Sneakerhead in Popular Culture

Tony Pham

UNST 254

Professor Bergland

Popular Culture: Mirror Essay

            Before 1985, shoes of any style for any gender had no buzz around them. There was no spotlight or flare in a conversation about shoes between people. It was made simply for cushioning the bottom of the human’s feet. That was how it is, until when Michael Jordan signed an endorsement deal with Nike. Though it wasn’t just any endorsement, because Jordan was able to get a percentage of the revenue deal thanks to his agent, David Falk. From there, Jordan not only led his team to multiple championships, but he made the shoes he wore mainstream. Thanks to Jordan, he made approximately 130 million dollars for Nike within a year, which Nike only expected three million out of him. Jordan shoe line grew and so did people’s interest for his shoes. The shoe line would be expected to come to an end when his career is over but that is definitely not the case. A tag price of what used to be 65 dollars now range above one hundred and fifty. People would riot to get their pair in a shoe retailer store. The lust and craving to own Jordan shoes and other rising star with endorsement deals became a hobby that leads to the term sneakerhead. Shoes became so mainstream and popular because of the famous people who wore them. The demand for shoes not only made the original pricing went up but the reselling value of it too. Fans and collector bought shoes that they love, but because of popularity and fashion, it has lure others’ interest in buying shoes to resell for profit which should not be considered as sneakerheads.

People that followed hip hop and famous athletes like Jordan have noticed the shoes that are being worn by them. Their love and interest as fans selected each as part of a representation of whom they want to be like. Air Force One, a pair of shoe worn commonly by a rap artist named, “Fat Joe.” Made the shoes popular. Not only did rappers wear them but also in basketball players. “A really classic style that has to do with whether or not you play basketball.” (Life of a Sneakerhead) The style when made popular and trending had people positively commenting others that wore them. Some shoes that were not too popular at first but then when worn by a celebrity, people started wanting to buy a pair. Dj Skee, a huge sneakerhead himself, owns hundreds of pairs that he loves very much. When interviewed by George Kiel, DJ Skee mentioned multiple times that the shoes he got were all before the craze went on about the shoes. Some of which became very rare because of how tough it would be to collect nowadays. His love for the shoes came before the hype. He bought shoes that meant something to him and captured his own interest. That lead to him buying multiple pairs of the same style just to not have to worry about ruining the style of pair that he loves. (Sneak Peek: Inside DJ Skee’s Sneaker Closet Part One)

As the demand start to rise, the price of shoes also went up. Another reason why shoes can get so popular is because celebrities start to wear sneakers and sign with shoe brands like Nike and Jordan. Coming out with shoes that are intentionally for them but also in extremely very limited quantity. Thus, when someone manages to get their hand on a pair, it can be resell for a very large amount of profit. Recently, Kanye West had his personal shoe style that Nike made for him; the hype that was build around the release had everyone anticipating it. Minutes after release, the pair which originally priced at two hundred and forty-five dollars was reselling online for well over three grand. (Flores) As a sneakerhead, it would be a prized-possession to have that in part of their collection. Better luck if they could have got it for retail instead of the reselling value. So like what was said in the video, “Life of a Sneakerhead,” why one pair might be inside a glass case, well it is because it is worth more than his car.

Even though it seems nice to own a pair that is worth a lot in money value. There are others out there that take advantage of the popularity of the shoes and would buy it to make money out of them. People with the sole purpose of reselling for profit should not be considered sneakerheads but just the simple term of resellers. Alex, from ABC news is one of the many people who take the opportunity to get the shoes that are well praised by people to sell for profit. In the city of New York and New Jersey, it seems as so that everybody is either buying, selling, or trading for a pair that they want; but in reality, teenagers like Alex, is there to make money. Alex would go camping out on the next release or anticipating the online release to snag a pair to resell later on. (ABC Nightline Take A Look Into Sneakerheads) This really counters others that would want the pair and now the only way to get it is to buy it for above the retail price. It is not as if the price of shoes aren’t already going up due to the amount of people growing interest in shoes such as Nike and Jordan. Nike Industry knows there are always consumers of their products so it isn’t a problem for them to steadily increase the price of their products over the past decade. People who know of the sneaker culture sometime recognize them as being quite wealthy because of them going out to buy such high price shoes.

Before the entire buzz about shoes and it being mainstream, kids who were fortunate enough would get an iconic shoe that NBA star player would wear on the court. Macklemore, was one that appreciate the shoe game at a young age too. A rapper who originated from Seattle, Washington rapped a song that really explained how the trend of shoes from back in the day to up to date now. The song he wrote called, “Wings.” Tells a story about the age that he first own a pair of Air Jordans along with the effects and result that came along with it. Within the song, he mentioned that owning the pair of shoes made him cool and it made him feel like playing like Michael Jordan; this were some of the positive attribute in owning a nice pair. It was all swell until something sad happened, his friend’s brother died because someone wanting what was on his feet. One of the saddest part about the shoe culture is that the people who go over board to obtain a pair. (Kiel) Macklemore’s music video showed that in the end he lost his shoes because somebody ganged up and robbed him. In the video of ABC news, it mentioned how people rioted in mall and break down doors to get to the store first just to get the shoes. This could make it hard for people to not agree that sometime sneakerheads are crazy for their shoes or even inhuman. The length and determination of someone who wants to get their pair if they really love it can be pretty astonishing.

Growing up I was always a basketball fan and had the inspiration to play like the NBA star. What better way to do it then beg my parents to buy me a pair of shoes that Michael Jordan wore. As I grew older and start buying my own shoes, I noticed the craziness that happened in the sneaker culture. One of the scariest happenings was I getting chased by a couple of dudes who was after the shoes that I was wearing. Shoe collecting was much easier back then than how it is now. I was able to walk into the mall, pay for my shoes, and wear it the next day to school and all my friends be complimenting how cool I am or how great the shoes look. It then became what seems like me showcasing my collection by wearing a different pair each day. Students at school recognized it and some thought I was insane, and others thought I was rich. What I was really doing was wearing what I feel like wearing and how I feel for the day.

The evolution of shoes of different style has followed along with fashion as best as possible. As Nike have been creating shoes with colors that are retro and favorable in consumers. Sneakerheads are going to continue to collect because of their love for shoes and others that like to make a profit out of the real popular shoes. With the rate of hype that is continuing to build on shoes that are coming to release along the years it doesn’t seem that there will be an end to people buying shoes. Those that is capable of buying all the shoes that releases can be viewed as rich and wealthy, whereas those that don’t might try to get them other ways. Some might even think it is ridiculous to own that much pair. As for me, I’m going to continue to buy whatever pair that gets my attention and keep it for a very long time.

Work Cited

LIFE OF A SNEAKERHEAD. Dir. FungBrosComedy. 17 July 2013. Youtube. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Flores, Gerald. “Did Nike Handle the “Red October” Air Yeezy II Launch the Right Way?.” ComplexSneakers. N.p., 9 Feb. 2014. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


ABC’s Nightline Takes A Look Into Sneakerheads: Teenagers Mak. Dir. ABC. 15 July 2013. Youtube. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Sneak Peek: Inside DJ Skee’s Sneaker Closet Part One. Dir. Nicekicks. 30 Jan. 2013.Youtube. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Kiel III, George. “CONFLICTS OF A CULTURE: 1 ON 1 WITH “WINGS” ARTIST MACKLEMORE.” Nicekicks. N.p., 2011. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Esteban, . “23 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Air Jordans.” Refined Guy. N.p., 5 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Jan. <;.