Sneaker Collecting: What Is It?

Multiple+Nike+Air+Jordans

Hermes Rivera

Multiple Nike Air Jordans

Jynx Betancourt, Sports & Lit-Art editor

Sneaker collecting is an (expensive) hobby that consists of the buying and collecting of high end shoes such as Yeezys, Jordans, Nikes, Balenciagas, and others. As sneaker collecting continues to steadily grow mainstream, more and more people feel inspired to join the hobby. Sneaker collecting trends are becoming popular across the internet with the growth of people investing in the hobby, but this poses a question to those who are new to the scene: what is sneaker collecting?
The sneaker collecting scene was born around the 1970s as the hip-hop movement of New York City was coming up with unique street styles. In 1985 when Nike’s Air Jordans were introduced, style enthusiasts went crazy. “Even at a retail price back then of $125, stores couldn’t keep the shoes on the shelf, and Jordans quickly became a sought-after status symbol,” writes Mental Floss Magazine. With the large popularity of the shoes, style enthusiasts no longer felt like they had unique styles, so they went to lengths to seek out unique sneakers that were not on the market. MentalFloss remarks, “sneakerheads sometimes traveled hundreds of miles [for these shoes].” Once sneaker companies realized the lengths that sneaker collectors would go, they started to produce a wider range of styles with most of them being limited in stock; so sneakerheads could build unique collections.
Since this, “the last decade has seen a huge shift in how sneakers are worn,” notes The Conversation. With the quickly rising trend of collecting sneakers, there has been a significant rise in the sale of them. Popular online sneaker resale market Stock X is “currently valued at US$2 billion…[and] is expected to triple over the next five years,” writes Tatler Magazine. One would not expect shoes to be more than at least $90, but this is quickly proven wrong. In 2019, “the Jordan 5 Retro Trophy Room University Red (F&F), went for an average of more than US$5,200,” remarks Tatler.
When looking at the “most popular sneakers” page on the website, prices range from US$100-300. Why would someone spend this much on a shoe? Ann Jacobe, a sneaker collector with over 500 pairs in her collection, explains her passion for the hobby in an interview with CNN. Jacobe says, “I hold sneakers in high regard much like a sculpture or a painting,” she continues, “sometimes it’s how [a pair] makes me swoon the first time I see them; sometimes it’s the story behind the sneakers and how it resonates with my values.” Jacobe says that she considers buying shoes on whether they “resonate with [her] and bring [her] joy” rather than if they are profitable or not. Derek Morrison, the senior director for Stock X, relates, “people tend to devote themselves to values, or narratives, or themes that transcend individual brands. [Sneakers can] make us feel connected to brands, people and cultural moments.”