Present Times

As time pass by, the collection of sneakers became more inculcated in the culture and society that we live. With the help of the Internet, there were endless possibilities and opportunities in the world of the sneakerheads. Sneakerheads, nowadays, use the social media sites namely: Facebook, Instagram, and even in Twitter. If in the earlier periods, one must exhaust in order to communicate with other collectors, with the help of technology, the sneakerheads are just one click away on finding the perfect community for them.

As you scroll through your social media accounts, you can see that there are photographs in which a sneakerhead with his sneakers on. In line with this scenario, advertising became much easier for them. History, information, rumors and releases can be searched and be seen all over the Internet. People would create facebook groups that would support their needs as a sneakerhead. Through that, they can sell, trade critique and collect various brands of sneakers. Because of this, it helped to heat up the world of sneaker lovers.

The internet also influenced on how these sneakerheads transact with each other. The time came when sneakerheads would buy, trade and sell with the help of peer-to-peer websites and social networking sites. Because of this, the game of collecting sneakers drastically changed. Rare styles, collector’s items, retro styles and alike would usually sell multiple times their original retail value. One perfect example of this is the trending Yeezy which was produced by Adidas. Most of the Yeezys would come from the United States. Because we are in the Philippines, the resellers would sell it multiple times their original value. Yeezys would usually cost Php 40,000.

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Credits: Mr. Jed Oblenida

Finally, brands began to do collaborations with artists, musicians, and celebrities, creating specially designed, extremely limited edition styles. The brands intended for such shoes to give them further hype and credibility within the sneakerhead community. Because collaborations were very limited in quantity, they became highly desirable. Collaborations created yet another market for collectors. (Powell, 2017). Some of the notable sneakers that is in the mainstream are:

Adidas Yeezy (Kanye West)

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Credits: Mr. Jed Oblenida

Adidas NMD Human Race (Pharrell Williams)

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Adidas Superstar (Pharell Williams)

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Supreme x Nike Air Max 98present4

Reebok Ventilator (Kendrick Lamar)

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Very quickly the sneakerhead world went from collecting for fun to profiteering. As resale prices escalated on limited edition shoes, a new type of “sneakerhead” came into being: the speculator.  Looking merely to make a quick buck (or hundreds of quick bucks), many more buyers got into the game with the sole intent of flipping limited edition shoes, sometimes on the same day they bought them.(Powell, 2017). We can see how technology affected the culture and society we live in. We did not expect that all of this would drastically change, but with the help of a medium all of a sudden a huge game changer happened.

 

 

To support our study about the sneakerhead community, we have interviewed friends and acquaintances. From their own perspectives and experiences, it is nice to know their points listed below:

 

  • In your own perspective, what is a sneakerhead? In line with this what is a hypebeast?
  • How do you usually transact?
  • What type of dress do you usually wear?
  • What terms do you usually use in transactions?
  • Do you earn money from this? If yes, how much?
  • What type of shoes do you usually buy, trade and collect?

 

I have interviewed Mr. Jed Oblenida, a friend of mine. He graduated from the same school I was in when I was in high school. Since when we were in high school, I could see that he is into collection of sneakers. When we play basketball from time to time, he would wear variations of the Kobe Bryant signature shoes. He would post on his social media accounts about the sneakers that he and even advertise the line of sneakers he wears and support.

 

According to Mr. Oblenida, a sneakerhead is a person who loves shoes and has a big knowledge about the history and significance of a shoe. Meanwhile a Hypebeast is a person that has money and always cops what is “Hyped up” or what’s expensive and has small to none background at all. In our society they thought being labeled as a hypebeast is a compliment, but in the real culture, it ain’t because it only tells that you have the buying power but no knowledge. In the present times, especially the so called “Millenials” often relate the word hypebeast and sneakerheads simply because hypebeasts also wear eye catching “hyped up” sneakers. Mr. Oblenida also does business through his hobby of collecting sneakers of his likeness. He transact through meet-up because he likes to inspect the item before he buy, trade or sell them. Because of buying and selling sneakers and hyped up clothes, he earns an average of Php 40,000 to Php 50,000 a month if the market is up, but if the market is down he sometimes earn Php 20,000 to Php 30,000 only. With his statements, we can see how powerful sneaker can be used as a tool to compete in the market. It gives a lot of opportunity to people who want to start a business.

They also use a lot of terms to state the condition of a pair:

  • BNDS-Brand New Deadstock
  • DS- Deadstock
  • Beaters- The shoe’s condition is low
  • VNDS- Very Near Deadstock

 

When it comes to the dress he wears, he dress accordingly based on the weather, occasion, company and alike. He likes to put on trackpantseverytime because it is comfortable and it compliments his current rotation. Jed also likes to buy designer shoes because the price is right and the quality that you will have is the best. He also suggest that if you are going to spend a lot of money in sneakers, might as well buy the best quality possible to get the most out of your money. Jed also added that his fondness of sneakers started when he was still young. Everyone in his family was into basketball. They like shoes as well as his cousins had the best shoes. Every release they would have the freshest kicks offered in the market. They are not well off back then compared to them, but when Jed grew up, he discovered that He can flip money on his own so he started saving up for few pairs. He also started with the right and consistent mindset.

Here are some of Mr. Jed Oblenida’s photograph:

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The second interviewee was also a friend of mine, former classmate, church mate and batchmate. He is Mr. Gabriel Jerome Lachihca. When we were in high school, I did not see any potential that he would be a sneakerhead someday. He would wear baggy pants and oversized shirts simply because he was a fan of FlipTop battle. When time came, I could see his transition to being a sneakerhead from his facebook and Instagram accounts. He and Jed would usually collaborate to create perfect shot of pictures in order to advertise and show off the line of sneakers that they wear and support.

Gab stated that a sneakerhead is an individual who has the love and passion in collecting different kinds and stuff. On the other hand, Hypebeasts are individuals who are always up for the latest trend on clothing, shoes, and other related acts with respect to the street culture. In his case, he transact retail customer to person. He purchase items sometimes in stores and shops but sometimes, he purchase goods from the sneakerhead community who resells similar things. Gab also does business by being a sneakerhead and hypebeast as well. In his experience, he earns money from selling stuffs. The amount varies on the stuff the he sells. In an average, the highest amount the he earned in selling is Php 6,000.

He also said that in the streetwear scene, there are certain codes and languages that they usually use. Some of these terms are:

  • FT- For Trade
  • LF- Looking For
  • LP- Last Price
  • LFAF-Looking For In Behalf of A Friend
  • BN- Brand New
  • DSWT- Dead Stock with Tags
  • BIN- Buy It Now
  • WTB- Want To Buy

As a sneakerhead and hypebeast, Gab likes to wear streetwears and urban clothing to support the identity that he established. He prefers buying sneakers such as Asics, Adidas (Yeezy’s and Ultra Boosts) and Nike Air’s. He does not usually sell or trade sneakers but only when it is needed.

Here are some Instagram posts of Mr. Gabriel Jerome Lachica:

Our third interviewee is Mr. Elle De Vera from Pila, Laguna. He said that in his own perspective, sneakerheads are people who are obsessed in shoes that are trending. Sometimes, sneakerheads do not use the shoes, but instead they collect them and sell it in a higher price. He admits that he is a sneakerhead. He showed me some of his collection of shoes. Hypebeast, based on him, is a sneakerhead that is collecting shoes, but not typical shoes but shoes that are expensive. We asked him what kind of transaction they do if they buy online. He said that they do meet ups or deposit. He explained how the deposit happens. The buyer will text or chat the seller then the buyer will ask where will he deposit the money. After the buyer deposited the money, he will notify the seller. The seller then will be shipping now the shoes that the buyer ordered. But he claimed that the safest and common transaction is the meet up. Safest because the buyer will be able to check the pair of shoes is legit or not. We all know that we define people by their type of clothing but based on our interviewee, sneakerheads do not have specific type of dress they are wearing but it is based on their own personality. Below are some of the “codes” used in online buy and sell that are given by our interviewee.

  • Deadstock (DS)
  • “Legit bayan?”
  • Pa-VOUCH – means that you are asking if the seller is a legit seller and sells legit shoes.

We asked him if he earns in this type of hobby. He said that sometimes he earns but most of the time no because collecting is his hobby. He said that he buys shoes for him to collect or wear. He said that he collects Jordans, LeBrons and Yeezy 350 even though it is not rare or hype. He also said that he buys shoes based on his budget. Here are some of his collections that he sent:

Our last interviewee is Mr. Mirko Lunar from San Pablo City, Laguna but now he is in Italy. He stated that sneakerheads are people that are collecting shoes. Sneakerheads are more on shoes unlike hypebeasts. Hypebeasts are people who buy expensive shoes, shirts, shorts, pants and accessories. He said that the transactions are thru text or chat, after that they are going to meet, but if the seller is trusted or the seller and the buyer are far away from each other, transaction thru shipping is possible. We asked Mirko about the type of clothes that sneakerheads or hypebeast wear. He said that there are no exact type of clothes they are wearing, it is just based on what celebrities wear or what is trending worldwide. He shared some of the words that are usually used by sneakerheads.

  • Bump
  • Fugazzi
  • Hypebae
  • Bogo

We asked our interviewee, Mirko, if he earns in “buy and sell”. He said that today, he does not do buy and sell anymore but before he earns almost PHP 10,000 for every time he sells his shoes because he sells his shoes as a group, not per pair. Today, Mirko is a fan of Vans and Nike Flyknits. Although mirko is not in the Philippines, he allowed us to take a screenshot of some of his posts in instagram.

 

Introduction

sneakerhead

There is a saying that goes by: “The first thing that a person would look at, is the pair of shoes that you wear”. You can tell a lot based on what kind of shoe that you wear. In fact, there was a study that was published in the Journal of Research in Personality in 2012 which showed that 90 percent of the personality you have can be vibrated by the footwear you choose. The study would say that the person who wears a BORING-LOOKING shoe has some trouble forming relationships, aloof, and repressive. Wearers of this shoe does not really care of what an individual would say about them. There are also some who likes to wear a HIGH-FASHION type of shoe. They are often tagged with being conscientious, and more likely to be Republican. Also, wearers of this type tend to worry of their physical appearance and they consider what other people would say about them. Some people are also meticulous about their shoes even if it is worn several times it looks as if it is as good as new. It is said that, people, with well-kept shoes tend to worry about their relationships which can be prone to attachment anxiety. There are also people who have high inclination towards SNEAKERS. It is said in the study, that people who likes to wear sneakers are often extroverts and has a fun personality.

 

Sneakers, today, are more popular than ever. As we pass by the streets, go to the mall, attend some parties and casual events we would usually see the volume of people who wear sneakers. But what are sneakers? Sneakers are the type of shoes which is primarily designed to be a sports footwear for athletes. The term “sneakers” is often used in the huge part of the United States of America. In the British English language (which is spoken in the United Kingdom) the equivalent of the term “sneaker” is “trainer”. In some parts of the United States, they call sneakers as “kicks” which is a slang counterpart of that word. Due to the difference between the culture, here in the Philippines (Philippine English language) many of the people would not recognize the term sneakers; they would recognize this by using the term “rubber shoes”. The term “sneakers” is also derived from the word “sneak up” because it’s a lot quiet when stepped on the ground, compared to a hard leather shoe. Alongside, SNEAKERHEADS is the group of people or community who have high enthusiasm, inclination, or affection toward sneakers. Due to their enthusiasm with sneakers, these people tend to collect, trade, admire, and criticize sneakers as a hobby. Also, sneakerheads has the skill to distinguish a real sneaker to a fake replica. Most of the sneakerheads are knowledgeable about the history of the sneaker that they wear. Also, many would spend their time and fortunes in order to study the sneaker itself while they build their own collection. Apparently, most of the sneakerheads would make a collection of shoes that came from the faction of basketball, running, and skateboarding. A sneakerhead must have a passion, commitment and knowledge in order to be a genuine and absolute lover of sneakers.

History

Dating back to the early 1970’s, wherein there has been a great number of shoe company emerged and competed in the market. The brands that emerged and competed usually were associated with athletes to support their need in the world of sports. Some of which are the two most powerful and influential shoe companies: Nike and Adidas. Although the traditional and iconic “Converse All-Star” were originally made at the year of 1923 for the basketball players, it was in the 1970’s wherein it was worn as a casual shoe and used outside the basketball court. Hence, the Chuck Taylor All-Star became a widespread, gained popularity, became a favorite of various groups and subcultures, and of course: the image of the starting popularity of sneakers.

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It was from the street ballers of the New York City the culture of sneakerheads started. They would usually have the coolest and rarest shoes supplied by the most influential brands at that time. Nike, then, introduced a shoe that would change the history of the sneaker world; it was the Nike Air Force 1. Originally, the Air Force 1 were made and designed for basketball superstars at that time, but it was also worn by most of the people around the globe for fashion and casual wears.

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Then came the legacy shoe of Adidas: The Superstar, which was originally released as a low-top version of a volleyball shoe. It was also the first low-top basketball shoe that features an all leather and the iconic rubber shelltoe. Because of its precise technology as a non-skid and features a rubber toe protection, it became popular for most of the NCAA and NBA players; one of the notable players to ever wear this shoe was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Over the course of time, the popularity of it would go out of the court; it advanced from the sidewalks, streets, undergrounds and lately into the public.

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When Michael Jordan was drafted as the number 2 draft pick in the NBA, no one knew that he would change the epoch of sneaker history. It was on the release of the Air Jordan 1 (which Nike banned for some reasons), when the serious collection of sneakers started. Jordan started the era of making a signature shoe per players. Other shoe brands would also sign a superstar player and create a signature shoe that would also be appealing to the people. Since then, people would collect the signature shoes of the players. When Nike started to re-issue the banned Jordans, collectors started to fill in the gaps between their collection. Since then, the sneaker collection became so powerful to different cultures.

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Conclusion

As we ponder upon studying the community of sneakerheads from some of the key informants, we found out that sneakerheadsshare the same identity wherein they consider themselves as people that are fond, has knowledge and knows about the significance of a shoe. When branded as a sneakerhead it is automatic that you hoard or collect shoe because of the inclination and the satisfaction it gives you as a shoe collector. These people would share the same perspective of what a sneakerhead really is. The term hypebeast always coincide once you are branded as a sneakerhead. In the society, they tend to make this two terms equitable with each other. After the study that we had, we can conclude that there is a significant difference between hypebeasts and sneakerheads. As the informants would say, hypebeast are people who buys expensive stuff just for the hype. They have the purchasing power but does not have the right knowledge about what they buy. Also, hypebeast is not isolated only by the collection of shoes but also on other stuffs, such as clothes, hyped up accessories, and alike.

Sneakerheads today are not just into collecting shoes for their sole purpose, hence, it also became the opportunity for them to compete in the market. Sneakerheads (not all) nowadays can be considered as capitalistsbecause they mean to produce and make profit through their operations. Because of this, them as a community would usually compete for limited or rare resources of sneakers around the globe. In this part the conflict theory of Karl Marx would butt in. In line with this, the most common type of transaction for them is meeting up with the person because the want to ensure the safety of the transaction. They want to make sure that they are buying original pair sure to a legit seller. When these people are doing something like buying, there are some specific codes that only co-sneakerhead will understand. The most common word that are given to us is “deadstock”. It means that the merchandise was never been worn by the owner before it is remove form sale.

Sneakerheads are also known in their awesome outfit but we found out that they dress according to what they feel. They wear what are comfortable. They wear clothes that are trending. They wear street wears. In short, they wear anything. They do not have specific style of clothing. They wear what other people wear. This is can be explained by Symbolic Interactionism Theory. Sneakerheads earn money by selling stuff that they have, but the profit depends on the stuff they are selling. Sneakerheads do not collect the same kind of shoes, and does not only conform on what is hyped up. They collect shoes based on their preferred kind of shoes. As per observation, most of the sneakerheads were fan of basketball since they were a child. The culture of basketball helped their eyes be opened into the world of shoe collection. Some came from a family that was oriented with the culture with shoe collection, and some are developed because of the kind of community that they are into. In short, they were influenced by the society that they are rotating with. The Symbolic Interactionism Theory would support this claim of ours.