Where is the Sneaker Game Headed?
By: Tyson Danner
If I were to ask any sneakerhead, “Do you think you could lose interest in sneakers?” I would expect them to answer by saying “no”, of course. Recently though, I have been noticing how a lot of older sneakerheads are starting to feel drained in today’s sneaker community. This could be due to a number of reasons, but anybody who has been calling themselves a sneakerhead since before 2015 knows that the culture is very different today.
First, I have to mention if you didn’t already know, the reselling culture runs the world right now. If you are wondering how resellers are controlling the market, there's two answers to that. With sneaker hype being greater than it's ever been, and supply of course not meeting demand to insure that a company’s sneakers remains sought after, most of us have no choice but to purchase our sneakers from a reseller. I know a ton of resellers, and I definitely do not dislike them, because they are just simply taking advantage of a market the same way stockholders do with stocks. For most, reselling is a side job that pays better than most part time jobs. The difference today, and the reason that collectors are becoming over it is because there are way more resellers than collectors, and there are various reasons for this. Sneakers are becoming way too expensive, so expensive that it actually makes more sense today to sell a pair of shoes for a large amount than to spend that large amount buying a pair of shoes. What keeps me going personally as a sneaker collector, is that feeling of completion I get after finally being able to find a sneaker that I have sought after. (the reseller pictured below is @top_shelf_gear on Instagram!).
Next, I have to mention that part of the reason behind this is the sneaker company’s fault. It has never been harder to purchase a pair of sneakers for the retail price than it is today. Some of this has to do with supply and demand but another problem is the raffle system. Myself and a lot of you may remember when sneakers were actually accessible, especially general release shoes. You could walk into your local retailers a month and a half after the release date and would still be able to grab a pair or two. When it came to the most hyped releases (any Jordan 11 or Quickstrike Nike shoe), your chances of grabbing a pair were still decent, we used to camp out for shoes or else you would have to wait in a long line. Basically, you were rewarded a pair for being on point and being early! Today, many people miss the time when sneakers were first come first serve, and a rare first come first serve release definitely gives us a feeling of nostalgia, but ultimately that method came with too many cons. Even though the first come first serve selling method for retail stores has proven itself to be too problematic with it’s past history of fights and even killings, I think companies could find a better way to ensure that customers that actually want to purchase sneakers could eventually get a chance.
Lastly, A lot of drops that we have been getting recently are very random colorways, or a hyped collaboration, and I think we are getting releases way too often. There are so many sneakers dropping back to back in today’s sneaker game, it is becoming hard to keep up. For example, ever since the hype has shifted towards Nike Dunks, there has been a Dunk drop almost every other day this summer, sometimes two in one day. None of these colorways have real significance or stories anyway, just hype, so of course they sell out instantly every single time. I think what older sneakerheads miss the most is the stories and significance that comes with your sneakers. Like when Nike let hospitalized kids design shoes for their collaboration with Doernbecher hospital, or how the Shattered Backboard Jordan 1’s are inspired by the jersey that Jordan wore in Italy when he actually shattered a backboard. Of course there’s still love for every OG colorway retro as well, even though the quality is becoming more and more subpar as technology gets better (I know that is very backwards). Today’s sneaker drops are saturated with lazy 2.0 versions of the originals, and wild color schemes that shouldn’t work together but end up working anyway because hype drives sell nowadays. (Jordan 5 Doernbecher and the Jordan 1 Shattered Backboard 1.0 pictured below).
While this sneaker era is driven by hype and opinions, I don’t doubt one bit that this hype era will soon come to an end. With that being said, it is still good that the sneaker game is getting so much recognition now. I really hope that sneakerheads or collectors who may feel exhaustion from the game right now, can soon get the urge to want to be into sneakers again. For the majority of us though, sneakers are what we grew up loving, and at some point if not still one of the most important things in our lives and a minor setback could never ruin our relationship with our beloved passion for shoes!
Thanks for reading!