It’s happened to you in NYC: you’re walking down the sidewalk and suddenly you have to detour around a long queue of mostly young men. When you get to the head of the queue suddenly all is clear as people file into a store selling a newly released sneaker from one of the big sneaker manufacturers. You have just come face to face with NYC’s Sneakerhead culture, those who devote vast amounts of time, money and real estate to the buying, collecting, trading and sometimes the wearing of sneakers.
The Brooklyn Museum at 200 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn now has an exhibition which traces the history of rubber soled shoes from way back until the explosion of modern sneakers into the marketplace. This happened in the mid 1980′s when world famous basketballer Michael Jordan wore his famous Air Jordan’s onto a basketball court for the first time, while Nike happily paid the $5,000 fine he incurred everytime he wore his colored sneakers instead of the then regulation white.
So of course, sneakers, until then almost exclusively associated with gym wear and sports of all kinds, suddenly became the item of clothing deeply desired by all urban young men, especially African American young men keen to make their impact on the world on their own terms. This was especially true of the New Yorkers involved in the Hip Hop revolution in NYC. These days so comprehensive has the sneaker revolution been that when designers of high fashion send their female models down the runway wearing glamorous gowns while they have sneakers on their feet, everyone is charmed instead of being shocked.
Once something becomes an obsession it morphs from its original purpose into something else entirely. So now millions of sneaker obsessives have their own videos, TV shows, online hangouts, websites and swap meets. Sneakers are now very big business indeed and many 1,000′s of sneakerheads make a very comfrotable living being a trader, sneaker guru or collector or all three.
The Brooklyn Museum exhibtion lets you trace the history of sneakers from their simple beginnings as simply rubber soled shoes of various kinds to the rich collection of sneakers now available, the best of which sell for over $70,000 at auction. For all details of the exhibition go to
Brooklyn Museum Sneaker Exhibition
Now any basketball star worth his million dollar price tag will have his own pair of sneakers designed just for him, sold out ins econds when they are released and then immedaitly onsold on Ebay with a 2-8 times mark up depending on how desuired they are. Yes sneakers are grat to wear but they mean so much more in our current culture.