words // Brandon Richard
Over the years, one of the divisive issues in the sneaker community has been collecting shoes to keep deadstock. I'm not talking about keeping a pair on ice for a rainy day — I'm talking about people who make purchases with the intent of leaving them unworn forever.
"Wear your sneakers!" say opposers to the idea. "Shoes are meant to be worn!" Well, obviously. You're not breaking any news, and it doesn't change the fact that there's a very collectible element to sneakers, aside from their intended purpose.
I know this because I'm somebody who has quite a few deadstock pairs stashed in the closet. Not because I haven't gotten around to wearing them. Not because I plan on reselling them when the market is favorable. But because I'm a collector at heart, and I genuinely enjoy having some of my favorites in pristine condition.
Some of you are probably saying, "What's the point? I don't understand." Well, to be frank, it's not for you to understand. I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean your approach to collecting should be different from mine. That's what truly keeps things interesting. It's why the conversations with fellow sneakerheads are worth having.
For example, I have a pair of 'Playoff' Air Jordan 13s from the first and only time I ever camped out for shoes in 1998. It was one of the most memorable days of my life — and looking at those shoes pretty much in the condition they were in on that day still warms my heart. There's also the 'Playstation' Air Force 1s I spent a month trying to win from Sole Collector in 2006 before I ever was an employee here. 'Cork' LeBron 10s that actually serve better as a celebratory showpiece than a practical sneaker to wear. And I even recently grabbed a pair of the 'Steel' Shaqnosis to add to my Shaq collection, despite the fact that it's far from something I'd ever wear. All of these are sneakers that I have stashed away, but still get enjoyment out of for various reasons.
Yesterday, we surveyed our readers on Twitter and Facebook, asking if you've ever bought any sneakers to keep deadstock for the long haul. The response was pretty brutal. Not only did an overwhelming majority speak against deadstock collecting, but there was a strange tone of anger behind many of the comments. Here's a few of the recurring replies:
Argument #1: You're not a real sneakerhead if you don't wear your kicks!
Where exactly do these sneakerhead rules people love to throw around come from? And why put other sneakerheads in a box? This isn't exactly the most conventional hobby to begin with.
Argument #2: You're ruining it for those of us who want to wear our kicks!
There's hundreds of thousands of pairs, multiple restocks and the pair I have in my closet is ruining things for you? A deadstock collector spends hard earned dollars to enjoy a pair of sneakers like you, just in a different way.
Argument #3: You're a hypebeast!
Don't get me wrong — I'm not stocking everything. I have more sneakers than I can count and I'm very grateful to be in a position where I can drop cash on a pair just to have. But that's only part of my story. I still love wearing kicks too, which makes the whole deal about not being a 'real sneakerhead' if you stash a few pairs even more baffling to me.
There's also the little issue of how much deadstock collectors help drive the hobby. Those decade old, fresher than fresh 'Melo' Air Jordan 2s you picked up last week didn't just appear out of thin air. That wasn't a quick flip — that was you benefiting from somebody who decided to sit on a pair of kicks. Now you have the opportunity to do what you'd like with them.
There shouldn't be an 'us against them' mentality within the sneaker game. We're all part of a fascinating culture and should celebrate everybody's unique approach to collecting. I love when I see #BeatHeat. It's great that talented people are out there tearing shoes apart and reconstructing them with visions of their own. I also happen to enjoy when a collector is sitting on a ton of fresh pairs that haven't even been laced up. Hopefully this article offers some insight as to why.