Just For Kicks

The 411 On The Sneaker Craze

While some people were holding their breath for a white Christmas, thousands of others were breathing out white, frigid air-smoke while waiting in line to purchase Michael Jordan’s latest sneaker; his November 1995 re-release, the Air Jordan Retro Concord 11s.

Certainly, no one had any idea that his first black-and-red Air Jordan 1 release 25-years-ago would catapult into a $1 billion dollar a year franchise. Nor did anyone think it would cause mass hysteria in shopping malls.

Recently, however, Jordan’s are not the only cause of long lines, partial hypothermia with frost bitten fingers, or saved lunch money.  This new sneaker fixation has become second nature on every coast.

Maurice Simpkins, a sales associate at DTLR sneaker store remembers the chaos at the crack-of-dawn at Prince’s George Plaza Mall: the south beach Nike Air Foamposites were released.

“Jordan’s don’t really get sold too often at my store, unless they are retro’s. Customers are into buying New Balance and Foamposites,” Simpkins said.  “The line was literally out of the door.”

Simpkins, who considers himself a minor sneaker connoisseur, prefers to buy his kicks at boutiques that specialize in rare sneakers. He recently purchased the Air Jordan Retro Cement 4’s, but his top seed are his white and red Allen Iverson Reebok Question Mid.

“Sneakers are usually most popular when they are rare, when the color way is unique, and when everybody knows the release date in advance,” he said.

Self-proclaimed sneaker head, Alec Williams has a sneaker collection of about 65 strong. Of the 65, 58 pairs are Air Jordan’s, and four pairs of Nike Foamposites.

Williams, a part-time kick collector, and full-time business student at Howard University has spent at least $10,000 dollars on his still growing collection. The majority of his collection, however, was acquired during high school.

He reminisced on the birth of his love for sneakers. “My brother worked at Footaction for three years and he got me my first pair of hot sneakers. The Chi-town Air Force Ones and the box said, “Save for Tim’s little brother.”

Malls across America have all experienced the Saturday morning rush of sneaker fiends, but there lies no exclusivity. A sneaker connoisseur consists of more than Foot Locker monthly releases.

Non-mainstream sneaker wearers search for their rare, hot commodity items at boutiques like Kixclusive in New York City.  Kixclusive, in the SoHo area to be exact, specializes in rare and dead stock [sneakers that are no longer sold in stores and out of production] sneakers.

“Kixclusive specializes in hard to find shoes that cannot be found at the average show retail outlet,” said Lauren Young, Kixclusive representative.  “Yes, we sell general release Jordan’s, Lebrons, Kobe’s and Nike basketball [shoes], but you won’t have to wait in a line for three days. Plus we keep stock in hot releases so you can find them at Kixclusive months and even years later.”

Another trend that has seized the nation is flipping shoes: essentially buying and reselling. Kixclusive is also one of the only shoe stores that buys and sells exclusive shoes.

“If you have a pair of brand new, dead stock shoes, and you need to sell them fast, we are the only store in NYC that pays cash on the spot. By doing this, we are able to expand our inventory and help out our customers at the same time,” said Young.

And although sneakers are being purchased at retail for resell, this doesn’t mean the resell prices are wallet friendly.

“I had the black Foamposites for a week and sold them for $450 dollars. I sold them because I was just in a phase where I was flipping sneakers,” said Williams.

So, when the clock struck midnight on February 24, members of the sneaker cult was either glued to their computer praying the server didn’t crash, or impatiently waiting on line at their nearest House of Hoops sneaker store awaiting the release of the Galaxy Foamposites.

And to think, the majority of the people anticipating this shoe is buying for resell, not to wear. At retail price of $220 dollars, that’s peanuts compared to the standard resell price of about $1000 according to Ebay.com.

The release got so hectic that House of Hoops sneaker store in PG Plaza mall had to delay their release because it was chaos outside of the store on the original date of the sneaker release.

Other retailers sold out in minutes, limiting the purchase to one shoe per person.

Kixclusive representatives, however contests the correlation between a shoe being “hot” with it costing an arm and a leg.

“Shoe collecting isn’t about the cost of the shoe, it’s about the rarity and hype surrounding it,” Young said.