By Helaina Hefner

The days of simple footwear are over, but this probably isn’t news to you. 

Now more than ever people are jumping at the chance to find the newest and coolest shoes, but not just any shoes. Specifically sneakers. 

Not the old New Balances your dad pulls from the back of his closet. But designer sneakers, sneakers that cost more than some people’s rent. 

The days of throwing on an old pair of sneakers are over. Once invented for athletics, sneakers have now become the status symbol of street style. 

This revamp in style has prompted younger generations to spend an excessive amount of time online and in stores hunting for the rarest and trendiest sneakers on the market in an attempt to stock their closest and of course, show off.

With any big craze, there is the select elite, also known as sneakerheads, who go above and beyond, scouting for the best of the best sneakers. As is the case for 22-year-old Paxton Lewis. Foregoing college, Lewis has worked hard to prove that success isn’t determined by a college degree.

A passion that started in 2017 has now grown into a sneaker collection surpassing 200 pairs and a dream job of selling and trading shoes. 

While this didn’t happen overnight, Lewis prides himself on where his collection is today. 

Attending conventions all across the South, Lewis earns a living selling sneakers from his humble inventory of 400 sneakers. 

“It sounds ridiculous,” said Lewis. “I know 400 seems like a lot but you would be surprised how quickly they sell.”  

The inventory Lewis boasts sits tucked away neatly organized by size and style in a storage unit he rents. 

With the help of online retailers and fellow sneakerheads, Lewis is able to easily find and purchase certain sneakers that he then flips for a profit.

While it can sometimes be tricky to get your hands on the latest sneakers, a new store in OKC is making the hunt easier. 

Kicklahoma, a sneaker and apparel boutique, recently opened a store in Penn Square Mall where various sneakers are readily accessible. 

The brand also holds an annual convention in Tulsa where sellers are able to set up booths for the thousands of buyers that attend. 

The convention was successful in its second year gathering over 1,500 people eager to buy, sell and trade the newest sneakers on the market. 

But the hunt for sneakers is not limited to major cities. Locally, in Norman, fanatics can visit Vault 405 to find on-trend sneakers and clothes. A hidden gem that all locals should take advantage of. 

But how and when did the whole sneaker craze even start you might be asking, well all with a little help from hip hop culture. 

Twenty-one-year-old finance major Brent Houser, class of 2021, appreciates the rise of sneaker culture and attributes its success to a few things. 

“With the influx of rap influence growing and current fashion trends leaning toward comfort and high fashion it makes sense that sneakers are becoming so popular,” said Houser. 

It’s no wonder that some of the hardest sneakers to snag are currently rapper Travis Scott’s collab with the infamous sneaker brand Nike. The shoes resale for a staggering price of up to $1,500, some might say a small price to pay to obtain the coveted shoes. 

      photo courtesy of complex.com

Other notable rappers with sneaker collabs include Jay-Z, Drake and Kanye West.

West’s clothing brand Yeezy arguably spearheaded the rise of sneaker culture with his unique take on sneakers. 

The YeezyBoost 750 hit the market in 2015 launching the sneaker frenzy. Nearly 5 years later the brand has taken on a life of its own, having amassed a cult-like following. 

For Guinness Record holder Jordy Geller, shoes are a way of life, an outlet a religion.

Geller at one point compiled a collection of 2,504 sneakers, all Nike. 

And while the classic athletic sneaker brands have been in the shoe game for years, as sneaker culture continues to grow designer brands have followed suit.

Well known names such as Gucci, Givenchy and Chanel have recently broken into the sneaker market replicating those of Nike, Adidas and more. 

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Such high fashion brands have taken sneakers to another level opening the door for a wider consumer market. Now sneakers are not only seen by the average college student and sneakerhead but also on the runway in New York, Paris and Milan. 

While such high fashion brands are known for their expensive clothing, in many cases the more athletic brands like Nike and Adidas produce more expensive sneakers. The high cost of such sneakers is accredited to the fact that for many of the sneaker releases there is a limited amount available, compared to designer brands that restock their sneakers regularly. 

Regardless of price, more often than not these highly regarded sneakers are worn in everyday life. 

With the rise of street style sneakers have become a symbol of creative expression. Although expensive, sometimes rare and hard to find sneakers are now more than ever worn by a diverse group of people.

At one point sneakers were confined to athletes and primarily men, but in the few years that sneakers have become popular the market has widened significantly. 

It’s also important to note that this rise in sneaker culture is not confined to America. The phenomenon is seen globally and even influences how American consumers style their sneakers.  

Every style trend has it’s ups and downs, but sneakers don’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon. The versatile shoe has taken over the recent fashion scene and has taken center stage in major fashion shows. 

It’s hard to say what will come next in the sneaker world. For now, it seems that both athletic and high fashion brands will continue to design new sneakers for the masses.

If you’re looking to get your hands on your own fashionable sneakers, you can visit the following websites:

https://stockx.com/

https://www.stadiumgoods.com/

https://www.ssense.com/en-us

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