Some people live as frugally as possible to save up for a certain something. Other people spend ridiculous amounts of money on ridiculous items. That can either be sporting events, expensive foods, or things people will never need in their lives. Today we look into one specific item that people will spend as much as their annual salary on–shoes. They are known as “sneakerheads.”
A sneakerhead is “a devotee of athletic footwear,” according to USA Today (Jun. 22, 2014). They are a semi-mainstream group of footwear fans whose demographics go from teens to celebrities like Mark Wahlberg and Jerry Seinfeld. Forbes reported on Aug. 21, 2014, that sneakerheads represent about 5 percent of the $22 billion retail sneaker market in the United States.
In the world of sneakerheads, there are two words that are constantly used: hypebeast and Kanye West. Recently, West teamed up with Nike for his shoe line, Yeezys, priced at $4,000-$5,000 on eBay. The word hypebeast refers to people who try too hard to get the shoes and buy everything that the brand releases. People spend ridiculous amounts of money, and end up living without everyday essentials.
Shoe designer Christian Louboutin once said, “Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.” Sneakerheads are truly a group that has learned to use their shoes to express their personalities and entrepreneurial instincts.
The first basketball shoes were made by Chuck Taylor in the 1960s. Shoes weren’t a thing that people would pay $500-$600 just to sit on display. Shoes were bought to use and have a purpose. Time passed and today collecting shoes has become a “thing.” People earn money from buying them and selling them at a higher price. The New York Times of Aug. 29, 2014, stated that sneakerheads have actually been around for decades.
Social media has very much helped this group become bigger than they have ever been in the past. Vivian Frank, also known as the owner of YTWW ( Yeezy Talk Worldwide) said, “Social media is one of the ways I got more involved in the game, as this is how I met like-minded individuals from all over the world.” In the ’80s people wanted laces and designs that were personal and that nobody else knew about.
Today’s sneakerhead buys primarily Nike, Jordan, or whatever Kanye is wearing, but the classic brands also include Puma, Vans, and Adidas. Yesterday’s shoe enthusiast wanted awesome sneakers at a steal. Today, they want to spend more around $500 on a pair of sneaks. Another difference is that before, people bought sneakers to use and show off; now, collectors are seeing the sneakers more as investments. But at the end of the day, one thing hasn’t changed about the sneakerhead: It’s a passion that sweeps a select group of individuals participating in what they love.
As shoe devotees were getting serious about the “shoe game,” the shoe brands knew they could make a lot more money. Shoes prices increased, as did the bank accounts of their brand CEOs. Also, as the hype of sneakers became more and more important, other parts of the sneakerhead’s life became less important. According to the Huffington Post, college student Andrew Poveda stated, “I’m skipping school. I’m missing out on tests.”
When people heard that Kanye’s Yeezys were coming out, people camped in front of a store for weeks. This craze is causing young people to prioritize in the wrong way. Another problem of sneakerheads is the violence happening while people are waiting in line. They become so obsessed to get their shoe in their size, that the fanatics will cause harm to get them.
People might say it is ignorant to buy and spend thousands of dollars on just one thing. However, sneakerheads collect and sell shoes because they love them. And whether you think that collecting is awesome or dumb, in the end, no one can argue that sneakerheads have a true passion for something they create, and really love the shoes that they strive to collect.