The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 71 — What is a sneakerhead in 2020?

It's all about access.

Good morning, fam! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you for spending a bit of your Friday morning with me. I truly, truly appreciate it as always.

The three men involved in the execution of Ahmaud Arbery have been indicted on nine counts, including felony murder. This is a small win worthy of celebrating, but there is still more work to do. We still need convictions. Hopefully, we get them.

With that news out of the way, let’s dive right in.

Sneakers have an accessibility problem

(Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash)

When you think about red lining and the systematic cut off of certain people from certain things, it generally has to do with things like grocery stores or good gyms or needed social services. 

You’d probably never think of sneakers. I know I certainly didn’t. But that wasn’t until I read this piece from Revolt’s Jazerai Allen-Lord

In it, she talks about how easy it is to gain access today into a sneaker culture that was once a deep subculture. Today, it’s very much considered mainstream — in ways that people couldn’t even fathom 5 or 10 years ago. 

The numbers tell it all. Business is booming in the sneaker industry. 

This boom is because of the digital era that we live in — sneakers are more accessible than ever. We don’t have to camp in line anymore. Now? You just need a phone and a good credit card. You could have shoes in seconds just sitting on the couch.

But it’s not that simple, right? Sure, everyone gets access to the same shoes. But everybody’s chance to grab them isn’t the same. Because sneaker companies intentionally cut stock on their hottest products, only certain people have a chance of getting them.

  • It’s the folks who bot that are more likely to be able to buy the shoes at retail. The people without them have to get lucky.

  • And it’s the folks with extra cash on hand who can go to the secondary market and pay double or triple the value of a sneaker at retail. Or they could even pay up to thousands of dollars for a bot to buy goods at retail down the line.

And those are the folks who are the sneakerheads of 2020. The people with most access and tools available to cop online. It’s not as simple as just waking up on time and getting a good spot in line anymore.

There’s no question that today’s system is better in theory — it’s just not one made for everyone. As Allen-Lord writes, sneakers have become a status symbol in this day and age. And that status is reserved mostly for people who are affluent and white.

Is it the originators of the subculture in the urban communities that the sneaker industry was built upon? How can it be when we know presently that sneakers are regarded as a status symbol, adjacent to the themes of wealth and hierarchy? And when discussing wealth in America, the disparity in the black-white wealth gap has to be mentioned. 

That’s a salient point. What’s really jarring here is the realization that the wealth gaps and the class disparities are so present and so heavy that they’ve even infiltrated their way into something as simple as sneakers. Really think about that for a second.

And, if that’s present in an industry driven by something as inconsequential as a pair of shoes, think about what that looks like with the important things. That’s, uh, not great.

Look, there’s a place in this culture for us all. But we have to share it. There should never be a time where the people who made the culture popular can’t even buy their favorite shoes for any reason other than “they don’t make them like they used to back in the day.”

As things stand? That’s the case. And if we’re being honest, that probably isn’t changing anytime soon.

Complex still has work to do

(Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash)

You know how your parents used to always tell you that if you didn’t have anything good or useful to say, you probably shouldn’t say anything at all? That’s where we are with Complex.

The company issued a statement on Thursday addressing the claims made by Tiffany Wines that we discussed earlier in the week. To say that it wasn’t up to par would be an understatement.

They created an entirely new Complex Networks Twitter account to release this.

This was pretty much buzzword soup. It didn’t tackle any of the issues presented in Wines’ open letter to the company, so it didn’t accomplish much at all.

This is simply not how you handle this. All we have to do is look at the Adidas situation from a few weeks ago and compare.

  • They took immediate action within the week that Julia Bond and her colleagues called them out by increasing their donation to organizations dedicated to black advancement to $120 million and creating new company hiring goals for minorities.

  • What Complex’s statement amounts to is “we could do better, but we don’t really think we’ve done anything wrong” without really proving that to us.

The company says it needs to make sure that they’re supporting minority groups in the building. Fine. Show us what you’re doing. Give us diversity numbers. Announce a new initiative. Something. Anything.

Because this? This says nothing.

The irony of the Air Dior drop

Sorry, but I’ve got to go deep into my hater bag with this one. I hate this shoe so much. It pretty much embodies the worst aspects of sneaker culture right now.

I mean, it’s not even a top 5 AJ1 drop of the last, like, five years. Everything about it feels so unnecessary. It’s like throwing a block of lasagna on a slice of pizza. Like, yes! Sounds good. But also, like, why are we doing this again? Did you want heartburn tonight?

Anyway, what really got me going on this thing was everyone describing the process of trying to purchase them as a “unique online experience.” That stopped me in my tracks, y’all.

Let me clarify. Here’s how you buy it, for those of you who don’t know.

  • You go online to Dior’s web store, pick which shoe you want to buy between the highs ($2,200) and the lows ($2,000) and then you enter into a raffle for that shoe. By the way, it’s only available on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Here’s the kicker, though. If you win, you have to select a Dior store to pick them up at. Like, you physically have to travel to the store. And present your ID. Seriously. So if you’re like me and you live in the D.C. area, you’ll have to go ALL THE WAY to Soho in NYC to cop. In the middle of a pandemic. Fun!

Sounds like an UNIQUE ONLINE experience, right? Right? No??? Didn’t think so. This is so wild. Someone explain to me where the unique and online parts of the experience come in, because I’m confused.

Anyway, I’ll stop hating now. Good luck to y’all who entered. For those of you who didn’t, it’s probably too late.

But honestly, they’ve probably already been backdoored so congrats on saving yourself from a bit of heartache.

Never buy shoes from IG, y’all

Listen, y’all. If you ever thought about buying sneakers — or anything, really — from off of Instagram, DON’T. It’s a scam half the time and the other half the things you get are just garbage.

We have proof, unfortunately. Our homie Mike Taddow from Mavs Moneyball took and made the leap. And, honestly folks, I hate that it had to be him.

These are an L of the highest proportion.

YO WHAT DOES THE HEEL STRAP SAY!?!? Somebody figure it out because I’m unsure. It looks like someone spelled smiles or smells incorrectly. I cannot tell.

This shoe looks like what would happen if the Off-White Desert Ore Air Max 90’s and the Oxford Tan Yeezy 350’s had a love child. Take a few minutes to look both of those up and laugh with me.

Anyway, one more time for good measure, never buy things off of IG. Oh, and read Mike Taddow. He’s great.


YESSIIIIIIIR! We are BYKE. Another Friday, another Kicks We Wear session. Let’s get into it!

First, the homie Jurn kicked us off with these dope Ozweegos.

Then the better Mike made up for the IG thing with the Shammgods. What a comeback, folks.

The homie Josiah came through in the Turbo Green AJ1 with the purple laces. So clean, yo.

Then my guy Josh put me on with the Fuggit slippers. I had to get some. I’m sorry in advance.

Then Danny KILLED IT in the OBJ 720’s. These joints are AMAZING.

Phil came through in these WILD Huaraches. Joints is glowing man.

Then Jasmine sent us home with the cleanest pair of Air Max 270’s ever. And this photo is BOMB.

Y’all destroyed this, per usual. Flyest community out there fam.

Thank you so kindly for rocking with your boy this morning! I hope you have an amazing and safe weekend. Don’t forget to tell your folks to subscribe if you like what you see!

Until Monday, y’all. As always, family, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯