A person who owns a lot of sneakers is a sneakerhead, often for the purpose of collecting them instead of wearing them. The term is similar to the more common term “gearhead” which refers to an individual who is aware of mechanical objects, such as automobiles or computers.
With several sneakers priced at several hundred dollars, being a sneakerhead can be a very costly hobby. However, it can also be very lucrative, with thousands of dollars re-selling rare sneakers. Sneakerheads not only collect shoes, but also have immense knowledge of the history of footwear, which is obtained from their study into the purchase of sneakers.
Run DMC became one of the biggest influencers in the early 80’s, just when urban wear was making an entrance into mainstream culture. Run DMC, renowned for colorful clothing and a good amount of “bling,” also wore the famous shell-toe track shoes from Adidas. The band really liked going so far with their shoes as to devote an entire album they called My Adidas. In the early years, Adidas was most certainly the king of the urban fashion sneaker market, but a drastic change was about to happen. For that we can thank “His-Airness”, Michael Jordan, and Nike.
During the late 1980s, the sneakerhead subculture emerged in the United States and had gone global by the end of the 1990s. In pursuit of unique, deadstock, antique, and limited edition sneakers to invest in, hardcore sneaker collectors in Britain, Europe, and the US buy online and go to outlets, sneaker meetings, swapmeets, parties, and gatherings. Originally popular among urban black youth and white skateboarders, by the 21st century, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, and China had also gained a large Asian following.
Sneakerheads collect, depending on their choice, shoes from several different brands. Nike, Air Jordan, Adidas, Converse, New Balance, Puma, Vans, Reebok and several others are famous brands for sneaker heads. While there is no limit to what brands are gathered by Sneakerheads, Nike, Air Jordan, and Adidas are typically the top spots. Eight of the top ten sneakers of 2019 come from Nike and Jordan Brand in Complex’s “Best Sneakers of2019” list, with one from Adidas and one from New Balance. As for clothes, it is typically left to the individual’s personal style, while popular trends in the culture of sneakers usually overlap with trends and styles of streetwear.
Nike and Air Jordan are the specific shoe brand a sneaker head covets, while a devoted following has blossomed from several other footwear brands. Brands such as adidas, Vans, Supra, A Bathing Ape, and other high-quality brands of footwear have built a product line that appeals more to sneaker heads than to casual daily consumers.
In the 1990s, Nike and Air Jordan created indomitable lines of designs for footwear. Both firms were the industry’s unchallenged champions, and it wasn’t until the late 1990s that these models became collector items. Nike launched the Nike SB (skateboarding) product line in2002, offering exclusive colourways in a fat-tongued skater-friendly fit of the iconic Nike Dunk. The limited availability of the Nike SB line lit a flame in the subculture of the sneaker head; due to the limited availability, newly manufactured sneakers rapidly became collector items, and thus the selling value of the shoes surpassed the suggested retail price.
The sneaker head sub-culture has become popular over the past few years, completely exposing the “sneaker head” into the glare of pop culture. These once-limited goods have been turned into a one-for-all distribution by the inundation of releases and versions. The sneaker head still remains, though, and the sub-culture does so for them. It’s not only about the rarest or most expensive shoe for a sneaker head, but the one that doesn’t have a price.