Study examines the impact of Sneakerheads on shoe culture


BYU students react to various shoes. Sneakerhead culture impacts the shoe industry. (Tenley Hale)

Study shows that shoe culture and commerce are impacted by Sneakerheads’ passion for nostalgia and history.

A study published in Fashion and Textiles defined “sneakerheads” as “individuals who collect, trade, and/or admire sneakers.” The study added that they are also knowledgeable about the history of sneakers and passionate about nostalgic factors.

According to this study, the sneakerhead culture of buying and reselling shoes as well as seeking out rare sneakers has had a financial impact on the marketplace. The study also discovered a distinguishing attribute among all participants, nostalgia.

How to make a shoe mean something

The Nike Air Jordan 1 is a favorite of many sneaker enthusiasts. Sneakerheads are motivated largely by nostalgia. (Made in Procreate by Tenley Hale)

The study said most sneakerheads attribute their introduction to the sneaker community to the 1985 release of the Nike Air Jordan’s 1, which rose to popularity with the help of basketball superstar Michael Jordan.

“Nike has always mixed shoes and celebrities in such a successful way that it has led to so much of their success, and what I believe has led to much of the sneakerhead culture we have today,” BYU communications professor Scott Church said.

Church said that individuals are always subconsciously or consciously trying to portray things about themselves with what they wear, especially shoes.

“Sneakers are a very clear example of the power of symbols and brands for identifying who we want to be and how we want to present ourselves,” Church said. “There’s something attention-grabbing about shoes, so much so that many people will look at shoes as all they need to know about another person.”

A sense of community

This is a display of Nolan Porras’ personal shoe collection. Sneakerhead culture creates a sense of community. (Photo courtesy of Nolan Porras)

Self-proclaimed sneakerhead, Eli Jones, shared that he loves the sense of community that being a sneakerhead brings.

“I have made more friends simply through shoes than I ever thought possible,” Jones said.

Jones said that there is an air of exclusiveness that follows different pairs of shoes that can be noticed by fellow shoe lovers.

“As a fellow sneakerhead, it automatically creates an amount of respect when you see them,” Jones said.

BYU student and sneaker enthusiast Nolan Porras said sneakerhead culture is often confused for hypebeasts, those who are dedicated to acquiring fashionable items.

“For hypebeasts, the social status of wearing a $300 shoe is where the desire to buy a shoe may come from, whereas for sneakerheads the desire comes from a passion for sneakers,” Porras said.

Porras explained that sneakerheads are more invested in their love of shoes and the history of the shoes than they are in the social status associated with them.

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