“My name is Larry Gallagher and it’s been half a year since I really cared about sneakers.”
Anyone who knows me would look at the above statement and immediately cry, “Bullshit.” I’ll admit if you were to look through my Twitter and Instagram feed, you’d have suitable ammo to declare the statement false as well. But it’s not pictures of sneakers or casual commentary on the way a shoe looks that I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is actually caring about sneakers at all.
Did you know that there have been roughly 1,024 major releases in the past six months? I even took some time and compiled a list of the releases that I liked and wouldn’t mind adding to my collection, and even that list was well over 80 sneakers in the span of 6 months.
Having this many releases in such a small period of time definitely took a toll on my ability to look forward to “what might be next” from some of my favorite shoe lines. Oversaturation of sneakers made me care less, but it wasn’t the only thing that sucked the joy out of a hobby that I once loved.
As long as I’ve been earning a steady paycheck, I’ve cared about sneakers. It didn’t matter if I had to hop on the number 2 bus to Secaucus, N.J. to hit up the Kups sneaker outlet that sold Air Jordans for 20 percent off on release day (may they rest in peace) or make friends with the managers at local Foot Lockers, I did whatever I had to do to stay immersed in sneaker culture.
Picking up several pairs of sneakers in a month was just a way of life for me. I always tried to find decent deals or hook ups but it was just the way I chose to spend my disposable income. I never saw anything wrong with it. I didn't bother wasting time and money out at bars or on expensive hobbies, so dropping $300-$500 a month on shoes just seemed normal.
Buying and collecting sneakers was just a lot easier then too as you never had to fight to try to get a pair of whatever general shoe was releasing. As long as you showed up on that first day you could usually pick up with little to no problem. Another thing that used to be more fun? If you really liked a sneaker you could realistically find a way to buy multiple colorways because you didn't have the same shoe drop in 4 or 5 colorways in the same month.
Even as I matured and learned to manage the more important aspects of my life (mainly raising a family), my love for sneakers was still there. Any free time I could spare was dedicated to researching and finding out all of the new sneaker news that was out there. If I could afford to grab pairs of my favorite retro Jordan release for the whole family, you better believe I was doing it.
As the years progressed, I found myself with the unique opportunity to occasionally write about sneakers, and from there my love affair with them grew in a whole new way. I’ve been able to see sneakers from both sides of the fence, and while my fascination with the sneaker industry will always be there, my feelings towards the general culture of sneakers has been on somewhat of a decline.
It was right after the release of the “Carmine” Air Jordan 6 that I found myself losing interest in keeping up with other “sneakerheads.” I went from still purchasing up 1-2 releases a month to just stopping, cold turkey. I was just tired of all of the nonsense.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m yelling at myself as well here.
In the past, I’ve caught myself complaining about “how things used to be” in sneaker culture. Waving my pair of OG black and red Jordan Air Jordan 3s at today’s youth and telling them to figuratively “get off my lawn.”
All subcultures deal with transition from one generation to the next in their own way, but it seems to me that in the world of sneakers, we have just become horrible towards each other. You can’t like Jordans anymore because they’re played out and if you buy pretty much any all-red sneaker then you’re a horrific hypebeast attempting to make up for not owning a pair of the Red Octobers.
Every unwritten rule contradicts the other and individualism is now scoffed at in a culture that used to be full of unique individuals. There is just so much product out there right now that you really have to think to yourself, “How can sneakers keep being produced at such an expedited rate and keep their quality intact?” The sad answer is: they can’t.
In 2013 there were 505,500 units sold of the “Oreo” Air Jordan 5 and just last month, the Air Jordan XI “Legend Blue” cleared almost 500,000 pairs as well. Absolutely amazing numbers to think about but at the same time you can’t possibly expect there to not be some type of quality issues with such mass produced shoes. These types of numbers added into a never ending cycle of re-release after re-release, creates an assembly line culture for sneaker heads. While I get that we live in a time where everything has become “on demand” and we often scoff at the idea of being made to wait for things that we want, you can’t possibly expect care and time to be put into our shoes when the mantra for sneaker culture has become “We want more and we want it now”.
For me, these past six months weren’t a boycott (I did purchase the Lebron 12 “Heart of a lion” and was lucky enough to get through online for a pair of the Air Jordan XI “Legend Blues”) or a damning of sneaker culture, instead they were just a time where I personally observed it with a magnifying glass and wasn’t always happy with what I saw.
I watched people who should be united after the horrific things that have been going on in our country, but instead got into brawls over tickets for Air Jordan 11s. I just threw my hands up and wonder if sneaker culture will ever truly get it together.
Taking the time to write this isn’t my farewell to loving sneakers. In fact if I were done with it all I wouldn’t have even bothered. What these words are is an honest look at what I see as a problem in something I really care about.
I’ve made some good friends and met some really cool people because of sneakers and I refuse to let the negatives outshine the positives. Introspection is something we all need to do at times. As members of a larger sneaker community we all need make an attempt to make things better for everyone else involved in it.
Honestly though, what do I know? I’m probably just full of “BS.”