Last week we posted 10 Reasons The Sneaker Game Is Better Than Ever and it caused a bit of controversy. We were aware people were going to disagree with our stance—it’s the nature of lists. The biggest argument against it has been the rise of resellers, which has led in turn to complications getting “limited releases," and even general release Air Jordan retros. We agree, this is a legitimate issue—but we really need to think about who it is we’re pointing the finger at.
Over the past couple of years, the sneaker game has changed drastically, more so than in any other time period. The prime reason has been the rise of social media, which has also made trends come and go faster than ever. While social media can be a great tool to stay updated and build connections, it also builds ridiculous amounts of hype around releases both big and small. In a society where people confuse social daps and pounds with actual wealth, having the latest and greatest heat is everything. Not having the “Gold Medal Pack” Jordans on your Instagram feed by the end of this Saturday will somehow make people failures in sneaker culture. As CorgiShoe, one of the sneaker game’s most respected resellers, pointed out to me “People act like buying a shoe is a talent and skill.” The only true talent needed is being smart enough to enter your credit card information into a box or using the successful RSVP systems being implemented by more and more sneaker retailers.
In the early ‘90s, which many people still consider to be the golden era of the sneaker, everything was about the connection of the shoe to the athlete people were cheering for night after night. Now kids that never saw Michael Jordan play a single game feel the need to cop every colorway of every model that Jordan Brand decides to drop—and that it somehow makes them a “sneakerhead.” We watch celebrities hit the streets in these shoes and want to emulate their actions, so thirsty to feel more important than we truly are—all because of a sneaker. Being educated and informed about the history of a shoe and respecting its influence on the culture makes someone a sneaker connoisseur, which is far more respected than any self-proclaimed “sneakerhead.” You might as well just throw that terminology out right now—it's corny and usually implicates the exact opposite. The ability to be different and find your own lane is far more impressive than having the same rubber and leather as everyone else.
When people can start walking away from a shoe that they missed out on instead of paying double retail just days after the release, resellers will stop copping extra pairs.
Which brings us to the plague of resellers. We are all to blame—everyone that is a part of the machine that drives sneakers and the hype. The sneaker companies for making every shoe that matters seem so limited, the blogs for gassing up every shoe like it’s the best thing that happened to sneakers since the OG Air Jordan 1, consumers for acting crazy every Saturday when three shoes drop that will likely be forgotten by next month, and the resellers who vulture around a release and grab up a dozen pairs they never had any intention of putting on their feet. You can’t point the finger at one party in this equation, but things will only change when we the buyers come to the conclusion that we’re the ones driving the price up. It's really that simple.
When people can start walking away from a shoe that they missed out on instead of paying double retail just days after the release, resellers will stop copping extra pairs. And really, there’s no reason to rush blindly into a purchase. How many times have stores restocked on a "limited release" days after you or a friend spent $300+ for a $160 shoe? Be patient, if it is meant to be it will be. (Of course, this doesn't always hold true—in some cases where a shoe is truly unique and truly limited, like the Air Yeezy II, you just have to suck it up and take out a second mortgage.) There is no statute of limitations for looking fresh in a pair of kicks—dope shoes will prevail no matter what the year is, just check the lineup of heat from the '90s still getting love today. The suggested retail price is there for a reason, and if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that sneaker companies hear us when we say we need a sneaker in the wild. Whether it is retro shoes from the last few decades or the Air MAG, the demand has been met. Their objective is to cater to the true fans beyond the pop culture phenomenon. It doesn't take a Harvard graduate to recognize we all want the things that are extremely difficult to get. And if these companies started mass-producing everything, the same people who jumped on the bandwagon recently would go back to collecting Pokemon cards or whatever they were spending their money on in 2010.
I have not purchased one pair of Jordans in 2012, not because I get them for free as writer or I don't think think they are amazing—it's because it's just too much stress and it's lost a lot of its fun and honesty. We can keep lying to ourselves and and put the problem on someone else, but it's us—all of us. I look forward to the responses and replies to this piece as others give their theories on the resolution to the problem of the rampant reselling in the sneaker game. But the Mighty Mos Def said it best, “Why did one straw break the camel's back? Here's the secret: the million other straws underneath it.”