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Sneaker culture

Zeb Berg (’17) is part of a growing movement that has taken the U.K. by storm: Sneaker culture. Berg believes that being a part of the sneaker movement is “[to have]a common interest in sneakers. It’s not just owning a couple pairs of sneakers, but also knowing the history, understanding the purpose, and recognizing different styles and models.”

Being a part of sneaker culture can mean that you compliment people’s sneakers as they walk through the hallway, or it can mean developing friendships through a mutual passion for sneakers.

Khari Brandes (’16) believes that sneakers are “as much a part of the identity of the students as any other culture that is represented.”

“I think there is a really strong relationship with the fashion culture of ASL, as in general the people who buy into sneaker culture, such as myself, are doing so to complement their wider clothing styles,” Brandes said.

Sneaker culture has become a well-defined movement across the United States with people camping outside shoe stores for days before releases. People even resort to violence, with numerous muggings and killings revolving around sneakers.

However, the movement is making its way overseas slowly but surely. Now, sneaker-based Facebook groups have been created in the U.K., containing tens of thousands of members.

A large aspect of buying and selling shoes is sneaker events. These events are large conventions where thousands of people attend. People can set up a table and buy or sell shoes, or just talk with fellow sneaker aficionados. At these events, sneakers are often available for purchase at inflated prices.

Antonio Pineda (’17),  a sneaker collector, believes the reason behind the sneaker’s sky-high prices is its limited quantity and its celebrity endorsers. “With some sneakers being released in limited quantities along with celebrities such as Kevin Durant and Kanye West endorsing these shoes, people want to buy them and they are willing to pay for them.”

London’s most well-known event is Crepe City whereas events known as SneakerCons are held across the United States, bringing together buyers and sellers as well as collectors.

Justin Hoyt (’18) recently went to SneakerCon in New York City. At the convention, Hoyt sold 10 shoes and made over $2,000. He described the atmosphere at the convention as “spectacular” due to the wide array of shoes available and the different personalities represented.

Sneaker events can not only encourage buying and selling, but also can get people interested through their unique experience.

Danyal Mahmood (’15) was first introduced to the culture because of a sneaker event. “When I was in [Grade 10] I went to a sneaker event called Crepe City and that’s how I got intrigued by the concept [of sneakers collecting].”

For Hoyt, sneakers play a significant role in his life, whether buying, selling or collecting. Hoyt started collecting sneakers at the mere age of 13.

Hoyt, though, does not believe the sneaker culture at school is that strong. Instead, Hoyt believes there is a direct correlation between sneakers and basketball and believes that is why sneakers are more popular in the United States.

Magnus Allan (’17), another sneaker collector, believes that his passion is driven by his music taste, primarily hip-hop, where his favorite artists have their own collections.

Hoyt cites rapper Wale, who owns over 1,000 sneakers, as one of his initial reasons for getting into sneaker collecting.

Sneaker trends vary from city to city. Brandes believes that his taste has changed since he has moved to London. “Living in suburban California, I was mainly interested in skating shoes like Etnies, Vans, and even Converse. Then, when I moved to London, I became more interested in urban shoes by Nike and Adidas because this is more or less what people around me were wearing.”

Berg’s interest in sneakers developed because of his mother. “When I was little I really wanted a new pair of basketball shoes but my mother said they were too expensive, so she told me to go look for a better deal online,” Brandes said. “I went on the computer and started looking at all types of shoes, expensive and cheap, which then sparked my interest.”

Berg has been into sneakers for five years and considers himself a casual collector. However, Berg has done some selling of his own, selling a pair of Nike Yeezy Red October 2’s for $3,000, which retailed at $245. Berg bought the pair of shoes from a link he saw on Twitter; a common approach for many sneaker enthusiasts.

Much like Berg, Brandes got into sneakers through his mother. “My mom bought my first pair of Jordan’s, for when I used to play peewee basketball, when I was quite young, I think around five. I can’t even remember them that well and didn’t understand the significance of the brand. After that, around the ages of six and seven, is when I started to pick out my own shoes.”

Sneaker culture has different identities, and can appear in different ways but it is a growing phenom not only in the U.K. but in ASL as well.

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