Timothy Wooley, Junior, Guest Columnist
Many of us wake up in the morning and put on the same shoes day after day, only straying from our trusty pair of tennis shoes when attending a formal event or playing a particular sport. When these shoes grow old and we just can’t wear them any longer, we search the internet or a sporting goods store and pick out something cool and inexpensive or buy the same pair that we’ve been wearing for years. In this case, the main considerations of the purchase are comfort, functionality, and to some degree, looks.
For some people, shoes are more of a lifestyle than a daily necessity. It’s not only important that the shoes look good and be comfortable, but that people recognize them, or they have street cred.
Online communities for buying, selling and trading shoes are fairly common on social media sites and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Although shoes found in these communities can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands, for the purposes of this article, note that I’m focusing on limited edition or designer shoes people would consider “streetwear,” as opposed to diamond-encrusted heels or sneakers previously owned by celebrities. In other words, what a “sneakerhead” (as they are often called) might be considering for their next purchase while operating on a college-student budget.
Even within this range, one can choose to drop a couple thousand dollars on shoes. These prices can come from popular brands like Nike or Adidas that are constantly coming out with limited-edition designs and collaborations with popular artists or athletes (ever heard of Yeezy’s?) People line up at stores the night before a new pair is released or prepare to reserve their pair online, like tickets to a big concert. One of the main reasons for this intense commitment is the exclusivity of the shoes. Just like buying a nice jacket or fancy dress for a formal event, owning limited edition shoes makes people feel special.
“Buying high-end sneakers could be compared to buying an exotic car,” senior Nick Angel, an avid sneaker collector, said. “You don’t need to have an expensive car, but you can if you want to. A Ferrari gives you that status symbol that a Honda Accord does not.”
Like other committed sneakerheads, Angel has a collection of his own shoes that he expands by snatching up limited online offers and attending sneaker-centered events, most notably Sneaker Con, a travelling convention that makes annual appearances in major cities like Atlanta.
Other sneakerheads like sophomore Harleyh Merritt purchase shoes because of the brand. Harleyh currently owns over 150 pairs of Vans skateboarding shoes, and she doesn’t even skateboard. As a shoe collector, she feels a connection with Vans, and chooses to continue supporting them as newer designs come out.
Personally, I would weigh both sides before making a decision. Like most college students, I couldn’t afford to make impulsive decisions and buy shoes purely for the social credibility. To me, a combination of looks, comfort, price and exclusivity all go into deciding whether or not to purchase an expensive pair of shoes. While it isn’t necessarily the deciding factor, street cred and the status some people may see in a pair of shoes can certainly make a difference. It feels good to wear shoes that I know not many people have, and makes me just as happy to have another person recognize or compliment the shoes I worked hard to buy.
Ultimately, whether or not you choose to spend an excessive amount of money on tennis shoes is up to you. It all comes down to what you value. Some people choose to spend their money on clothes, expensive food, or road trips to places they enjoy. Others can get just as much satisfaction and excitement from a pair of shoes. Whether or not you decide to get into the shoe scene yourself, know that a compliment on someone’s kicks can mean a lot. You may just make a sneakerhead’s day.