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A Beginner's Guide To Sneakerhead Culture

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    Of all the fashion trends out there, none is more intimidating than dipping into the world of sneakers. Considering that sneaker pros have been living and breathing sneakers since before they were mass-market "trendy," there is a fine line between repping the trends and looking like a poser. When the most embarrassing thing you could do is reveal your entry-level status, lacing up a pair of cool sneaks can feel like more of a thing than just putting your shoes on.

    While there are plenty of fashionistas sporting Nike and New Balance, there's a deeper world out there that requires you understand and appreciate a little something about the history, brands, and personalities beyond "OMG, so cute!" So, how does one navigate sneaker fandom as a newbie?

    You've probably seen those mile-long lines outside of retailers when they have new releases. A devoted sneakerhead keeps tabs on new drops, monitors online forums, and maintains a collection with the dedication of a full-time job. We all have at least one friend who prefers to spend their money on a shiny, new pair of kicks more than anything else, and those die-hards who'll spend a night scrubbing away scuffs with a toothbrush instead of going out. If it's not already obvious, simply buying a pair of cool sneakers does not a sneakerhead make.

    Do we have to cancel our Friday night plans just to get in on the trend? Not really. The first step is to understand that sneakers have a long and fascinating history. Sneakers are a prime example of a trend that began in the streets and then spread to the masses — as opposed to runway trends that are spoon-fed to consumers. In the early '80s, major shoe brands began to tap into inner-city markets when they realized that young people were buying the same shoes their favorite basketball players were wearing. The scene really blew up later in the decade when it became indistinguishable from the emerging hip-hop scene. All of a sudden, sneakers' value extended beyond the court.

    For sneaker wearers, footwear became a status symbol. Wearing brands name-checked in hip-hop lyrics meant you were fresh and cared about style. One of the clearest milestones was the release of Run DMC's hit song, "My Adidas," in 1986. It highlights a time when sneakers went from utilitarian to urban chic.

    But, at the end of the day, sneakerheads buy them because they love them. They're functional, comfortable, and come with a feeling of individuality. The hype isn't always a true representation of the people within the scene, and sneaker culture doesn't have to be overwhelming or intimidating. Anyone can join with the right amount of knowledge, openness, and enthusiasm.

    With the help of a few sneaker-obsessed ladies, we've broken down what you need to know to not only get your hands on the shoes you love, but also call yourself a nascent sneakerhead. Read on to get your fix.


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