The Rise of Sneaker Culture

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

A New Lease On Life

THE ADVENTURE

By Helania Hefner

On any given day Thomas Dugan wakes up and starts his day at his home in Detroit, Michigan, with his wife. At 60 years old he enjoys the simple things in life like deer wandering into his backyard and taking time to talk to students over the phone as he sips on his morning coffee. While Dugan’s days now consist of Bible study groups and grading papers, that wasn’t always the case. 

Throughout his life, he has worn many hats that have shaped him into the man he has become today, kind and eager to teach kids the ways of the world. His life is a reminder to all that through the bad, good will prevail. 

Where Dugan is today, is a reflection of his life choices and the path that he would describe as God’s plan. Teaching OU online courses in criminal justice and business ethics is not where many would have thought Dugan would end up. 

Born in raised in Brooklyn, New York, one might think he comes across as loud and abrupt, the “fogetaboutit” attitude, but his journey through life has softened him. 

Dugan served 21 years in the Air Force when he retired as a major at 38 with a slew of awards and a new name, Max. The nickname seemed to stick after a friend joked that he looked like the actor Jason Robards who starred in Max Dugan Returns. 

“The name just happened to stick,” said Dugan. “Most people don’t even know my real name is Thomas.” 

While he enjoyed his time flying, he couldn’t sit still for long. “I retired one day and joined the police academy the next,” said Dugan. With an adventure for life and an eagerness to be on the streets helping others, being a cop seemed like a good fit for Dugan. On November 3, 1999, that belief would change. 

“The 20 year anniversary is coming up,” exclaimed Dugan as if talking about an achievement. But in reality, Nov. 3, will mark 20 years since Dugan was shot in the left hand while on duty as a police officer in Tulsa, Okla. 

Even though the wound has healed, the emotional scars never will. The memory of the night is etched in his mind forever leaving pangs of survivor’s guilt. 

“Everything became slow motion,” said Dugan. “I dove to my left into a brick wall and the bullet went through my left hand.” Today, Dugan suffers from nerve damage unable to feel hot and cold sensations, however, he knows things could have been much worse. 

At just 40 Dugan had gained a new perspective on life, a perspective that led him to ask life’s hard questions.

“Survivors guilt is a very real thing,” said Dugan. “I would sit and ask myself why did I live when other officers die.”

After the shooting Dugan found that his role in life had been altered. 

With his excitement for travel and adventure, it’s no surprise that Dugan decided to bicycle across the country from Oregon to New Hampshire. But that wasn’t the only adventure in store for Dugan. While he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, he found a wife. 

“Max took me by surprise really,” said Mrs. Dugan. “But biking some three thousand miles with someone gives you the chance to get to know them on a very personal level.” 

Mrs. Dugan said that Max amazes her everyday with his zest for life and his ability to turn any situation into something positive. 

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

Where one chapter ended another began for Dugan so he took his talents and landed in Norman, Oklahoma. He has been teaching at OU for 12 years and has no plans on stopping anytime soon. While teaching is his new passion, he started at OU as a flying instructor, something he has always loved. 

After the shooting, Dugan found God again, admitting that he hadn’t always been the best Christian. Today, Dugan is an active Christian filling his week with community Bible studies among other events.

While life has led him from a police officer to professor, Dugan feels that there are important similarities between both professions. He expressed that it’s all about the connections you make. A quote that he often turned to as both teacher and an officer is, “there but for the Grace of God.”

Even though his days aren’t spent chasing down criminals and helping citizens on the streets, he does his best to leave an impact on his students. Being an online teacher, he asks that his students call him over the phone in order to better make a connection with them. 

Known for his creative and passionate teaching, students seem to love Dugan even though they never get the chance to meet him. A previous student of Dugan’s expressed her appreciation for his teaching style and passion for helping students.

“He really does care,” said Van Pelt. “Most of the time you never even know the name of your online professor but Max made an effort to make connections with all of the students.” 

Being a police officers and being a professor might be wildly different professions but Dugan insists that at the root of it, they aren’t all that different. They both strive to help others, whether it be students or citizens on the street, Dugan says that it’s all about making small changes that can impact others to do great things. 

THE NEXT CHAPTER

With no plans to retire soon Dugan has set his sights on traveling with his wife and continuing to teach students. He plans to travel to New Zealand and Australia and hopes to continue to learn more about the world and grow in his faith. 

A theme in Dugans life is service. A theme that has taken countless years for him to understand but when you are given a second chance at life Dugan says there isn’t much else he wanted to do but serve the people around him. 

While the struggles of PTSD will never fully go away, Dugan has learned to appreciate every aspect of life knowing that each day is precious, each day is a gift and each day is a chance to positively inspire someone else. 

Lorenzo Rocchi: A Passion for Fashion

By Helania Hefner

While most people wake up each morning and grab the first clean t-shirt in the drawer and head out for the morning, Lorenzo Rocchi is not one of them. He is calculated when it comes to his wardrobe.  

As a freshman in college, Rocchi was determined to change the way students perceived fashion at OU. On the eighth floor of Adams Hall, surrounded by friends, Rocchi, and his then-roommate Jack Herdejurgen sat and planned what is now known on campus as the Fashion Society. 

For Rocchi, the clothes he wore were not always a priority. In fact, as he remembers it, most of the time he would wake up and blindly pick a pair of pants and shirt. 

For most of his life, Rocchi has moved all around the world. From Texas, Alabama, London and back to Alabama, Rocchi says that his love of traveling has greatly inspired the clothes and fashion he enjoys.

“I have moved more times than I can remember,” said Rocchi. “Everywhere I have gone I see new styles and clothes that are unique to that place.” 

It wasn’t until the end of his junior year in high school that Rocchi started to care about his outfit choices. He started to appreciate other people’s style and what it meant to find your own style and express yourself in doing so. 

Rocchi conveyed that clothes started to give him newfound confidence he had previously lacked throughout highschool. He now had a creative outlet and would slowly start to build his own personal style.

The boy that once wore a dirty orange t-shirt paired with green basketball shorts and flip flops is not the same man you would see on campus today. Rocchi expressed that his personal style is now based more on “streetwear.” Rocchi is now effortless chic everywhere he goes, donning brands like Supreme and Balenciaga in all black head-to-toe. 

Coming to OU, Rocchi started working towards a major in business, which took up a big portion of his time. Still, he was determined to join a student organization that would allow him to express his creative side. 

“Freshman year I was pretty disappointed to find out there was no fashion club or a club of any kind for students to come together and talk creatively about clothes, so I wanted to change that,” said Rocchi. 

Rocchi wanted a place where students had a creative outlet to learn about fashion and develop their own personal style, something he wished he had in high school. 

Best friend, freshman year roommate and vice president Jack Herdejurgen remembers the process of getting the Fashion Society up and running. 

It really started out of nowhere,” said Herdejurgen. “Lorenzo mentioned he wanted to start a fashion club and I wasn’t super into clothes but I wanted to help him.” 

Herdejurgen said that while starting the fashion society wasn’t difficult, spreading the word and getting students to join was. 

According to Herdejurgen, the Fashion Society was up and running by the second semester of their freshman year. To promote the club, Rocchi and Herdejurgen posted all over social media in an effort to gain members. 

Over the past two years, the Fashion Society has steadily grown now having close to 20 members who meet every two weeks to discuss the latest trends, popular designers and personal interests. 

OU senior, Taylor Trefger, has been a member of the Fashion Society for about a year and a half now. 

“The Fashion Society is a great organization to meet students who enjoy fashion,” said Trefger. “I didn’t expect to learn as much as I have.” 

Trefger also mentioned her surprise at how many men have joined the Fashion Society, something she says is proof that fashion is for everyone. 

The club tries to invite guest speakers from around the Norman area to give insight into the inner workings of the fashion world. 

Recently, a local costume designer came to meet with the organization and talk about sewing and the process that goes into making garments. 

Rocchi is currently studying in Japan, which he said is helping him learn how different cultures interpret fashion. Rocchi’s travels have helped him evolve his own style and hopes to return to OU and share his knowledge with the fashion society. 

“Seeing how the students dress for class here in Japan is wildly different than at OU,” said Rocchi. “They dress with a purpose, not just a sweatshirt and shorts.”

While he might be abroad, Rocchi is still connected to the Fashion Society. He often sends messages in the club group text updating them on life in Japan, as well as any new trends he sees while walking to class. 

“I try to stay as connected as possible,” said Rocchi. “I like to keep the club updated with fashion trends I see in Japan and I also like to know what’s going on back home. 

The Fashion Society would not be where it is today without the help of one university professor. 

Motoko Miura, a current Japanese teacher, helps oversee the club.  

“Lorenzo was always a very polite and disciplined student so when he asked me to oversee his club, I said of course,” said professor Miura.

While professor Miura oversees the fashion society, he attends only a few meetings. His biggest role is turning in paperwork to ensure the organization can continue to run on campus. 

When asked what’s next for the Fashion Society, Rocchi said that he hopes to gain more visibility on campus so that the club can continue to grow and hopefully one day put on events around campus. 

What started as an idea in the dorms has now turned into a successful student organization. With Rocchi set to graduate in 2021, he hopes to pass the club down to someone who loves fashion as much as he, so that the club can continue to thrive and promote creativity for many years to come. 

As for Rocchi, he is confident fashion will always play a major role in life. Postgrad Rocchi hopes to attend fashion school and one day work in apparel designing clothes and of course, looking good while doing so.

Q&A: Abby Huckelbury

By:Helaina Hefner

OU junior, Abby Huckelbury has navigated her way through school using her faith in God and her determination to be a photojournalist. Huckelbury admitted that while it hasn’t always been easy, she knows that it will be worth it one day when she is able to tell stories through her photos.

Take me through a day in the life of Abby, do you stick to certain schedules or does each day look different? 

Well, each day is sort of different. I mean my classes are always the same but my day really just depends on who I hang out with. 

Explain to me a little bit about who you are today.

This is kinda a hard question! I think I’m someone who is extremely loyal and trustworthy. I feel like I’m bragging on myself (laughs) I’m also super honest, which is both good and bad because being honest can make me confrontational. Like I’m not afraid to say something if something is bothering me you know? I don’t know if you’ve ever done the enneagram test but I’m an 8, which is like the “challenger” or whatever so. Umm, so I know this can sound like “cheesy” or like “ya okay,” but I honestly find my identity in Christ. Like my faith is something that is really important to me in my life, and so I really try to remind myself to be christlike and like reflect God’s love towards people. 

What events in your life lead you to become a journalism major?

When I was around the age of 9 I asked for a “fancy camera” for Christmas, and that was kinda the first step into this whole endeavor. I just started taking pictures everywhere, like around the neighborhood and like holidays with my family. Then I joined the yearbook staff in middle school and high school and I just really found my passion for photography and I’ve just always known that that’s what I want to do in life is like photojournalism. Like throw me in the jungle with my camera and let me do my thing. 

Has there ever been a time that you thought about changing your major? Why or why not?

I actually thought about changing schools at one point. I love OU but I never want to write, like I don’t like it and the only thing I wanna do is photography. I wanna tell stories with pictures, not words. So then I started to think like, do I need to go to an art school? But at the end of the day, the foundation of telling stories, even with pictures, is journalism so.

Is there anyone in the field of photojournalism that inspires you? What about them do you look up to?

I think Paul Nicklen is pretty cool. His pictures are always really inspiring. I guess I just look up to him because he’s so passionate. Like to him, photography is more of a tool for wildlife conservation and he works really hard to make sure his voice is heard. 

Who is paul Nicklen, what kind of pictures does he take? 

Paul is a wildlife photographer for National Geographic. He mainly shoots like polar bears and penguins and he does a lot of conservation work. Originally I think he was a marine biologist but then he found out that he could have a bigger impact on the world as a photographer. 

What is something that inspires you for the future of journalism?

I think its really inspiring that with just one picture, or one story, you can impact and really make a difference in the world.

What do you hope to be doing in 5-10 years from now? 

I want to be taking pictures and traveling the world. I’m so passionate about wildlife photography and like this big beautiful world that we live in and I just want to help document and preserve it while I still can. So ya, somewhere in a jungle with absolutely nothing but my camera and God’s creatures would be nice. 

Be Careful What You Wish For

By: Helaina Hefner

At 5-years-old I thought I had the world figured out. I knew that pink Starbursts were better than red, that “Tom and Jerry” was superior to any other cartoon and that being an only child was better than anything else.

Because I was born to two parents in their early 20s, there was never a question about whether they would have another child I was all they could handle at that point in their lives. But by the time I was close to my third birthday, that story had changed. 

At 3 my now single mom had recently met soon-to-be husband number two. Lucky me. 

At some point in my fifth year of life, I decided being an only child was getting boring…I mean you can only play Barbies and dress up by yourself for so long. 

I was now on a mission for a sibling. Specifically for a little brother. 

After our weekly dinner sitting on the patio of Patrizios, where they always made my Shirley Temple just right, I asked my mom for a penny to throw into the fountain tucked in the corner of the restaurant. 

I took the penny in my small hands and walked eagerly toward the fountain as waiters barely sidestepped me. The fountain was nothing special, a small figurine placed in the middle with water surrounding its delicate body. I had made hundreds of wishes before, but this one was by far the most important. 

Looking at the penny and then down at the murky water, I squeezed my eyes so tight all other senses faded. Before I gave it another thought I threw the penny into the water while repeating to myself;

“I wish for a little brother, I wish for a little brother, PLEASE.” 

I skipped back to the table where my parents sipped their glasses of wine leisurely and asked what I had wished for. 

“A baby brother,” I said plainly as if they should have known.  

In between sips of wine, they exchanged rather bemused looks, trying to decide if I was being serious.

I was.

Three weeks before my sixth birthday a blue-eyed curly blonde boy was born. I wasn’t allowed in the delivery room but I paraded myself around the hospital donning a huge grin and a pink, “I’m a big sister,” sticker with a teddy bear on it that the nurse had given me. 

Once home, I quickly realized that being a big sister was a lot of work. I no longer was the priority and I didn’t even get to play with him because he was always crying about one thing or another, which seems like a typical baby, but was just the beginning for my family.  

Tucking me into bed one night my mom could tell I was feeling neglected. I was now about nine and my brother three. Pulling the covers up to my chin she leaned down and whispered, 

“You will always be my first baby and you will always be loved.”

The words danced in my mind and tugged at my heart. She was right I had been feeling left out, my brother needed a lot of attention between his various speech and sensory therapy sessions and not the mention incessant tantrums that took away from me. I was jealous. I couldn’t understand why he needed all the attention. 

At 10-years-old I thought I had the world figured out. I knew that math would never be my friend, that purple was better than blue and despite getting my penny-fountain wish- knew that having a little brother was not what I thought it would be. 

Sure I now had someone to play with, but our ideas of playing were drastically different. I now felt more alone than I had being an only child. 

As time passed, husband number two changed to ex-husband and my baby brother started to grow on me.

For a long time it was hard for me to understand why my brother needed so much extra time and care. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned of his severe sensory and processing disorder that made loud noises unbearable and itchy shirts a nightmare. 

The wish I had wanted so badly to come true changed my life, I was blessed with constant, unwavering love. Our friendship didn’t come easy and it’s still not perfect but over the years my little brother became the person I looked up to most in my life. 

When most people seemed to slip away over time, he never left my side. 

I often found myself, and still do, coming to him in times of need. He might be younger but his old soul brings me comfort. 

Throughout growing up I hadn’t stopped to realize that the little boy with blue eyes and curly blonde hair born just three weeks before my sixth birthday had been teaching me what unconditional love was. Teaching me patience, kindness and acceptance. 

At 20-years old I don’t have the world figured out. But I know that tea is better than coffee, that nights are better than mornings and I especially know how lucky I am to have a baby brother.