Sneaker Culture's Bread-&-Butter
1996. I remember begging, and I mean begging my mom to buy me Iverson’s Reebok Question sneakers. In 1997, I did that again for the Answer. I got both. But it started far before I even got my first pair of $100 shoes. I guess it was by watching my Dad clean his Jordan’s with a toothbrush in the bathroom week in and week out, and see them lined up in the closet – Jordan VI, VII, and VIII. By his caretaking, I knew that they were special but I was not sure why. I just followed his lead and quickly resembled his example of what looked like having really cool sneakers when he played ball and wanting to take care of them. I describe them as just “really cool” because that is likely the only thought I had at that time, I was 8 years old. I’m not going to lie and say that I did a bunch of research at the library on the fabrics used, what kind of lacing system they had, or the history of Iverson and the similarities and differences that carried over into the design of the Question from the Jordan’s he wore at Georgetown. The Question was basically all ready designed even prior to Iverson signing with Reebok anyway. Iverson had an attitude and was fast – that’s the extent of what kind of basketball player I was at that time and thought that like how Jordans gave you wings my Iverson’s would give me his flair.
That’s how it starts right? Back in the days before the internet, bloggers, the term “sneakerhead”, there was good old fashion collectors like any other trade - cars, watches, jewelry, coins, baseball cards, whatever. You had to go out of your way to find out information on whatever you were collecting. The internet has given us now the access to become instant insiders. You can find out what’s cool and trending and become an aficionado. But you can’t fool us. Businesses need people like this to survive. I call them the bread and butter or cash cow hype consumers. Take a look at any business or designer. The mass market is your bread and butter – you need these hype consumers.
About half my designs are controlled fantasy, 15 percent are total madness and the rest are bread-and-butter designs. -Manolo Blahnik
So do these people necessarily have a great story that attracted them to whatever they want to collect? Probably not. There is a good chance they just saw it in Complex, or Instagram and decided to hop on the bandwagon. It’s fine. Just recognize your place in the world and know that most of this will blow over eventually. We need them, so designers and brands can pay bills and spend 15% of their time on the stuff you really want.