Some things are really hard to change
A few days back, I came across the article of Complex sneakers associate editor Matt Welty about respect in sneaker culture. In his editorial piece, he goes talking about how the culture nowadays is about flexing the latest Off-White kicks paired with Supreme clothing and other hype merch—all for the ‘gram.
I kind of agree on the part when Welty said that sneakerheads both young and old “spent way too much money on shoes in their lifetime”. Back with my first job where I was barely making Php 15k a month, I literally spend almost the entire amount every month just to get the latest pair of Jordans, leaving little to savings. It was a costly thing, but I thought it was cool because I get to flex those retro Jordans in the office (for context: this was an era where flexing via Instagram is not yet a thing).
Things got more interesting when Welty talked about being passionate about shoes. “You don’t need to know everything about shoes to be considered a sneakerhead”, Welty elaborated in his editorial piece. To an extent, this actually holds true: while I have been into sneakers since I was in grade school, I share the same passion for sneakers with those who recently got into sneakers and those who have been into sneakers since Michael Jordan was still playing for the Chicago Bulls.
The problem, however, with the sneaker culture nowadays is fragmentation. Admittedly speaking, I’m not exactly friends with some of the sneakerheads in the local scene for a variety of reasons: it can range from differing views on reselling to the knowledge (or lack of) on sneakers and their history. It is really hard to resolve these kinds of issues within the sneakerhead community, but realistically speaking we all share the same passion for shoes.
Amidst all the passion for sneakers, the biggest irony of it—as Welty pointed out—is that we “buy” our way into sneaker culture. Go to any social media channel or any sneaker event, and you’ll notice that everyone is showing off their most expensive kicks and rarely you see people showcasing their beaters. Heck, sneakerheads are very conscious about the wear and tear of their prized kicks—with some investing serious dough on restoring them to their original glory.
Regardless of if you can afford the latest Off-White pair or just a pair of Filas (they actually look good; check out Carlo’s quick review of the Luminance and Ray), or whether you have a good knowledge of sneaker history or not, the most important part of the culture is that you love sneakers, and that alone should give you enough respect in the community. While hype sneakers do get the views and likes on media sites like this one, I personally hope that all sneakers—regardless of brand, model, condition—get all the same love from the community.