One night I was having a conversation with my boy JP, and we were talking about the state of the sneaker and fashion cultures. In the midst of this conversation, we talked about how the two cultures are becoming seemingly interchangeable from the perspective of what makes a sneakerhead and a hypebeast. Now, I have spoken on these topics ad nauseam, so you already know my stance on the two: they aren’t the same thing, they never will be.
But, while we know what a hypebeast generally looks like, a sneakerhead has the advantage in being more versatile aesthetically. The hypebeast is easy to find, they always have the trending, new fast fashion with the expensive price tags and designer labels. While a sneaker can be a hypebeast, and vice-versa, we have to be careful to not group them together like we have ignorantly done so over the last 5 years. But again, I’ve spoken on that ad nauseam, so I will not go over that comparison again.
So what does a sneakerhead look like? A sneakerhead can take on many identities. Take me, for example.
What do you mean, J?
Well, in my profession, writing code and developing software, you don’t expect someone to walk in to work with Concords, 2 days after release. Some guys in my field probably can’t tell you what Flight Club is. In fact, in my field, a lot of guys are either the brogrammers that are doing push ups in between sprints and working out before and after work. Others are Rick Rubin-looking guys that look like they just finished climbing Yosemite. And then you have me, a guy- sneakers notwithstanding- that wears pants from SuperDry with a Sergio Tacchini sweatshirt. If you took one good look at me, not knowing who I am or what I do, you probably wouldn’t take me for a sneakerhead by any means. But I am. Even more impressive if you are under the age of 40 and you know what Sergio Tacchini is.
Here’s another case. A friend of mine, a future doctor, is currently a scribe at a hospital. Now, you can imagine, most people in a hospital are wearing scrubs of some sort, she is no different. Now, how many people do you know in a hospital to intentionally pull up to work showing up the doctors in some Huaraches or M2K Teknos? These weren’t just some shoes she thought would be decent for the hospital, you can go to anywhere else just to pick up some satisfactory shoes for the hospital floor. And in a place where most people are wearing slip-on Skechers or the likes, her shoes are sure to garner a little more attention than others, for those that pay attention to it. If you pulled up to the urgent care and saw her walking around in those, you’d definitely pay attention and wonder if it’s just pure coincidence she pulled up with some heat to the office. It isn’t.
Last example: An upperclassman from my college helps run one of these new wave fitness studios down here in Los Angeles. Now, this guy usually, as you can imagine, is wearing fitness gear, or clothes that seem a little more sporty. And while a lot of people in the fitness industry do tend to have some really nice sporty sneakers on them (because, you know, fitness), my man likes to bring out some real heat. Your average guy is wearing UltraBoost, he has the Parleys. The next man is wearing VaporMax, he has Acronyms. And while most fitness people are in the sports store or sneaker store anyway (again, because, you know, fitness), my man isn’t just pulling up in Champ’s Sports picking up his because it’ll work well on that cardio session. My man knows exactly where he is getting his fire.
I could go on and on, but the point is this here: A sneakerhead doesn’t always come donned in all the latest and hottest fashion. At the same time, a sneakerhead isn’t just walking around in some hoodie and skinny jeans with a snapback like others might think. And think about it: most sneakerheads don’t focus heavy on the latest fashion that doesn’t go on feet. Do we pay attention to it? Of course. You have to have a decent wardrobe to go with the kicks. But in situations where we may not be able to don the threads we like, (like at work, for many of us), it’s not an issue because we can still probably and very much likely rock we like and care about most: the sneakers. We might not look like sneakerheads, but we’re here. In fact, we’re everywhere.