Another Thing I Missed
I’m the first one to admit that I’m out of the loop on social trends.
So it should come as no surprise that I was oblivious to the fact that one of the defining items in anyone’s wardrobe these days is a pair of Kanye West shoes. Did you know he had a shoe brand?
I didn’t until I read an article titled “’Sneakerheads Camp in Nottingham for Kanye’s Latest Shoe.”
Before we continue, you should know, as I just learned, that “Sneakerhead” is a real term. Apparently there are people so into shoes that they have evolved a specialized language and everything. Carnegie Mellon University in the US has a course on the phenomenon called “Sneakerology 101.”
Anyway, last month these new shoes came out and the asking price was £150, which is about $260. In order to part with that kind of money for a pair of shoes, “devoted fans” were lining up for “several days” in order to access the limited number of shoes that would go on sale. According to someone who was waiting in line, “As you get close to release time you get a real buzz around and people get real excited.”
The shop selling the shoes explained demand as being due to “. . . the power of the brand. Kanye is a giant of popular culture – and he is married to Kim Kardashian – so the hype around his brand is huge.”
The article didn’t delve into the demographic of the assembled crowd but it’s fairly clear there were two classes of people. One were those who could afford to pay that kind of money for a pair of shoes and had nothing better to do than camp out on the sidewalk in winter weather for a few days. The other group were people who were probably used to camping out on the sidewalk in winter weather but generate their income by buying Kanye shoes and turning around and selling them. Apparently these things are such a hot commodity that they can be resold for a more than 100% profit on the same day. Not a bad day’s work! I don’t know all the details of how the aftermarket works but Kanye shoes have been known to sell for “thousands of pounds.”
Some retailers, and Adidas, who make the shoes, in particular discourage this. They will only let you buy one pair at a time.
In case you are wondering why the shoes have such value, here is the explanation from an 18-year-old aficionado: “You need style if you are an 18-year-old boy – you look at people nowadays and everything is about what you look like.”
I do remember various “must have” things over the years, but reality has gradually made me immune to the exhortations of advertisers.
However, while I’ve been quietly living my life, a whole alternative culture of brand identity has grown up. Around clothes in general, but definitely with shoes. There are whole websites (and apps) devoted to notifying people of product “drops.” A “drop” is a product release. Times were, bad, underperforming product lines were dropped by manufacturers but now hot new stuff is dropped, as if from heaven.
And once you get your hands on a coveted new drop, life really gets complicated. I saw an article entitled “Sneakerheads: Stop Wearing Good Shoes With Trash Outfits.” Why should you do that? “Because the virtues of a good sneaker are endless,” and “. . . your shoes deserve so much more than the stylish equivalent of stepping in dog shit.”
This pretty much sums it up: “And you want your sneakers to be happy, right? You didn’t shell out a whole month’s paycheck on them to make them neglected, right? If you truly want to show your appreciation for your footwear game, pay them a compliment: Style them correctly.“
The article closes with the warning: “Because even though the clothes don’t make the man, the clothes and a good pair of sneakers might.”
This is serious business. I found out that there is even a hashtag #NTDenim where people who wear the wrong kind of jeans with their sneakers are photographed and shamed. To help others from making “the same regrettable mistake.” To help you, there are also websites and apps that “curate” all these must have things. Incidentally, however, another website urged people not to use that hashtag because people were purposely assembling hideous insults to their sneakers and posting them “in order to be famous on the Internet.” Another thing I missed.
In a radio interview, after being asked about his priorities, a young man said, “Don’t judge me. I can spend my money however I like. These shoes define who I am.”
One can only wonder, who these people are and where they go to see and be seen and what they value other than their shoes.