Eric Martinez-Valerio

ENG 1121 

Professor Penner 

February 24, 2020

Word Count 1389

Discourse community 

When I was first in high school I didn’t really pay attention to sneakers as I thought that we would just wear to just be comfortable when walking. I knew about brands such as Nike, Jordan, and Adidas as those would be the main brands and they were the most recognizable. As I started to work and start gaining money to be able to buy sneakers for myself I started to look more into the brands and the models. Only then I started to see how sneakers have their own culture and that the sneakers we wear each tell their own story. My discourse community is on sneakerheads and the sneaker community. When I first heard about sneakerheads I thought that they had the biggest collections collecting every sneaker that they could get their hands on. I used to think that sneakerheads would only wear one pair of sneakers to conserve the other ones and never take them out of the box to maintain the condition of the sneaker. As I introduced into the sneaker community I was able to see what it means to actually be a sneakerhead. 

What is a sneakerhead? Sneakerhead : One who is in love with but not limited to Jordans, Forces, Dunks, Maxes, etc. That’s the definition provided by the Urban dictionary online. As a sneakerhead now I can attest to that statement and tell you it is not 100% correct as there is more to that when it means to be a sneakerhead. SInce I have friends who have been sneakerheads for a longer period of time overall I wanted to get answers from them as they were more likely to give me in sight on the topic. When it comes to my friends who are sneakerheads I asked one of them what it means to them to be a sneakerhead. When I called my friend Brian over the phone I asked him what it means to be a sneakerhead. At first he told me that “it’s not about having the most amount of sneakers because what defines a sneakerhead is their collection”. Additionally he commented that “the sneakers we have are all unique and they each tell its own story, as a sneakerhead you need your collection to be as personal to you as possible because if you don’t like your collection then what’s the point of even being a sneakerhead if your collection is not about you”. He told me that he wanted his collection to be as distinguishable as possible to be different from others. He didn’t want to be a sneakerhead that purchased the same thing everyone was buying because then how could he be able to distinguish himself from the community. As a sneakerhead I’ve seen that many people incorporate this same concept to always be different and try to stand out with your collection because it’s not about quantity more so quality.When it comes to standing out with your kicks sneakerheads will tend to lace their sneakers up in either a complex or a loose manner, other forms of trying to differentiate their shoe are by changing up the laces on a sneaker or adding shrouds or other small accessories that allow them to express themselves the way they see best. Brian had told me that before going to the city to communicate with other sneakerheads became a thing people would connect online on sneaker forums ( such as nike talk)  and would have conversations on sneaker related topics ( such topics include sneaker releases any possible pictures of an upcoming sneaker that hasn’t yet been announced etc) . Though it hasn’t died out entirely people still use sneaker forums but the more popular choice to communicate with others is for sneakerheads to go to the city. As a sneakerhead going out to the city and talking to other sneakerheads around sneaker shops is now the main way we tend to communicate with each other.When it comes to situations where sneakerheads talk to people who aren’t from the sneakerhead community it’s usually the same form of communication just without the sneaker terminology.Sneakerheads use certain words or phrases that only a sneakerhead would be able know if they randomly joined a conversation. Usually when we are around sneaker shops we like to compliment other people’s kicks because they might style it in a way that others might have not thought of so it looks innovative to us. There’s a couple of sneaker shops that tend to have sneakerheads always return to such as Round Two, Stadium Goods, Origins just to name some areas where sneakerheads tend to go and talk with other sneakerheads. Additionally the sneaker community has built itself such a big community that we even have our own sneaker convention called sneaker-con (so it’s not just limited to sneaker shops) that tends to have sneakerheads from different parts of the country come together for the love of sneakers. 

When it comes to sneakerheads and asking them whether they like to buy sneakers online or in person it was usually split 50/50 as many people would like to go outside and shop at sneaker stores because this way they are able to show the sneaker community the kicks they have as well as being able to have the opportunity to tell whether a sneaker is real or not. Opposed to people who don’t like to shop outside their reasoning for not going outside is because they like to have minimal interaction to be able to prevent people from robbing them when they buy new sneakers though it is rare for there to be a violent interaction . As I continued my interview with Brian I had asked him if there were any differences with how he communicates with sneakerheads and people who didn’t know much about the culture that was sneakers. He responded in saying that when it comes to communicating with people who don’t know about sneakers it’s better they not have conversations about  sneakers with people who don’t know anything about sneakers because they won’t know the correct terminology and it can sometimes be confusing to the other person which leads to even more confusion, leaving them clueless about sneakers, “I personally don’t like to talk about sneakers to people who aren’t sneakerheads because they just won’t understand it” commented Brian which wasn’t surprising as the terminology sneakerheads use can sometimes be confusing as when I first started I was confused about sneaker terminology and would mix up some terms but over time you come to learn the terms about much use in conversations with other sneakerheads. If someone would like to join the sneakerhead community there’s no need for buying a lot of sneakers. To really be a sneakerhead there isn’t really much required as all you really need is a love/passion for sneakers and have the ability to understand the sneaker terminology.Being a sneakerhead is being able to tell a story with the kicks you have regardless of the brand you wear. Additionally to make sure you’re always on top of sneaker news as well as sneaker releases you can always go on to sneaker websites such as kicks on fire, nike sneakers, etc as the sneaker websites are always consistent with information. 

  Sneakerheads want their collection to represent them as a person and it doesn’t mean that you have to buy the most expensive and exclusive sneakers to have the best collection. As a  sneakerhead can customize their sneaker to hold more value than just an aesthetic look as it can also share a moment that only you will be able to remember with a certain pair of sneakers which is far more valued than a price tag. When I first started as a sneakerhead I was always confused about what it took to be a sneakerhead but now after much time being in the sneaker community I can say for certain the connotation when people say sneakerhead is not at all what it seems. As a sneakerhead myself I hope to build my collection to be able to have my own personal experience with each shoe that I buy as a part of a life story. 



        Works cited 

Balagula, Brian. (Friend) Personal interview (In person) . 20 February 2020.