Sneaker Culture is on the Rise

Alexandra Siegel

Sneakers, once a symbol of athleticism, have taken on a new purpose and transcended their primary function into a new culture of expression. You can see it anywhere; walking around campus, on your favorite influencer, or even on fashion runways. 

This new era of sneaker culture has inspired creativity and self-expression. “I love to use sneakers as a way to compliment certain aspects of both what I’m wearing and my personality,” junior Lola Hall said. 

There is a huge cultural shift in how sneakers are being worn. Now more than ever, people can define their style solely based off a pair/collection of shoes. Some even use their footwear as a color palette and template for what their outfit will look like. 

“Even before I pick an outfit for the day, I decide on the pair of shoes and base my outfit on that pair,” senior Miles Sedlin said. 

In 2020, Nike SB Dunks made a comeback after years of being known exclusively in the skateboarding world. 

Nike rewrote the SB manifesto and changed key elements of the sneaker to enhance its performance on the market: limited numbers, interesting stories, and a strict distribution exclusive to selected independent skate stores. 

In turn, this increased demand of the shoe, and now people wear the sneaker for fashion over sport. 

Senior Amelia Fowler said her favorite pair of shoes are her “Laser orange Nike SB dunks… I love the color and how they make any boring outfit so much better.” 

Another aspect of the scarcity and limited appeal is the secondary marketplace. The rapid rise of online platforms like GOAT and StockX advanced accessibility to these limited sneakers. 

Nike or Off-White may drop just a hundred pairs of a sneaker, and the demand for it will skyrocket. In return, the value of the shoe grows, and the secondary market becomes a frenzy of eager sneaker collectors. 

Through the accessibility on Instagram and the online market services, it is increasingly easier to get a pair of trendy sneakers. However, it comes at a cost. 

“I look at what’s relatively cheap and the drop. Like when the drop is happening, so I can get them for cheap and not pay what the market is,” Miles said. 

Others, like sophomore Jack Garcia, choose their next pair of sneakers “not really based around price or demand” but rather, “how cool the shoe is, and how it can help my style.” 

Off-White and Nike routinely design new sneakers, like the Nike X Off-White Low Dunks. New Balance and Casablanca collaborated to designed the MS327 sneaker. 

The contrast between the athletic companies like Adidas and Nike pair well with the patterns and colorways from designer brands like Supreme and Dior. For many sneaker-heads, sneakers are important to their social identities, and are crucial parts of forming their wardrobe. 

“Sneakers are how sneaker-heads connect,” freshman Mason Siegel said. 

They share norms, practices and even a vocabulary, such as the term “drops,” which references the release date for a shoe, and “color way,” which is the color scheme a shoe might come in. 

Around campus, you can see teachers and students rocking different types of sneakers. Lola’s favorites are “definitely [her] Scooby-Doo converse.” 

What started out as a niche community has shifted to mainstream culture thanks to the efforts of sneaker-heads to bring like-minded people together.