Sneaker culture has really become quite the phenomenon; people lining up for hours to be the first to buy the new Jordan’s, selling and trading rare pairs, bonding with other sneakerheads over shoe collections. Its a huge community that is exponentially growing, bringing people together over the love of sneakers. It is also the reason why many people like myself have too many shoes and not enough moola. Like Carrie said, “I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet.”
In honour of Nike’s self-appointed Air Max Day yesterday (March 26) I participated by Instagraming a pic of my two pairs of Air Max Theas. For anyone who doesn’t know, Air Max Day celebrates the day the Air Max 1 was released back in 1987. Even though I own a few pairs of cool sneakers, I would say I am more of an outsider looking in and definitely not a sneakerhead. But I do find the culture fascinating. It is more than a materialistic obsession that Western society has sunk us in to; it represents community, passion, and creativity within the fashion world.
As defined by Matt Powell, a sneakerhead is simply someone who has a passion for collecting, admiring, and trading sneakers. They contribute much time and money into their hobby, gathering a collection of knowledge and sneakers.
What started as a passion of men for basketball sneakers, has become a cultural phenomenon for all people, men and women alike (although women’s shoes still aren’t as cool, many women buy men’s shoes in a smaller size to stay ahead of the sneaker game). Sneakerheads have been around as long as brands have been associating themselves with star athletes. Basically, the popularity of a basketball sneaker coincides with the popularity of the player that wears them, makes sense right? One of the first examples of this is Converse’s success with Chuck Taylor’s in 1921 who played in the All-Star game and suggested changes to the shoes resulting in the shoe being named after him. Iconic shoes follow iconic people. Hence, Michael Jordan’s shoe success. What pushed the original success of Jordan’s was the NBA ban and the integration into the hip hop music scene, making them even more coveted. Other players like Lebron, Kobe, and Durrant have created their own lines as well, but no one will come near the sales of Jordans.
Obviously with the monetary benefit of selling sneakers, celebrity collaborations outside of the basketball court have rocketed with, not surprisingly, less success. The brands increase popularity and rarity of shoes by producing a very limited quantity of these collaborations, upping the hype and most of the time the price on resell.
Today, sneakerheads can connect through the Internet, sharing their stories and shoes on social media platforms. Don’t believe me? Just look up the posts from yesterday using #AirMaxDay.
Highsnobiety wrote a sweet list of facts you probably didn’t know about Air Max, that you are welcome to use to impress all of your sneakerhead friends:
1. The Visible Air unit on the Air Max 1 was inspired by the “inside out” architecture of the George Pompidou Centre in Paris which was deigned by renowned architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.
2. The 1987 TV Campaign to launch the Air Max 1 was the first ad to use a song performed by The Beatles (“Revolution”).
3. The original Air Max was part of the wider “Air Pack” that featured the Air Safari, Air Revolution, Air Trainer and Air Sock.
4. There are actually 2 OG versions of what came to be known as the Air Max 1 – early prototype models dating from 1986 featured a larger Air bag and different midsole design. The Air bag was made smaller by 1987 due to production issues.
5. The OG Air Max 90 features the legendary “Infrared” colorway. However, this is a relatively new description of the color and wasn’t officially used by Nike until 2003.
6. The Air 180 marketing campaign featured work by the illustrator and Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman amongst others as well as a TV ad campaign directed by David Cronenberg (director of The Fly, Crash,Naked Lunch et al).
7. Range Rover featured an Air Max 93 in a press ad to help promote the vehicle’s air suspension system.
8. Japanese retailer atmos was the first company to collaborate on an Air Max 1 in 2002.
9. Nike-Air technology was created by the late Marion Frank Rudy, a former aerospace engineer with NASA.
10. The development of the shoe came at a fraught time for the company. Tinker Hatfield literally had hate messages pinned to his door, discouraging him from designing the shoe.
Sneakers have made it off the court and into the fashion world, and now they are considered fashion statements and can be worn as chic accessories. They always look fresh and clean but are so comfy; its the best of both worlds. And when you own enough pairs (you know you’re guilty), every outfit can be paired with sneakers. It has even become art, check out the sweet digital creations by @Careaux.
Why do you wear sneakers? Post a picture of your favourite pair!