Opinion // Sneakers Just Aren’t as Exciting as they Used to Be
Something’s gotta give .
I’m almost done with sneakers. For something so beautiful, they’re evolving into something very, very ugly.
Way before hashtags — hell, even before cell phones — when Cross Colors and Kriss Kross were still a thing, I would head on down to the local sneaker store, excited to see if any new drops had rolling in. I didn’t know what was expected to release (we rarely got Eastbay-like catalogues here in Australia), I didn’t have four or so months heads up and I didn’t have the daily sponsored messages from celebrities and influencers and shoved down my throat.
That all-week excitement often lead to disappointment, because growing up in Australia meant that we really didn’t get much in terms of the good stuff. But on the odd occasion, you’d walk in to the store and see something that would completely blow your mind. If you couldn’t afford it then and there, for the entire week following, your fascination would lead to obsession, using only your memory to recall it’s colours and design. Holding on to the hope that it’d be still there, waiting for you next weekend. The discovery, the chase, the anticipation, the disappointment; It’s what made sneakers fun.
Now, it’s just . . . not.
Today we’re not only spoilt for choice, but we’re also living in an instantaneous Information Age. Over the space of 25 years, I’ve gone from discovering one new pair of sneakers — two if I’m lucky — a week, to now, where I’m overloaded with at least five or six per day. But it’s not only the sheer volume of releases thats changed, it’s the way we buy them, too. The process of discovery to purchase has shifted from a week long affair to an instant event — even if you can’t afford them, there’s buy now and pay later options that make every cop easy and instant. You don’t even have to put on pants to pickup a pair.
With more sneaker releases than ever and the means to discover, decide and purchase within seconds, the experience has become meaningless. If you can have anything you want instantly, where’s the fun in that?
But we really don’t get everything we want these days, do we? — the brands make sure of that.
For the most part of the 90s, if you wanted a sneaker, you’d almost always get it, but YOU we had to work hard to get it. If you had to save, you saved. If you missed out, it’s usually because you spent all your money on McDonalds and SEGA games (which means you didn’t really want the sneaker enough to begin with) not because things sold out before you got the chance to buy it. The decision was in our hands.
But these days, it’s completely flipped. Limited release and collaboration quantities don’t match the overwhelming market demand, resulting in millions of hard L’s every weekend. f you do miss out, you’re now forced to pay (at least) 2-3x retail thanks to greedy resellers with bots who have no interest in sneakers other than using them to turn a profit. And if you’re still one of the few who rocks their kicks, you face being rolled for your sneakers at any time
That’s not how I remember sneakers. And its not how I want them to be.
But I’m not optimistic for change. In fact, I’ve come to accept that the state of sneakers is no longer enjoyable. Which is why my catch up with my ex-sneaerkhead friend this week was so significant. His post-sneakerhead outlook on life was invigorating. And that life is starting to sound a lot more enjoyable. (You can read that article here)
Perhaps I’m getting grumpy old man on things. Because this story is transferable to anything from my youth — movies and video games included. Perhaps I’m just salty, but I’m more fed up with an industry, which I’ve supported for decades, not supporting us back. But it is, after all a business. And there’s no loyalty when it comes to business.