Thanks to LeBron James, Miami Gets in on the Footwear Game with Sneaker Con
And we'd be able to sell those used high-tops for approximately a bajillion dollars at this Saturday's Sneaker Con, a one-day convention where sneakerheads buy, sell, and trade hot kicks and gear, including plenty of special edition and vintage stuff from more than 30 vendors. We spoke to event founder and eminent sneakerologist Alan Vinogradov about sneaker culture, Tokyo trends, and why Miami is the new spot for hot kicks.
Alan Vinogradov: With Sneaker Con, we attempt to mimic the floor of the New York Stock Exchange: prices being shouted, money being exchanged for new and used sneakers. We have produced a live marketplace, which allows sneakerheads to open up new trading networks and leave Sneaker Con with a few bucks in their pocket. You can also expect to see Adidas Original featuring some of their latest, never-before-seen sneaker designs which will be previewed at Sneaker Con.
Miami isn't really known for its sneaker game as much as other cities such as New York or L.A. Why did you decide to host a Sneaker Con here?
Miami "wasn't" known for it's sneaker game as much as New York and L.A. But since LeBron James landed in Miami it has transcended the culture in many places in the country. Miami is now a go-to location for the sneaker culture. In 2010, Nike introduced the Nike LeBron Zoom 8 South Beach edition. This shoe was first introduced in select stores in Miami. It featured a teal colorway, which sneakerheads across the country embraced, and the shoe now fetches anywhere from $600 to $800 at Sneaker Con. Its original retail price was $160.
Miami is also on the forefront of brick-and-mortar sneaker stores. Last year, we were introduced to Sole Fly, which is the latest hub for limited edition sneaker releases. Just last week, Sole Fly hosted their one-year anniversary by releasing an Air Jordan 13 Ray Allen Edition, which was limited to a handful of stores in the country. Other retail stores which offer a unique experience include Mr.R Sports, ATC, and Shoe Gallery. Miami is on the come-up, and we recognize the passion of the culture in South Florida and plan on providing an amazing platform which will expose sneaker heads to new worlds of footwear culture.
My love for sneakers stems from the original Jordan 13s that came out while I was in 7th grade. The colorways and silhouette of the shoe was very different and incorporated colorways that proved to be relevant even today. I didn't understand sneakers as a culture when I was a kid, but I did enjoy them. It wasn't until 2003 where I began to understand kicks as a culture. This all became apparent to me after a trip that I took out to Tokyo, Japan.
Where does sneaker culture stem from?
Sneakers have been relevant in the United States since the days of Pro-Keds and Converse, and have maintained a very serious following of individuals who are looking to purchase a pair of shoes to help them standout. The culture has been bubbling since the first Jordan 1, which released in 1985. [Michael Jordan] and Nike's resilient attitude towards the NBA fines suffered after each game where Michael wore the red/white-black was one of the best [public relations] events in sneaker history. The release marked an instant sell-through, and people all over the country queued up to obtain this sought-after style.
Specifically though, sneakers did not become an actual culture til the mid- to late-'90s. Japanese "buyers" were flying to the United States to purchase old, used, and new shoes to resell in Japan. The culture really stems from the demand developed in Tokyo. Kids there were rocking rare Jordan sneakers and other vintage styles and complimented these styles with clothing, which was just as sought-after. It wasn't a real culture until it united individuals.
Platforms such as Niketalk.com and Sole Collector were the true foundation. The live auction site eBay made it possible for individuals to actually obtain rare shoes and new friendships were developed amongst buyers and sellers. This spirit is the actual culture and these networks which developed over time can be accredited to footwear acting as an true cultural phenomenon.
What celebrity has the hottest sneaker game right now?
I would say Drake is definitely on top right now. He wore a sneaker a few months ago that is unknown amongst most celeb sneakerheads, the Air Jordan 8 Ray Allen Edition. Only 24 pairs of those were made, and they were released to the public via House of Hoops in Harlem, New York, in 2008. That shoe really won me over for many reasons: There was no release date, and it is impossible to find at this point. If made available, it can potentially fetch $5,000 to $7,000, depending on the size.
Sneaker Con takes place Saturday at BankUnited Center (1245 Dauer Drive, Coral Gables). Admission costs $12, and the convention runs from noon to 7 p.m.. Visit sneakercon.com.
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