It happens just about every weekend. A sneaker releases and sells out in a matter of minutes. Soon after, sneakerheads take to their pulpit (their Twitter accounts) and lash out about why they couldn't get hands on a pair.
"Fuck Nikestore," they'll tweet, followed by a tirade about the brand's checkout process and how they're being marginalized by sneaker companies. This usual barrage of negativity that occurs within the industry is caused by sneaker hype, and the bitching about it needs to stop.
It's easy to point the finger at sneaker hype and the hypebeasts who facilitate this process for "ruining" sneakers. Sneakerheads like to differentiate themselves as the ones who are buying the sneakers because they have a personal connection to them, and everyone else just buys them to be cool. This could be true, but a purchase is a purchase. And complaining about the reason someone bought a sneaker is hypocritical.
Complaining about the reason someone bought a sneaker is hypocritical.
No one needs to know about a sneaker to buy it. There's no required password to be able to buy a pair of sneakers. (Unless they're filling out the captcha on Nikestore). People can buy sneakers just because of the way they look. And who is to judge how somehow else should spend their money?
To put it plainly: No one should be able to get mad about sneaker hype.
For starters, nearly every sneaker is hyped to some point. Yes, Air Jordans and limited releases are going to be hyped more than other sneakers—but sneaker culture, at least since the early 2000s, has always been like that. People going crazy over sneakers is nothing new. Nothing, if it's that good, is going to stay sacred forever because that's a testament to the product's validity. Great things are going to catch on in pop culture and it's just the way it works.
To some extent, we're all influenced by hype. People who are Air Jordan purists wear the sneakers because of Michael Jordan. They were hypebeasts for anything that Michael Jordan did: mainly, the sneakers he wore.
In their minds, Michael Jordan's play on the court is what made them want to dress like His Airness. (At least as far as footwear goes.) The sneakers Jordan wore on-court were great, but people were running to buy them because of Jordan's performances on the court and Nike's slick advertising campaigns. At the core of it, that's no different than a kid buying a pair of Ronnie Fieg ASICS because they read about them on a sneaker blog or saw high-quality images that were leaked slowly over Instagram. There's still someone pulling the strings to get them to buy a pair of sneakers.
There's no point of labeling someone as an unworthy purchaser of a sneaker—or for blaming a certain group for sneakers selling out too fast. The people who wore Air Jordans in the '90s and the kids who learned about them last week are in the same group of people who make sneaker hype explode.
Of course, it's easy to find someone who likes something more than another person, but that doesn't mean they deserve a sneaker more than the other guy. Claiming that other people cause the "awful" hype and ruin a sneaker drop is self-centered.
We can blame resellers—the supposed people who are fueling the rapid consumption of any sneaker that piques interest—all we want, but they're not buying up every single pair of Air Jordans on release date.
There are plenty of sneakers out there that can be purchased without lining up or keeping an eye open for a Twitter RSVP.
Jordan Brand makes way more sneakers than most people realize. Over All Star Weekend this year, 250,000 pairs of the Air Jordan "White/Infrared" VI were sold. That's way more pairs than any Concepts or Sneakersnstuff collaboration. Sure, it's not easy to get the Jordans, either. But what do consumers want Jordan Brand to do: Make 4 million pairs for every release and have them sit around until people lose all interest in the company?
If people truly wanted to "kill sneaker hype," they wouldn't care exclusively about Air Jordan releases. They'd just go to the store and buy whatever sneaker caught their eye. There are plenty of sneakers out there that can be purchased without lining up or keeping an eye open for a Twitter RSVP. If someone finds themselves disheartened with a certain sneaker, or how it is portrayed within sneaker culture, maybe it's time to alter their taste.
They should find sneakers that won't cause them to bang their head against a keyboard or chuck their iPhone 5 when Nike Store tweets they're sold out. That's what being a sneakerhead is about— getting the items that you want, not chasing down sneakers that re-sell for the highest price tag.
If you can't find sneakers that get you excited, other than those that are coveted by everyone you "despise," you need to move on. Maybe sneakers aren't for you. If you wanted to take it back before there was hype, you'd search out sneakers that no one else wore. You'd be a lot more exclusive than the 250,000 other people who wear the same sneaker.