Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sneakers: The New Pokemon Cards

Does anyone remember when pokemon cards were all the rage? I remember paying exurbherent amounts of money for little pieces of cardboard. Obviously the shinier the card was, the more "value" it had. Although I never played the actual trading card game, collecting every Charizard, or Blastoise, of special edition Pikachu was on top of my spending list. I would savor every second of opening that booster pack. Fold the corner, slightly tear, and never peek for a holographic. Those were my steps. I would then sit on my bed and lay out all of my cards and hope to see that slight glimmer of a holographic. Afterwards, into the little plastic sleeves these cards would go never to be taken out again.
It seems that I have found a new obsession. My friend once proclaimed that collecting sneakers is a present day form of collecting pokemon cards. I whole heartedly agree. When I purchase a new pair of sneakers, I follow the similar steps mentioned above. I take the box out of the bag, hold my breath, open the box and admire the shoe. I take them out and slowly examine them for any flaws, or nicks that might have occurred. I then slowly and carefully take out the sole inserts, and carefully slip them on. After a brief moment of enjoyment, into the box again they go only to be taken out for wear when weather permits.
Hans D.C. had the sneaker collecting phenomenon explained to the T. It has grown from a modest group of self proclaimed sneakerheads, to an international cultural event. Sneakerheads, as explained in the article are now found everywhere. This is due in large part to the increase in technology and advancements in global communications. Sneakerheads now congregate on forums, and other arenas to debate, discuss, predict, and transact sneakers. Thousands of transactions take place a day. And yes, most sneakerheads follow the same ritual that I do. At almost any given moment in any country, some sneakerhead is smiling at their most recent purchase.
However interesting Hans D.C. article might be, I feel that he fails to discuss the economic ventures that most sneakerheads involve themselves in. For the most part, those who do not wear their new shoes are usually trying to keep them in good condition. This way, they can get the most resale value. Because of this, most sneaker prices are hyped out of proportion. For example, Tiffany Sb Dunks, one of the most sought after sneakers in the world, retailed for about $80 during their original release in 2005. Now, five years later, a brand new or "deadstock" pair can sell for up to 600 dollars! Below is a picture of my personal pair.

Sneaker collecting has sprouted into an entire subculture of its own. For example, the language and rhetoric associated with sneaker collecting is a puzzle in itself. Sneaker forums are filled with abbreviations, slang terms, and nick names for sneakers. When I first got involved, I was overwhelmed by the various descriptions used to described sneakers. It took me a while to finally catch on to terms such as "deadstock", "quickstrike", what "jb", "am", and "retro" meant. It was quite confusing. I found a thread on the sneaker forum that I frequently visit that explains all of the terms necessary to sneakers.

I found it especially interesting how Hans D.C. brought up how sneakers are being used as a sort of currency. Sneaker trading is also another frequent transaction in the market. Most people that are into sneaker collecting are from working class families. As stated in the article, many are in high school, still in college, or have just joined the working force. Because of this, there is not always enough money to purchase all the new releases along with your grails. Sneakerheads will trade sneakers for sneakers that are the same value. In many instances, multiple pairs will be traded for a single pair just to match its value or hype. I myself have traded sneakers multiple times. Sneakers will sometimes be traded for things aside from shoes. Most often it is clothes, but there are instances where sneakers will be traded for cell phones, computers, hats, among other things. For example, I once traded a pair of shoes for a fixed gear bike!
The compact challenge is going well. I no longer have the sensation to really purchase anything. To be honest, actually realizing what the whole point of this challenge was really changed my perspective. Essentially, as a nation we need to cut back on our consumption. It not only hurts the environment, but our economy as well.

Chris Quach
Week # 7 Blog

Works Cited
Hans D.C. "Sneaker Freakers" Class Reader

Outside Source

Picture Link:
Pokemon Picture :

TIffany Sb Dunk Picture: personal collection

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