The “Sole” of Sneaker Culture at Hellgate


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Liam Queneau, Reporter


Photo Courtesy of Flickr

If you were to take a poll of students at Hellgate, at least a third of them would own a pair of Vans, for good reason. Vans are a very fashionable shoe, as they look great, they go with almost anything, and along with that, they’re one of the cheapest shoes on the market. For $60, the construction of Vans are excellent, and they’ve become a staple of many outfits across the world.

     However, in the world of sneaker culture, Vans rank relatively low, though extremely popular among the general population. With relatively more clout than Vans, and almost as abundant, are the Nike Air Force 1’s. One of the sneakers that helped boost sneaker culture into the mainstream, the AF-1’s are only second to Vans in popularity at Hellgate. Their comfort and good looks make them a hit among students, although their higher price tag of $100 is enough to push some away.

     So how did this whole sneaker culture thing start? Many look at shoes as just another part of their outfit, their decisions based off of what looks good at first glance. For others, however, sneakers are the most important part of their outfit. This is where sneaker culture begins. The group of people that have kept the culture alive and strong since the 80’s has grown by a huge amount, as more and more become invested in the lifestyle.

     Although still around before the 80’s, sneaker culture really bloomed with the introduction of the Air Jordan 1. Michael Jordan, an up-and-coming basketball player for the Chicago Bulls, signed an endorsement deal with shoe company Nike in 1985, and soon after was wearing his own pair of shoes, the Air Jordan 1. However, the colorway utilized for the shoes violated the NBA’s uniform policy, and Jordan was forced to pay a fine of $5,000 a game.

     This hefty price was picked up by Nike, who saw the rebellious air of the shoes as a great marketing opportunity. Due to Michael Jordan’s willingness to wear the shoes despite the fines, along with the fantastic design of the shoe, the Air Jordan 1 became a staple of sneaker culture, still worn and produced to this day.

     In fact, the history and the silhouette of the Air Jordan 1 has made it one of the most popular lifestyle shoes on the market, and with Nike releasing new colorways and styles of the shoe every year, the market for the shoe keep increasing. However, due to the shoe’s high demand, Air Jordan 1’s sell for $160, and most often even more. 

     The recent rise in popularity in sneaker culture can be attributed to the popularity of hip hop and rap. Musicians in these genres, usually saturated with money, own massive collections of shoes, that they display on social media and in their lyrics. Rappers such as Travis Scott and Kanye West have each released numerous pairs of shoes, the former’s selling solely upwards of $1000. Their influence over the current American culture cannot be denied, and the people who listen to and follow these musicians want to adopt that kind of lifestyle, and wear the clothes that their idols wear. 

     So, how are Hellgate students influenced by sneaker culture? Well, many students stick to Vans and Nike running shoes. These shoes look good, they’re comfortable, and they’re affordable. The affordability of shoes is the biggest concern among the general population, as it takes a large amount of money to be a part of sneaker culture. Desirable shoes often cost more than most are willing to spend, and it just makes more sense to not spend senseless amounts of money on shoes.