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Sneakerhead is a proper term to refer to a person who collects or admires sneakers, often to elaborate extremes. Sneakerheads have a large, multifaceted online fandom.


General sneaker fandom came to popularity along with the general fashion associated with hip hop, but many sources often pinpoint the release of Nike's first edition of the Air Jordan sneaker, in 1985, as the beginning of sneaker collecting.[1] This shoe was produced originally for Michael Jordan, and when they were released to the public they sold well, and continuing partnerships with athletes and other celebrities has given sneaker culture.[2] In 1986, Run DMC released the song "My Adidas," an homage to the brand the group favored as part of their regular style, cementing the link between hip hop and sneaker fandom.

According to Mental Floss, some estimates said that by the early 1990s, one in every 12 people in America owned a pair of Air Jordans. Nike worked hard to release more versions of the shoe so that people could collect different types, and many other brands attempted to imitate Nike's success by working with celebrities, athletes, and artists to release high-concept, limited edition sneakers.[6]


While the term sneakerhead was in occasional use throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it rose to prominence in the early 2000s, when sneaker collecting came back into style and brands began reissuing retro 1980s sneakers. According to a 2004 article in the New York Times, the relaunch of the sneaker trend originated in Lower Manhattan, but was also immediately popular online.[3] An early and popular online forum for sneakerheads was NikeTalk, which was launched in August of 2000, and had over 23,000 users by 2003.[4][5]

Various editions of various sneakers can fetch thousands of dollars on eBay and other auction sites, and Nike and other brands release limited runs to ensure that collections are high-value. Several times in the history of sneaker collecting, riots have broken out at shops set to sell rare or limited edition sneakers; often a new shoe release can inspire fans to camp out overnight outside of stores set to have it for sale, like Supreme in New York City, which is well known for carrying the newest, most desirable rare sneakers.[6][7]

Online Presence

Sneakerheads have a variety of websites where they trade news about sneakers, including (in order of member size) Sole Collector (over 402,000 members), SneakerFreaker (over 211,000 members), NikeTalk (over 130,000 members), and the Hypebeast sneaker section. Forums remain an active way to communicate, where news and shoes are often discussed and traded. In addition, many hip hop and basketball news sites have a tag or section for sneaker news.[10]

Sneakerheads also maintain a presence on other social media sites, forming closed groups on Facebook, often centralized around a specific locality, for discussion and trading; many of the groups in larger metropolitan areas have thousands of members.[8] The subreddit /r/sneakers has over 53,000 readers, and other subreddits, including /r/kicksmarket and /r/sneakerdeals, specifically for buying and selling, have several thousand more readers.[9] Popular sneaker-themed Tumblrs include kicksoncards, airville, and kickzzondeck, but there are hundreds of different tumblrs devoted to sneaker collecting or exhibiting personal collections.[11][12][13]

Sneakers have had a long-standing influence on hip hop fashion and music, with many songs explicitly devoted to the love of shoes, often in overlap with basketball fandom. Many celebrity basketball players and hip hop artists have created custom shoes named after them, notably the Air Yeezy, which was created in partnership with Kanye West, and the Air Jordan 10 OVO with Drake. In addition, there have been several exhibitions of sneakers as art objects, including "White Dunk: Evolution of an Icon," a show devoted to artist takes on the Nike Dunk shoe, which toured to Paris, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, in 2004,[14] and "The Rise of Sneaker Culture", a historical retrospective shown at the Brooklyn Museum in 2015.[15]

Sneaker Fetish

Sneaker-wearing women have inspired a fetish, often referred to as "Chicks in Kicks" or "Girls in Kicks." The fetish usually features a scantily-clad or nude woman wearing collectible sneakers. These photos are shared online via the subreddit /r/sneakersgonewild[16] or with the hashtag "#ChicksinKicks."[17] It is not to be confused with the #SneakerGirls hashtag, which is often just female sneakerheads exhibiting their sneaker collections.[18]

What Are Those?

What Are Those? is a video remix and parody series stemming from a short clip of a man loudly asking a police officer β€œWhat are those?” while panning to his black work boots. The phrase is a reference to a manner of disrespect for a sneakerhead.

Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz

Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz, sometimes referred to as "Tiptoeing in My Jordans," is a 2014 hip hop song written and performed by Houston, Texas rapper Riff Raff. On Vine, the titular chorus of the song inspired a series of video clips in which people or animals are shown literally dancing on their tip toes.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Sneaker Collecting

[2] Wikipedia – Air Jordan

[3] New York Times – The Rebirth of the New York Sneakerhead

[4] The Seattle Post Intelligencer – 'Sneakerheads' live, breathe and e-mail about shoes

[5] NikeTalk

[6] Mental Floss – A Brief History of Sneaker Collecting

[7] Sneakernews – Tag: Supreme

[8] Facebook – Sneakerhead Groups

[9] Reddit – /r/sneakers

[10] Complex – Sneakers

[11] Tumblr – Search: Sneakerheads

[12] Tumblr – Search: Sneakers

[13] Tumblr – Search: Kicks

[14] White Dunk

[15] Brooklyn Museum – Rise of Sneaker Culture

[16] Reddit – /r/sneakersgonewild

[17] Instagram – #ChicksinKicks

[18] Instagram – #Sneakergirl

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