As I sit here on this rainy day with my Mei Fun and my wireless headphones listening to Childish’s collection, I begin to wonder how we have gotten to this disgusting state as a sneaker culture. I have alluded to it all in bits and pieces before. The pricing has been addressed in the past, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. How have we gotten to this? When did sneakers become the “It” thing? Where did all this hype come from around something so minuscule in the grand scheme of life?
Not saying it was the sole cause, but urban influence in sneaker success, inspiration, development, and perpetuation is unparalleled. Talk to anyone who was around or “in the know” and they will say inner-city culture of the 80’s created a style and completely different purpose for these products. Let us not forget most, if a not all of these sneakers originated with intents to be used for athletes. Tennis shoes where taken by people who never considered picking up a racket and used to create a style in day to day life. There was also great influence from the athletes endorsing said shoes, which lead wearers to want to be like and imitate these athletes they idolized. Not to glorify it, but in the 80s drug dealers also inspired the sneaker style. Sneakerwatch recently interviewed Mayor where he spoke on a classic Fila silhouette being one of his favorites, and “At one point if you was getting money, it was a D boy shoe, when you was getting money the first thing you did was cop a Fila suit and Fila shoe”. These styles and influences traveled from street corners to the music industry by artists from these neighborhoods; ironically back to the athletes whom where also from these places; and then from those two areas over to the mainstream popular culture. I once read something that spoke on Nelly and his song “Air Force 1s” playing a significant part in the resurgence of the models sales in the early 2000s. But, even with all of this free publicity from various influences, we were never in the situation we are in now.
Most of you hypebeasts and younger sneaker fans may not remember, but sneakers didn’t always come out on Saturdays. There was a point in time where sneakers came out on Tuesdays along with albums. These midweek releases led to kids in high school leaving and skipping school to get the latest releases. That was how it was then, some would ditch school early to go get the new release and show back up at school later with the newness on their feet. This is one thing that did actually get adjusted due to obvious reasons. But even with releases being midweek and possibly less availability, you did not have they hype of sneakers you have now. In that era you could still go a few weeks after a release and buy a shoe in your local store. Now, the thought of a desired release being available weeks after it drops is a joke. Releases have pretty much become “Cop now or forever hold your peace”. So once again how did we get here?
I take you back to December 24th 2009, this is the moment my immediate circle feels changed the state of the sneaker world. The re-release of the Space Jam Jordan 11 was like the tickle me Elmo in the 1990s; and started what has become too much of the norm for most now. This shoe led people to camp out for sneakers, ushered in the involvement of those with no true interest for the product, and of course invigorated a highly profitable reseller market. I remember the year prior to the Space Jam release, the ”Countdown Pack” moving slower than it should have due to complaints of the pack being priced at $310 for both shoes. Some claim that it was the 11/12 of that pack that began the hype, but I disagree. I remember two years prior to that my friends only waking up at 4:30am to successfully purchase the “Defining Moments” pack. That pack contains what is now probably one of the most sought after and most hyped Jordan 11s to ever release. Those are the cases I tend to bring up to remind people that the Space Jams started this horrible game that we are all currently caught in.
And through this massacre of inflation, limitation, and pandemonium, the internet has been the greatest and worst part of it. Without it we wouldn’t have access to purchasing releases hundreds to thousands of miles away from us. We wouldn’t be able to hear about the guy from across the country whose local still has the shoe sitting and available. But, without the internet there wouldn’t be people from across country and out of country purchasing from your local. This is something that would also possibly increase your chances of snagging that pair. Resellers would not be able to get as much stock of a shoe, which means pricing for that market may not be as high as it is. This would also mean you have to be “in the know” about releases; you would have to actually talk to and network with places and shops to know about upcoming shoes as well.
Wow imagine that, no lines, maybe better pricing, and you could wait to go buy a release. It existed in the past, but it may be something we never see again. Every fad has an end though right? I am unsure if the trend of sneakers will end. Unlike Tamagotchi’s, Comics, Dolls, and Beanie Babies; this fad has a vast interest and much greater influence. So I figure we will continue to take this nonsense until we one day say “we’ve had it”, decide hang it up, then proceed to rock Monarchs and Crocs.