Home Opinion Columns More Than Just Shoes

More Than Just Shoes

Avery poses with his variety of sneakers that make up his collection.

“You have too many pairs of shoes.”

If I had a dime for every time my friends and family have told me that, I think I’d have enough money to buy me a new pair of sneakers.

If you’ve heard this before, then chances are you have a fascination with sneakers and the amount of time and money you spend on them. If you haven’t and don’t know what I’m talking about, then here’s what you need to know about sneakers.

In the year 1985, the beginnings of a culture and phenomenon would arise that would eventually become a multi-billion dollar industry and start a whole community surrounded by one common interest: sneakers.

The reason 1985 is so important is that in that year the infamous Air Jordan 1, a basketball shoe created by Nike and the hall of fame basketball player Michael Jordan debuted, and the world has been a different place ever since. The creation of the Air Jordan 1 would lead to more Air Jordans being debuted (i.e. Air Jordan 2, Air Jordan 3, Air Jordan 4, etc.) and a door opening. Behind this door was sneaker collecting and sneakerheads.

Sneaker collecting hasn’t become uber popular and mainstream until about the mid-to-late 2000s and it’s increasing in the amount of people buying, selling and trading sneakers.

Sneakers don’t have to be Air Jordans either. Sneakers can be a wide variety including, but not limited to, newer models like Adidas Ultra Boost, NMD and Yeezys, Nike Air Foamposites, SB Dunk Lows, Flyknit Racers Air Max 1, Under Armour Currys and other brands like Vans, Asics and New Balance. Some sneakers, although most likely unwearable, can be purely collectibles like ones from the 1980s and 1990s, but most shoes from about 2000 and on are fair game to be worn.

I have about 20 pairs of sneakers and compared to many other sneakerheads, 20 is pretty miniscule. Twenty pairs might be the number they pick up in a span of a couple months, whereas it’s taken me a couple of years to get to the point I’m at, an amount of roughly $1,800.

Of course I’m looking to expand my collection of sneakers, but with me being a college student and paying for tuition, I don’t have the time, or money to get to a point where I’ll be content with my collection for now.

I view myself as a sneakerhead nonetheless. But more of a variation than anything else. For a long time I viewed sneakerheads as people who wore distressed skinny jeans, bought clothing brands like Supreme and BAPE and they drove a nice car. And they strictly wore Air Jordans, or Yeezys. I still think of sneakerheads in this way, but I have to remind myself that it’s a stereotype, not what a sneakerhead really is. Sure, there are some that embody it, kudos to them, but it’s not for me, or for a lot of other people into sneakers.

As for me, I’m a sneakerhead, but I don’t fit the stereotype. I view the number of sneakers I have and the clothes I wear as lesser of importance of what my sneakers say about me. The 20 showcase the range of my different tastes and preferences when it comes to what I put on my feet. And that means I might not want to wear Air Jordans all time. Sometimes a pair of Sperry Top Siders is exactly what I’m looking to wear, or maybe it’s a pair of Converse; either way, I have some “sneakers” that some sneaker heads wouldn’t agree to be conventional, but the best part of it all is it’s not about what they like, it’s about what I like.

This diverse collection has been a great source of pride, but also a cloud of confusion as I’ve progressed in my time as a sneaker head.

I’ve looked at my collection of sneakers on my shoe rack and I’ve thought to myself, ‘I’ve got a good variety when it comes to my sneakers,’ but in another moment I think, ‘This has got to be one of the weirdest collections of sneakers out there.’ I’ve struggled with the angle I take with my sneakers. Because my first thought of what a sneaker is is not Sperrys, or Chacos, but classics like Air Jordans and newer shoes like the Adidas NMD R1, Ultra Boost and Nike Flyknit Racer and Air Max 1. Sperrys, Converse, Chacos and Cole Haans are not what come to mind. is tug-a-war between more acceptable sneakers and shoes that don’t fit the definition of a sneaker is a battle for me and I think I’ll have this internal war of what a “sneaker” is for awhile.

But what I want you to understand is that sneakers are not a waste of money. It’s a way for people to invest in something and an outlet to express their individuality.

My friends and family have never understood why I love sneakers and why I spend so much time looking at them and spending money on them. ey think my fascination for sneakers is a waste of time and money, but to me my sneakers are a representation of my ever-changing style and the way I like to express myself.

The best part about sneakers is that it’s a hobby open to anyone. Sneakerheads come in all shapes and sizes. Sneakerheads aren’t just one group of people, but a community of men and women, boys and girls from all walks of life and all different types of backgrounds.

If you’re interested in getting more involved in sneakers and sneaker culture, a good website to read about upcoming releases and information about sneakers is sneakernews.com. This website is wholeheartedly dedicated to everything sneakers and it’s where I developed my love and enthusiasm for sneakers. A good tip for those just starting out is to gradually get into it. Don’t spend a boatload of money on sneakers that you may or may not like just to be a sneakerhead. Take time to look at the history of the brand and sneakers you’re thinking about buying and inform yourself on what it is you’re getting yourself into. But all said and done, sneakers are a wonderful way for someone to express themselves and nd a community to be a part of.