"How many shoes do you own?" quickly became as annoying as "You got me on the new Yeezys, right?" I love sneakers and I was fortunate enough to turn that passion into a career (I’m a content manager at Finish Line).
I grew up being a big sneaker nerd and thankfully my parents had the resources to let me grab just about anything I wanted. What 14-year-old doesn’t need a home, away, summer league, and an outdoor pair, in his basketball collection—every year? Ever since I could remember, my closet has been stacked with the latest releases from basketball to turf trainers.
It's nice to break out some obscure pair once in a while, some maybe you haven’t seen in years, but what’s the point?
I’m 32 now. I’m still at a point where I can wear what I want, but fast approaching the age where blowing a paycheck on a pair of grails seems fiscally irresponsible. I feel embarrassed when I have to answer the body count question and tell people I own hundreds of pairs of sneakers—250 to be approximate.
And "stunting" every single pair on social media started to make me feel like the kind of finance bro who throws up gratuitous ‘Grams of his fancy watch or whatever latest high-end toy finance bros enjoy.
But I’m working on it.
This summer I came to the conclusion that owning every sneaker that I wanted seemed foolish and just downright immature. I'd only traveled outside the country once as of last year and barely left the Midwest aside from the occasional work trip. My friend, and fellow sneakerhead, played a huge part in my decision to stop buying sneakers this year, and instead to travel the world. I gave a self-imposed limit of 10 pairs of sneakers for 2015, and as of this writing my drug-like sneaker addiction has slowed tremendously, only grabbing five pairs thus far and seeing a lot more that life has to offer.
After I made a conscious choice of what I "needed," I realized my sneaker collection was the epitome of Pareto's Principle—also known as the 80/20 rule. Meaning 80% of what I wear comes from 20% of what I own—a.k.a. I wear the same few sneakers over and over. I also gather this is true for most sneakerheads. I do just fine with my Yeezys, a few Jordan 1s, and Ronnie Fieg collabs.
It's nice to break out some obscure pair once in a while, some maybe you haven’t seen in years, but what’s the point? I used to write features clowning on people who were thirsting for social media likes and I realized I was just as bad, if not worse than them. I’m not impervious to this notion just yet, but at the very least I’m more self-aware than I ever was.
A few weeks ago I went through my sneaker vault and started picking out pairs I couldn’t part with and wore on a regular basis, quickly realizing that the original number cut down quicker than an NFL training camp. I went from about 250 pairs to 50 without much second-guessing, although there were some internal battles about keeping that 17th pair of all-red sneakers, but for the most part it was like shedding weight.
I'm a firm believer that if someone is kind enough to seed you a pair or gift you something, you shouldn't monetize off that. Anything in that category has or will be donated to charitable causes like the Salvation Army or the homeless.
When I wake up in the morning my decisions on what to put on my feet are easier, my outfits are cleaner, and I have a few extra dollars to vacation to Italy later this year. I'm not taking shots at anyone with 500+ pairs—to some a collection like that may have deeper meaning. But I'd rather experience more outside of the sneaker game while I still can than blow my disposable income on the same things over and over.
If you can afford it and take care of yourself and your loved ones then you’re doing just fine. But there's a lot more out there I've yet to cross off my bucket list that doesn't have a Nike Air logo on it.
Brandon Edler is a content manager and creative strategist at Finish Line. You can follow him on Twitter here.