Below is an article I just wrote for a company called Crucial Element about sneaker culture. Let me know what you think!

♥ S
Sneak Attack!

Interior of Sneaker Bistro in New York

What is it about our sneaker preference that defines us? Is it the style? The brand? The color? It’s astounding to think that sneakers are such a prominent part of everyone’s wardrobe when they only became a mainstream product half a century ago. Sneakers were mainly reserved for athletes until James Dean made a statement with them in the 1950’s. From there, sneaker culture was born and took on a life of its’ own.

You can find a sneaker specialized for everything from playing golf to Ipod compatibility! There are not only websites using sneakers as their sole topic, but also documentaries on the rise of sneaker culture and even online web channels focusing around the phenomenon, such as Obsessive Sneaker Disorder Channel on the Mongulus website. What other wardrobe item can you think of that people will line up for at hours at a time to get the next new thing? While sneaker collecting seems to be a male dominated hobby, they always say women love their shoes, which does in fact include sneakers. Sneaker culture has even spawned its’ own language! (You can view the dictionary at!)

New York is by nature more daring with fashion experimentation than other geographical areas and this rings true with sneaker fads. New York is considered more urban than most areas and since sneaker trends are mainly urban culture-based, sneaker trends tend to be born and implemented here. Jeff, the “Assistant Director of Freshness,” at Sneaker Bistro, a popular boutique sneaker store here in New York, states it best when he brings up the point, “They don't call Nike Air Force 1’s ‘Uptowns’ without having good reason.” Jeff also feels that small boutique stores like Sneaker Bistro help set the trends for the larger stores based on what the best sellers are. The fact that they have a blog, ( helps them to stay current with the technologically advanced consumers and stay informed as to what their customers are gravitating towards sneaker-wise.

While sneakers in the functionality-sense are considered a necessity, sneaker collecting on the other hand is considered a luxury. Much like other facets today that are affected by the recession, sneaker purchases have also been affected and have been cut back a significant amount due to its’ seemingly frivolous nature. Jeff has observed, “What a lot of people are doing now is being more selective. Rather than continually grabbing new releases at three or four at a time, they are following the online blogs and forums and selectively choosing the product.”

What are companies doing to stimulate the sneaker industry and get the public to buy again? Much like the rest of the fashion world, they are tapping today’s up and coming talent in the Entertainment Industry to hopefully engage those that idolize these individuals and want to dress like them. Some of these celebs include Hayden Panettiere, Ashley Tisdale, JoJo, Brandy, Ashlee Simpson, Christina Aguilera, and the list goes on. Two actors from Gossip Girl specifically, Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick have been featured in the most recent ads for Reebok and K Swiss respectively. And according to Jeff as far as buying trends go, diehards are still out buying regardless. “What we have noticed with our clientele is that Sneakerheads buy sneakers even when times are bad. If companies keep putting out fresh sneakers, people are going to buy them.”

Sneaker culture isn’t something you can study in a book. You can’t Wikipedia it. It’s learned through observation of those you surround yourself with, be it the B Boys in “the Cage” at West 4th, to the hip hop dancers at Broadway Dance Center. Each clique has a style all their own, one that can even be clearly defined just by their sneakers. Sneaker styles may go out of style, but sneakers as an entity will always be current because of their comfort level and consideration as a staple to every wardrobe, be if for fitness or for fashion statement. Sneakers are a way for a person to show their inner personality on the outside for the world to see. What are you wearing?
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