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Evolution of Sneaker Culture

Article by Katherine Pietrangelo

Instagram @kapietran

Sneaker culture is a driving force in the shoe market and plays a huge part in pop culture. The most monumental sneakers that have revolutionized modern culture include the Jeff Staple Pigeon Dunks, regarded as one of the most influential drops ever. These shoes were a main player in transforming sneaker culture from a niche hobby to a global phenomenon.

There was a very limited number of 150 pairs of Pigeon Dunks produced in 2005, which caused people to camp out waiting to get their hands on these shoes. The New York City-inspired shoe was so coveted and such a big deal that it made the front page of the New York Post the day following the release.

Image courtesy of Google

February 9, 2014 marks the day Nike shock-dropped the Yeezy 2, Red October. The continued collaboration between Nike and Kayne West was highly anticipated for many months. Kayne West, already a big name in rap, caused anticipation for his initiation into fashion and the sneaker world. With several previous false drop announcements and Kanye’s announced pairing with Adidas, the eventual drop was shocking because they were released after he had started to wear Ultraboosts and then announced his pairing with Adidas. The shock-drop was announced by Nike through a single tweet.

Image courtasy of Complex


One of the most iconic sneaker deals ever made, one which could be categorized as the shoe that kickstarted modern sneaker culture; this was none other than the deal between Nike and one of the most legendary basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan. At the time, the NBA banned the wear of the extremely popular newly released shoes, but due to the exposure that Jordan gave the brand, Nike decided to pay the pricey fine each game so he could continue to wear them.

Image courtesy of Google

One of MJ’s original pairs of Jordan 1’s that he autographed and wore during his rookie season recently sold for a whopping $560,000 in an online auction in May 2020. They were sold during the heat and press of his widely popular ESPN documentary series The Last Dance.

Somewhat Recent Downfall

As sneaker culture got more popular, it has continued to become more mainstream throughout a wider range of ages, especially in the past couple of years. From camping out and waiting in lines outside of stores like Supreme, Kith, and Flight Club, to buying bots online that will secure the desired pair, sneakerheads have gone above and beyond to get the newest and coolest drop. The pure dedication and love for the culture created a tight community that showed appreciation for the art of the shoes themselves. In recent years, the once-beloved culture has sort of lost the passion and spark that has accompanied it for so long. Reselling websites like GOAT and StockX are great places to get exclusive sneakers after the original releases, but the costs have only gotten pricier as sneaker culture becomes continuously more mainstream. One shoe, in particular, the Jordan 1, a sneaker that has always been legendary and well-respected, soared in popularity among consumers not previously a part of traditional sneaker culture. Almost any colorway that drops will be resold for at least three times its original value, which is absolutely insane. As a result of the new population and groups of people engaging with sneaker culture, it has somewhat lost the love and purpose behind buying sneakers in the first place.



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