay so much money for a pair of shoes. Yet, that is just how the shoe game works. Many athletes, rappers and celebrities have collaborated with sneaker brands such as Travis Scott, Pharrell, Cardi B and Tyler the Creator.
So how do people get access to such rare sneakers? The answer is sneaker dealers. One of the most famous sneaker dealers is 21-year-old Benjamin Kickz. Benjamin had always loved sneakers and he started selling them at the age of 15. He sells to world-renowned celebrities like DJ Khaled, who was the first celebrity to buy shoes from him.
Sneakers are something that is relevant in Black culture. We can see this from Will Smith rocking different types of Jordans on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to documentaries about the growing number of shoe fanatics called sneakerheads. Sneakers are a way for people to express themselves. Sneakers can also be a way to connect people all around the world regardless of race. Because let’s face it, cool sneakers are attention grabbers and sometimes even conversation starters.