A few days ago, I did a Skype interview with YouTube Star and sneaker collector, Sohrab Mejhidi about the current sneaker scene. Athletic shoes have outgrown their street wear origin and have become a necessary fashion accessory.
“People wait in long lines just to get their hands on a pair of LeBron James’ or Jordans,” says Mejhidi.
In the past few years, there has been an ongoing consumer paradigm shift in attitudes toward sneakers. Sports One Source reported, in 2013, Nike Jordan sales generated $2.25 million in the U.S retail market alone.
“Michael Jordan is a huge icon, he was doing amazing things on the court and Nike was brilliant with the marketing,” said 27-year-old sneaker collector, Shahin Shamshiri.
During the 90’s, Michael Jordan was an iconic basketball player. At the time Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls and led his team to six national championships. Nike collaborated with him to launch a signature line of Air Jordan basketball shoes and apparel with a logo of the “Jumpman”. In 1985, Jordan was fined the amount of $5,000 because he wore red and black Jordans, the basketball shoes didn’t meet with the NBA’s uniform regulations. However, Jordan continued wearing these banned sneakers, while Nike paid for the fines.
“You have kids in the sneaker game, young as 12, who are getting Jordan shoes, even though they don’t really have a connection when Michael was playing on the court,” said sneaker enthusiast and event host Big Philly.
Urban culture consultant and founder of Toronto Loves Kicks, (a youth driven organization that focuses on sneaker culture in Toronto) Dion Walcott says there are two kinds of sneaker enthusiasts. One, enjoys the appearance of the sneaker, this includes anything from color, style, texture and the history of the shoe. While the latter sneaker head buys sneakers strictly based on the hype surrounding a particular shoe. The word “sneaker head” is often used among youth to label a person who is a sneaker enthusiast.
In recent years there has been an increase of sneaker consumption across the globe. Global information company NDP group reports athletic shoes grew by 12 percent, from $1.63 billion in 2013 to $1.83 billion in 2014. Nike is the number one seller of basketball shoes, their Air Jordan brand controls 97% of the US shoe market, one of every two shoes sold in America are Air Jordans.
22-year-old sneaker collector, Shabir Karim, says Nike Air Jordan’s are considered to be one of the “hottest” sneakers on the market. Critiques have argued,that Air Jordan’s have become one of the most iconic basketball footwear and is primarily responsible for the birth of the sneaker collecting culture.