Sneaker Culture: An attempt to understand and explain the hype

Just some basics, fellas!

Abiya Manzoor

Abiya Manzoor

Fashion and Features Editor

Sneakers, once considered an athletic shoe are now considered an investment. Something that was once just a commodity has given birth to a culture of its own.

Research by sociologist Yuniya Kawamura on sneakers explains the rise of the ‘phenomenon’ in three stages; the first being the 1970/1980s hip hop music giving rise to underground sneaker culture. The second phase and probably the most visible reason being the Nike Air Jordans launch in the 1980’s giving a boom to the idea of commodification of sneakers and third the power of social media affecting buying activity as well as contributing to the reselling practice.

Fashion has long been and continues to be a symbol of status and wealth. Gone are the days when people will judge you by the model of your watch, now people measure your status with the kind of sneakers you’re wearing. Many popular collaborations only release a few exclusive pieces worldwide which makes people line up in front of stores before the new ‘drop’ releases.

Sneakers also contribute in creating a personal brand, it’s a point of conversation, a symbolization of ‘cool’. If you get into the business insights, you’ll realize that it’s an entire business with the resale purchases peaking at the moment.

The question arises, in a world where the need for sustainable fashion is on an all time high, are we contributing to the the viscous cycle of following trends by becoming a sneakerhead (Sneakerheads are defined as individuals who collect, trade, and/or admire sneakers)? A plausible rebuttal for this question is that sneakers are a functional, flexible item which can last for a long time making you buy less and actually contributing to your personal style. However, if one joins the rat race for pure material intentions and to feed on the idea of becoming ‘cool’ then we really have no positive outcome coming out of this.

Do you own a few pairs yourself? Have some insights on the Sneaker Culture? Add to our discussion by commenting here.