I’m sure you’ve seen the famous pair of Jordan 1st or Nike dunks somewhere throughout your socials, regardless of the color. Similar to my article about the popularization of black culture (check that out if you haven’t), the black community is the birthplace of various trends. Especially when it comes to fashion, sneaker culture is and has been a staple for generations. So much so that it has influenced East and West coast fashion. Especially the west coast and without us, well… I think you get the point. Jordans are, and if not, the most popular pair of shoes when it comes to Nike. So much so that the shoe continues to be made to cater to different communities. Seems cool, right? At first, until they become gentrified.
So, what does gentrification mean?
Gentrification is pitting the low-income class and upper-income class against each other. An example of this is de-urbanization when it comes to sneaker culture. People in positions of power or that have mass amounts of wealth, over-price sneakers making access limited and catered solely to the wealthy. This has created a subculture within the community.
The issue also lies within popularity. People seem to want what they can’t have, and when things become more exclusive, the more people reach for said item. Buying sneakers isn’t the same anymore because influencers within the trend are all wearing the same thing, just in a different color. Not to mention, appropriation when it comes to styling sneakers. There is nothing wrong with appreciating an aspect of a culture that isn’t your own. But if you’re going to do so, please be educated and express that appreciation the right way!
How does gentrification of sneakers mean to the community?
As stated previously, sneakers are being priced at rates significantly higher than what they retail. Even though sneakers are essentially rubber, leather, foam, and other materials used to make shoes. But why is that an issue? For starters, aesthetics. People tend to collect sneakers to keep them in great condition, almost like the first day they bought them. We see trends on Tiktok where people organize their closets in a set-up like a sneaker store. Some think it’s cool, while others don’t see the vision. The shoe collector keeps the shoe crips through tags, replacing the laces, and so on to an extent, making it fetishized.
Let’s not forget to mention the Nike scandal regarding an employee and her son. In summary, Anne Herbert resigned from her job at Nike because of her son’s sneaker reselling company. Of course, the son denies any claims his mother helped in any way, but I’ll leave that up for the reader to make their interpretations. There isn’t much information on the situation, but I, along with many others, are unable to get the sneakers we want. It goes to show how much capitalism plays a role in the way we live and view objects.
I love sneakers, but it feels damn near impossible to get my hands on the ones I want. If brands released more products instead of keeping stock so limited, it would be more easily accessible compared to apps constantly crashing because everyone and their mother are on them. What’s even worse is that people are buying certain shoes in bulk so that they can profit. It’s unreal. Having to pay over $150 for sneakers because of resellers honestly sucks. Not to mention it’s always the same Nike Dunks, Air forces, or anything attached with a large name. Instead of making a gazillion different colorways of Nikes, why not make shoes the shoe more accessible? Yes, I get why people might reject this idea, but I definitely think you’d sell more sneakers that way.
Source (s): Diaz, A. (2018, June 1). The Gentrification of Sneakers Is Killing the Culture. Complex. https://www.complex.com/sneakers/2018/04/the-gentrification-of-sneakers-is-killing-the-culture
Mallet, W. (2019, September 12). Sneakerbots, The Ultimate Betrayal. Ssense. https://www.ssense.com/en-us/editorial/fashion/sneakerbots-the-ultimate-betrayal