“The sneaker game is all f—ed up now.”
I must read that sentence or something similar at least five times a day. That is 1,825 times a year. That means it may be the most popular sneaker sentiment there is.
Here is the interesting thing about that; sneakers are more popular than they have ever been. They are selling in larger numbers and at higher prices than ever before. Nike, adidas, Under Armour; the whole industry is doing absolutely phenomenal numbers – better than ever. Of course, the industry isn’t what most people mean when they say “the game.” They mean what used to be considered out of the box counter-culture: collecting, trading, rocking, reselling, limited or otherwise desirable sneakers. The thing is, that is doing better than ever too. More people than ever are “into” sneakers and the resale business has become a billion dollar industry of it’s own. I also can’t neglect to mention the growth in sneaker media, social media relevance, events, and the rise of sneaker consignment.
I am here to make the argument that “the game” is not “f—ed up” – at all.
Rather, I think what we are witnessing is an original set of sneakerheads (commonly nicknamed “OGs”) age out of “the game” – in some cases, very ungracefully.
This is not an uncommon thing in the age group to which I am referring. It is very normal for men and women 30-40 years old to begin to have a harder time connecting with the youth of the time. We (I say “we” as I am quickly approaching my 32nd birthday) aren’t “old,” we just aren’t as completely connected as we used to be. We are still largely aware of current trends, most of which are still being set by those in our age group. I am not making the argument that we have lost touch. We are very much the “influencers.” But it won’t be for long and we have to accept that.
This is not my mother thinking she is “calling Siri.” No, but we are in that awkward “everything we had, experienced, built etc. was better” stage.
This changing of the guard is again, common. Every “OG” who can remember having parents our age can remember MJ being compared to Dr. J, talks about the “way things were” despite the 1990s (our times) being historically recorded as the best economical times in American history. It is a phenomenon that strikes unexpectedly and a condition that most infected do not even realize they are experiencing. Think about it though…
- Do you unquestionably and relentlessly argue Michael Jordan over everyone?
- Do you refer to upcoming sneaker brands and models as “trash” while primarily wearing 20 year old sneakers (and their outdated tech)?
- Do you find your fashion being made fun of while you spend your time making fun of fashion?
- How do you like the music they are playing on the radio these days?
Let’s just collectively face it, so we can move forward in this article (and life) together.
Ready? 1 … 2 … 3 … I am no longer the target audience.
There. It’s okay. Look around. We dislike most of this stuff anyway, we should breathe a sense of relief that is not intended for us.
Now, here is the rough part… the “sneaker game” isn’t intended for us any longer either. It just isn’t. Sure, we can argue until we are blue in the face that we built it, that it is ours, that the “kids” should be doing “this” or want the shoes for “that” – but in the end they don’t care. The “kids” are having a blast, building their own “culture.” They are establishing a new nostalgia, making money, stunting on the ‘gram instead of the block, letting gems go to clearance, calling Bel-Air 5s “grails”… and loving every second of it.
I’m not telling you not to rock or collect kicks. Personally, I don’t think I will ever stop. Instead, I’m suggesting we get off of the court. Find your new spot in the game, become a coach, or better – an owner. You have an advantage, you know the game better than anyone; utilize your experience, leverage the new audience.
Most importantly do not fight for relevancy. The way it was is not “the right way” because you think it is. If anything, realize that the hobby exists in part because of you. Take pride in that. Enjoy the fact that our underground is the new mainstream. Sit back and enjoy your piece of it, pass it on, watch it grow.