When the Hype Dies
In the last few years, it seems that sneaker culture has exploded. This in itself isn’t a bad thing – it’s exciting being a part of something that you can relate to with others and share stories of how you snagged that favourite pick-up. The biggest downside, arguably, being the increase in resellers, and hype and exclusiveness driving up the price of resold sneakers. For someone who aims to collect and wear the pairs I’ve collected, it becomes extremely hard to “score a W” at a release – and, being an Asics fanatic and living outside of Europe or New York (not to mention being a size US 12), it becomes nearly impossible to land some of my favourite shoes on their initial release.
Now, this hype and exclusivity that drives up reselling has a flip side. Hype – a word we’re all very familiar with by now – is not always a bad thing. Sometimes the hype that defines a sneaker is warranted – it’s the design, the quality, the story behind it. It’s exciting connecting over that exclusive pair, being noticed for it, being proud. There’s a feeling that comes with wearing something for the first time – unDS-ing that 1 of ___ pair of limited sneakers that sold out in under 4 minutes, feeling those premium materials, that colorway – it’s a trophy on your feet. It’s a feeling that all sneakerheads know and that many of us live for. This isn’t necessarily due to the hype surrounding the shoe; it’s some of those factors that contribute to hype – passion, quality, design, exclusivity – that all play a part in this feeling.
Sometimes, let’s admit it – the hype just isn’t warranted. Sure, a virtually universally-loved musician endorsed/wore/designed the shoe, but if it’s ugly, it’s ugly. But this doesn’t seem to matter. A pair of Big-Bird-yellow zebra Yeezys can still have huge resell prices, simply because it’s the most limited V2 to date. Other pairs still will retail for insane prices, simply because of brand, and still manage to increase on the resell market. The limited nature of a shoe doesn’t always reflect how high it resells, but hype and resell do seem to reflect one another. When hype and exclusivity come into play, that’s when you see resell values in the thousands. I would argue that, sometimes, these values are warranted – sometimes a shoe is just that good, and the quality and design of the shoe validate the hype.
One example is the Adidas NMD. I remember the moment I first saw the NMD, and this was when I started to pay attention to what Adidas was up to. This was a shoe that referenced past models, but was still something completely new. Not having Adidas much on my radar in 2015, I slept on the first release, and suddenly it’s 2016 and this shoe is everywhere, in some great colourways, a few great collabs, and release after release of new colours. It’s a shoe that made an impression. At first, the best releases of the NMD were hard to get without lining up, but after a while, and several drops and re-drops, the shoe loses it punch. But for me, the OG colours are still my favourite, and with resell prices close to the $1,000 mark, it’s a shoe that I’ve given up hope on attaining. Until Adidas announces the re-release of the black OG NMD. I put in for a few raffles, and land a pair in my size. Naturally, this re-release killed the resell value of these sneakers, and in the next few months, this value will drop to essentially retail. The hype slowly dies. The shoe can still be great, but the hype is dead.
And I find myself asking, What does this mean for me? I’m still a fan of the shoe, right?
I live in Vancouver, Canada, where Nike and Adidas reign (as they do in the sneaker world anyway). But I’m mainly a fan of the “other brands.” Which means if I wear my limited Asics on a sunny day off, they might not turn too many heads. So wearing a pair of limited Adidas is something different, but now these “limited” sneakers have become essentially just another general release. The hype around them isn’t close to what it once was. I find myself reassessing whether or not I really like them, whether or not I will keep them. I try to remember that first time I saw them. Did I fall in love then? Or was it the hype that got to me?
I’m using the NMD as an example, but with the amount of hype over the several releases this past year, it’s inevitable that this is just one shoe of many which will experience this same hype-death.
But it doesn’t matter.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Hype is very real. But it also isn’t. Hype will fade, but passion counts. The connections you make count. Wearing a coveted pair – wearing that grail is an exhilarating feeling. It’s a feeling that all sneakerheads know well. It’s what makes the culture – it’s not the hype. You don’t do what you love because others approve, because some celebrity told you to, because the advertising happened to be great – you do it because you love it.
So next time you buy a pair, be glad – wear it proud – but also ask yourself: is it because of a love for the shoe, a passion for collecting and experiencing that sneaker, or are you influenced by the hype surrounding the product? Is it love that drives you? Or is it hype?