How sneakers affect campus culture


Sam Bernstein managing editor
Rinesa Kabashi staff writer
Sneakerheads aren’t a new breed. Sneakerheads, or people who collect popular sneakers from all eras, have been around since the 1990’s. The subculture of sneaker collectors grew from a small, mostly American group to an international collective. The phenomenon is well represented on campus, with just under 15 percent of students claiming to be Sneakerheads.
Basketball sneakers have existed since the early 1900s when Converse came out with their first hoop sneakers in the 1910s. Converse dominated the basketball market until the 1970s when Nike came out with the first edition of their famed Blazer model, which kickstarted their ascent to the top of the sneaker world. International popularity of basketball sneakers amplified after in 1984, when Nike came out with Michael Jordan’s first signature sneaker, the Air Jordan 1s. After that, Nike released hit after hit, with the first 13 of MJ’s signature sneakers all becoming instant classics.
“Michael Jordan has built a huge sneaker legacy,” senior Gabe Hartounian said. “Basketball shoes wouldn’t be as popular as they are today without MJ’s influence, there are so many different trends that revolve around Jordans.”
Even with Jordan Brand dominating the sneaker world, there are still plenty more famed shoes from the 1990s. The Nike Air Max collection dominated the lifestyle market in the 90s, with the 94s, 95s, 96s and 97s all being massive successes. The Air Max 97s are making a comeback in today’s market, as Sean Wotherspoon takes on the classic model took off in the sneaker world in 2018. Air Force Ones have made a resurgence in the sneaker world recently, which has been well-represented on campus. Senior Gabriella Hassid is a fan of the classic Nike shoe, and tries to be creative with her outfits when she wears her pair.
“I like to coordinate my shoes with my outfit. For example, if I decide to wear my black and red Air Force Ones, I make sure that my outfit has some red and black in it,” Hassid said. “Shoes are an essential part of an outfit and I couldn’t imagine my outfit without them.”
Other brands have had success in the sneaker world too. Adidas, who struggled in the hype department in the 90s and early 2000s, have made a major comeback in the hypebeast community in the last few years through their collaborations with rapper Kanye West. The Yeezy Boost line has brought Adidas back into the fashion mainstream, allowing Adidas to get into the hypebeast world.
Athletes aren’t the only people with influence within the sneaker world. Celebrities, from mediums like acting and modeling, have also made an impact on the popularity of brands. Brands such as Fila, Puma and Vans have a strong base in non-athletic fashion. Senior Kate Barko started wearing Fila because she saw one of her favorite celebrities, Kylie Jenner, wear white Fila shoes.
“I never thought Fila shoes were cute until I saw Kylie post a picture on Instagram with them on. It gave me inspiration on how I could style a cute outfit with those shoes, and believe it or not, they are my favorite shoes now,” Barko said.
Regardless of what brand is one’s favorite, the end goal for most who are interested in sneakers is to wear a pair of shoes that boost self-confidence. Senior Jacob Fox feels strongly about that sentiment.
“I don’t really care what other people think about my shoes, I just wear nice shoes because if I look good, I feel good,” Fox said. “I always take pride in what I wear, I wouldn’t wear anything I didn’t feel good in.”