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3 Sneakerhead Lessons Applicable To Life

First, let’s explain what a “sneakerhead” is to those who may not be hip to it. According to trusty Urban Dictionary:

sneakerhead
noun
1. A person who collects limited, rare, OG, or flat out exclusive kicks. Usually the collection consists of Jordans or Dunks.
2. A person with background knowledge of certain sneakers.
“Yo, that cat always be rockin’ fresh sneaks. Gotta be a sneakerhead.”

And now you know! As I’ve explained in my previous post, “7 Post Grad Lessons I’ve Learned From Moving Across The Country”, I used to be a sneakerhead. Enough that my first and current job is with a sneaker retailer.

As a kid, I was obsessed with stories (and curious as hell about every and anything) so it was inevitable that sneakers would draw me in like a hipster to a coffee shop. Each model had a tale to tell; Who designed it? What was the inspiration? Who was it for? Hell, the very same silhouette can yield another story if it’s a different color.

That was how I learned my Roman NumeralsHow I got interested in cars, classic or sport. How a foundational love of great storytelling and subsequently, advertising, got paved years before I knew one could make a living doing that.

Despite all that, I “retired” out of the shoe game when I got to college. It was four years of Wallabees, flip-flops, oxfords, and boots. Like my collection that sat in the back of a closet, my shoe love was still there, just untouched.

And thanks to a few super passionate and talented people in the industry, that love is out of the closet again. Kind of like me. Sorry, I had to *Kanye shrug*.

Below are three lessons that sneaker love has taught me about life in general.

1) Buy what you like, not what others like

I was never into the whole bright, neon color trend so I stopped trying to hop on that bandwagon. The style that has always been the most natural to me is neutral, subtle colors mixed in with different textures and layers. There’s more joy in buying and wearing the kicks I truly like and that manifests into confidence whenever I step outside my door. Don’t get me wrong, trendy may be memorable but fashionable is timeless.

Look at people like A$AP RockyKanyeVashtie, and Chloë Sevigny. These people are respected for their style because they own it. Each one of them rocks a style that is all them. And it’s always fashionable before it’s trendy.

2) Rock what you buy, don’t just take pictures of it

We’ve all been there. You decide to UNDS (laymen terms: wear something for the first time) a fresh pair and somebody takes a step on them. You die a little on the inside as you freak out like in this classic “Do The Right Thing” scene where Buggin’ Out’s fresh white cement Air Jordan 4 gets mega scuffed by a passerby:

It’s easier and safer to just take pictures of that new pick up or old school heat. Toss it up on Instagram and get some flex points. No worries about scuffs, scrapes or steps.

But doesn’t that defeat the purpose? If you follow #1 then you bought your shoes because you like them so invest in their nostalgic value. There’s no excuse with miracle makers like Jason Markk and Force Fields. Create memories with your sneaks by wearing them, not by letting them sit in the box.

The same goes for life; don’t imitate it out of fear you could make a few scuffs.

3) Have either diversity or depth

I used to only buy Jordans and SBs, occasionally some vintage Nikes, and I imagine that’s the route most young sneakerheads take. As I got older, I started to recognize the cultural relevance and revere the history of other shoe brands like adidas, Reebok, Converse, Asics, and even Pro Keds.

That epiphany of sorts helped me understand that in life, you get recognition for doing one thing really, really well or being able to do a few things pretty well, but mediocre city never made anybody’s name known.

No need to fret though if you’re not doing a single one of these things. Sneakers may be life to some but I treat sneakers like I do life; embracing the scuffs and not taking it too seriously.