Dissecting Sneaker Culture – The Hindu

They promote freedom of expression and individuality, but what do sneaker brands actually offer?

They promote freedom of expression and individuality, but what do sneaker brands actually offer?

I’m a sneakerhead. If it sounds like a confession, an admission of guilt, that’s because it is – for various reasons, but mostly because of the space it takes up, not just physically but also mentally. What’s worse is that it is us addicts who propagate and champion their cause, not just for free, but by paying sufficient resale prices to multinational brands to be their ambassadors.

And, despite knowing all of this, I continue to scour dealer sites and portals, trying to cop a W (sneaker slang for acquiring) the next potentially valuable pair. But these are internal faults, I can correct them at any time. Meanwhile, the industry has objective flaws and it’s up to them to fix them. Here’s what needs a major overhaul from these big brands.

Pretty vintage: If I were to sum up innovation in the sneaker space, I would sadly have to point out that hand-stitched formal shoes (think Lobb, Ferragamo and Berluti) have made more headway than these so-called technological marvels. The problem is that all brands have a performance line and a lifestyle series. While the former enjoys all the benefits of R&D and innovation, the latter emphasizes the recreation of vintage styles in new colors or textures. The problem is, a shoe model from 1980 wasn’t the most comfortable then, and it certainly isn’t now. Except for a few models (Yeezy, Y3), the most popular models are nothing but a revival of something that was launched almost three decades ago.

Expensive: Speaking of pennies, the one thing that didn’t stay in the 1980s about these shoes is the price. It’s hard to justify paying triple-digit dollar value for some very basic tops. As for what happens to those prices in the second market, let’s talk about that soon.

Nike x Louis Vuitton 'Air Force 1' sneakers by Virgil Abloh

Nike x Louis Vuitton ‘Air Force 1’ Sneakers by Virgil Abloh | Photo credit: special arrangement

Inflated hygiene: The best sneakers are a lot like Rolex in that no one knows exactly how many are made per year. But it’s safe to assume that with factories based in China and 3D modeling making new molds cheaper to design, there’s certainly no shortage of shoes every season. But fullness does not create hype. So, instead, they skillfully control the supply chain, bringing it to a minimum, restocking when needed, balancing the entire chain so that the hype never dies.

Some brands: Nike, adidas, I can’t wait to see a third brand that has street cred. Sure, there will be the odd Reebok or New Balance shoe that people covet, but 99% of the sneaker community only wants to wear Nike Airs, Jordans, or Yeezys. And I’d be happy to dispute that claim, but reselling prices on apps like StockX will only prove my point. So for a whole movement based on non-conformism and questioning the system, they all essentially coalesce around the same 50 silhouettes and designs. Oh the irony.

Operation: Do you know where your sneakers are made? Most of them are somewhere in Southeast Asia, where the idea of ​​human rights is as vague as that of democracy. Sweatshops are a reality even today and we only feed this system by buying the guts that brands sell us on their generosity and kindness towards their employees.

So to sum up, here’s an industry that underpays employees, doesn’t really spend on innovation, and hoards inventory to create artificial scarcity to increase value and profits, and yet cleverly hides it all behind ideas of freedom of expression and individuality. I think fascism has a new face and is hiding in plain sight. Time to take stock and make more conscientious decisions. For now, it’s not sneaker culture, it’s cult.

This column is for anyone who gives an existential shot.

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