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You may have heard the term “Sneakerhead” in passing on the train or bus. Perhaps it caught your attention when you saw it a magazine or on social media. Maybe you’ve even heard friends or loved ones use the term to describe you. But, let’s be honest–do you know what it actually means?
To give you a full understanding of what a sneakerhead is, we’ll have to take a brief trip back in history. The entire sneakerhead craze really started in the 80’s with the Michael Jordan second sneaker (or first Jordan named sneaker.) The Air Ship is what he wore when he first came into the NBA. It was called the Jordan 1 and was banned by the NBA because it failed to meet the on court uniform regulations for NBA players and Mike was fined $5,000 a game when he wore the sneaker. Before this, the sneaker was not a big deal. As soon as it became the first sneaker to be banned in the NBA, it exploded in sales for Nike.
This moment on October 18, 1985 was the beginning of the sneakerhead. Sneakers went from being just a shoe to an instant fashion statement.
Now fast forward a decade or so and, according to statisticbrain.com, you have a 48 billion dollar industry, with Nike being the leader of the pack (including the Nike owned Jordan brand) followed by Adidas, Under Armor, and Sketchers.
But enough with the history lesson, let’s break down this sneakerhead thing once and for all. Like most cultural phenomena, sneakerheads have different categories. (By the way, these are in no particular order):
1. The Hype Beast
A Hype beast is a person or group of people that want the latest and greatest sneaker coming out. Sometimes it could be due to a particular colorway (sneaker term) or it could have been worn by a celebrity. Maybe it’s very rare or limited, making it exclusive. Whatever the reason for it’s popularity, that fact that people have hyped that particular shoe make it high in demand with hype beasts! It’s a MUST cop (yet another sneaker term.) Why? Nobody really knows, but you have to have it. Even if you have to spend rent or grocery money. Getting two pairs of the same show is not uncommon, one to rock and one to stock, or “put on ice” (definitely a sneaker term.) Most of the time these are folks who are not trying to keep their sneakers, they wanna cash out. A lot of older sneakerheads don’t like dealing with newbies, because sometimes they can have unrealistic expectations about the price or condition of sneakers.
2. The Enthusiast
The Enthusiast is a person that buys sneakers for the fun of it, motivated by the love of the hunt for rare or exclusive sneakers. Like Hype Beasts, they might also cop two pair to rock and stock because they tend to have a larger collection that they sell or trade. The thrill of the hunt is what a lot of enthusiasts live for. Also, a lot of people use this term to describe themselves because it sounds more mature than Hype Beast.
3. The OG
The OG has been collecting for years. They have sneakers from ages ago that are sometimes discontinued. They tend to have large collections and rarely buy newer styled sneakers for the sake of being trendy. The OG typically sticks with the classics unless something newer catches their eye. Many OG’s have little respect for the younger generation of sneakerheads. To them, a sneaker is meant to be worn and enjoyed, and this enjoyment should not be tarnished by the ceaseless hype the surrounds acquiring of a new pair of kicks.
4. The Collector
Collectors usually have large and rare collections of sneakers and samples and/or PE’s (Player Editions). A lot of times they spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on sneakers and rarely, if ever, wear them. The Collector will pose the sneakers with props or have themes with a sneaker for photo or display purposes.
5. The Reseller
The Reseller is sometimes viewed as the bane of sneakerhead existence. Resellers will buy a limited edition sneaker, no matter the size, and resell it for a higher price. So if a shoe is hyped and retail is $160, they will purchase it and resell it with a huge mark up. An example is the Nike Yeezy 2. The retail was about $245, but resell now is approx. $2,500-$3,500, depending on size and colorway. Some colorways are more limited than others, but overall, there are several factors in setting market price. Not all Resellers charge crazy, ridiculous prices over retail, but many do.