“Give me two pair, I need two pair,” raps Nelly in his song “Air Force Ones” which is also Nike’s number one selling sneaker to this day.
The economics of the sneaker culture is supply and demand in its simplest form. When exclusive Jordans or other sneakers retail, sneakerheads flock to malls, retail stores and online marketplaces to try and buy the shoes, frequently crashing websites in their pursuit. The limited number of shoes creates the intense demand.
After they sell out, the value of the sneakers skyrockets inversely with the amount of sneakers released, thus making the resale of sneakers a profitable business for not only sneaker boutiques like Durham’s Soletez Boutique at 4400 North Roxboro St. in Durham, but sneakerheads, also.
“I love the culture and how it’s evolving. Society takes the culture seriously like any other true art form,” said Soletez Boutique founder Turi Cason.
The sneaker culture’s evolution is ongoing in Durham’s urban society. As one may imagine, the cost is an expensive obsession, with popular shoes such as Jordan’s latest signature model retailing at $160 and rising quickly.
“Air Jordans got me into it back in 1989 and haven’t stopped since peaks and valleys but never stopped… I’m 38 today and I love sneakers, the most I paid is $500,” said collector Darren Hommell of Durham.
With brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and many more releasing or “retro-ing” (re-releasing models that have released in the past) every month, sneakers tend to resell anywhere from $200 into the thousands, depending on the popularity and exclusivity of the model. With the hefty price tag along with the “swag” connotation brought about by rappers and athletes popularizing the shoes, the sneaker culture creates its own unique demographic.
Many people claim that they got their love of sneakers at a young age; the love seems to live on years later.
“Mom bought me my first pair of Jordans in second grade and hasn’t bought me another pair since. So when I got older I bought them myself,” said collector Jaron White of Durham.
People who buy sneakers with the intentions of reselling them for more than their original retail value are considered “resellers”. Many resellers purchase sneakers for the value, or the potential value in the future.
They often buy a large quantity and sell them for a small profit to get clientele. Resellers buy certain shoes, depending on the hype, availability and demand. When there is a demand for a certain shoe, these resellers are known for paying people to stand in line and buy a pair or more of shoes. This way, they are guaranteed more pairs of sneakers to resell. But the people are in the culture for the love of the sneakers, they keep their pairs no matter that cost.
“I camped for my first shoe the Air Jordan 3 ‘Black Cement’ for five hours, bought three pairs: one for me, one for my boy, and sold one to someone in the back of the line for $40 over retail. I never did sell my pair,” said J.P. Hilliard, of Durham.
Events like Sneaker Con, Dunkxchange, Sneaker Pimps, Sneakers Over Everything give people who enjoy sneakers more than the average person the opportunity to gather and converse (no pun intended) about their passion for kicks becoming the norm around the world.
A local sneaker conference, Kulture Fest, will be held on Nov. 9 at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham showing that the culture is slowly but surely growing. Tickets can be purchased here.
The number of attendees of these events tends to grow by hundreds sometimes thousands with each new event. Some people traveled far, they have different backgrounds and many different styles, but there is one thing that makes everyone present seem like family.
It must be the sneakers!
Dixon_SneakerStoreOwner : Turi Cason, owner of Soletez Boutique, stands in front of the sneaker wall of his store. (Staff Photo by Ikendia Dixon)
Dixon_SneakerEventAttendance: Thousands of collectors of all ages attended Sneaker Con in Washington, DC. (Photo taken from Sneakernews.com)