I Stopped Caring About Sneakers

Meet these former collectors who've moved on.

By Julian Jimenez

As time goes on, priorities can change. Sneaker lovers that once had dreams of building collections curated with the rare pairs sometimes end up falling out of the game due to other responsibilities or just plain old waning interest.

We spoke to seven individuals that got into sneakers at a young age. They all remember the reason they started collecting sneakers and the initial excitement that got them hooked, but later realized that there was more to life than just having the latest on their feet.

Why don’t you collect sneakers like you used to?

Robin Lundberg, 37: There’s always a “spite” thing—even if you can technically afford them. “Do I really want to pay this much for shoes?” I always liked the $80 price point. Those are the sneakers I always get but then there’s the Jordan thing. Jordan has said some things that I don’t love. There’s a part of me that would rather support some of the other brands than Jordan Brand. I would say there hasn’t been anything that was a complete hindrance. Generally, I want to get the pair that I think looks the best and is most stylish that isn’t $500.

Julian Sanchez, 26: I have a fiancé. We’re not getting any younger. We want to fucking buy a house. I’m not saying that I’m going to have $100,000 in shoes that I could sell and buy a house, but at this point any little bit counts. We need to get married and pay for a freaking wedding. To invite 100-150 guests, you’re looking at $60,000-90,000. Stuff like that is what made me open up my eyes. I’m not a little kid anymore. I’m a grown man.

Carlos Cabrera, 32: Life, kids, and issues with family things. Sometimes when you got more shit in life, that takes your mind off everything else. You lose that focus. Your wifey is beefing with you because every week you’re freaking waiting for a new release. Another thing that fucked everything up was the change of the release time.

Ricky Sepulveda, 27: After college, you kind of try to control your money. You kind of get interested in more expensive toys and nicer things. When you come back to the sneaker game and you see how it is nowadays, everything is insane. I watch the younger crowd try to get a pair of sneakers and it’s nothing like it used to be. I remember I could easily walk into a store and get the sneakers maybe a week before the sneakers came out. Nowadays, sneakers going up in price, kids getting attacked over sneakers, and not even being able to get a pair, and to later find out that they’re going to get re-released in a few months—the whole sneaker game has just gotten insane.

Peter Sanderson, 32: I just cut back because I wasn't interested anymore. The thrill of it was gone for me. The game got too saturated and there was no more exclusivity in having shoes. Everyone walks around with the same shoes on. No flair. No style. Why continue?

Ryan Bergman, 37: I have more important responsibilities. With a wife, kids, and a house in the ‘burbs I dont have the same urge to go out and buy tons of sneaks. Still have a few crisp pairs, Air Force 1s, couple of Js, and some SBs, but all of my time and money go to my family. I now live vicariously through the younger guys. God bless ‘em. Do it know when you have little responsibility.

Dustin Lee Abraham, 43: It was when I sold all my Jordans. I felt like everyone was trying to get these shoes. Before, it wasn’t everywhere. Three months later people are like, “Oh you got those?” I’m like, “Yea. I got those the first day.” Now it’s like everybody fucking is into collecting sneakers. What I’m saying is I’m going after the same sneakers it seems as everybody else. Even though they’re limited, the fact that they’re limited makes everybody wear them more. Everybody wants to show off their shoes because they spent $900 on this fucking Yeezy. They’re all wearing them. It just feels like you’re just wearing the same shoe as everybody else—even though they’re more limited. It’s weird.

Did you ever feel like you weren’t cool enough to be into sneakers?

Robin: I think nerd culture in general has become popular culture. For instance, someone who is not cool will get wind of the Steph Curry sneaker controversy, and be like, “Oh that’s the kind of shoe I wear because I’m an old white guy.” If that diminishes the cool factor then I guess you could say that. Sometimes things are more cool when they are more isolated or rare, or you think you’re the person who discovered it. I would say the awareness of sneaker culture and the sneaker game is higher than it’s ever been.

Julian: Yes. The thing that is cool is having something that nobody can get their hands on. That’s what’s hot. People want to have stuff that not everybody has. You tell me when was the last time you saw somebody wearing Red Octobers?

Ricky: Not really. Still to this day, I think sneakers are pretty cool. It’s mostly what the sneaker game has become that pushes me away from it, but everyone has their thing. If people like sneakers that’s good for them, as long as they know what they’re giving up for these sneakers. I would never look down on someone who’s a sneakerhead still.

Peter: It's still cool to have kicks because everybody is a sneakerhead now. Kids are like 20 and they were like four or five when these kicks originally came out. “What do you know about them?” I can recall to this day where I was and what I was doing when certain Jordans, Pennys, Foams, Bo Jacksons, Air Maxes, and Uptempos came out.

Ryan: It’s cool to collect sneakers if that’s what you are into and you can do it responsibly. Cool is a state of mind. What’s cool? Not giving a shit what other people think.

Dustin: No. I think having a fresh pair of kicks is always going to be sought after. Jordans are beginning to turn into Chucks or Shell Toes. In 10 years they’ll just be staple sneakers.

The thrill of it was gone for me. The game got too saturated and there was no more exclusivity.

Have you ever had to sell your sneakers due to personal money issues?

Robin: No. I don’t think I ever had some shoes that were worth that much—where I was in that dire situation where I was selling off my shoes. I’ve donated clothes and traded in stuff at one of these thrift stores. Nothing like (that), or even sell them on Craigslist. I haven’t been like, “Yo I gotta sell these sneakers so I can eat tomorrow.”

Julian: My mother and I lost the house. I was living out of my car. Sold a couple of Jordans to make sure I at least was up to date on my bills. There’s one thing I care about a lot is my credit. Credit is very important nowadays—for anything you do. A lot of what I (sold) at the time was Jordans—multiple pairs.

Ricky: Thank god I never had to. I’ve been smart in how I spend my money. I do think about looking at my sneakers every so often and just wonder, “What would I do if I had all that money I spent on sneakers and used it for something else?”

Peter: No. I'll always manage my money well. I mean we all run into hard times, but if you have to sell one of your favorite shoes or otherwise you'll be evicted, lights turned off, etc., just deal with the heartache and handle your responsibilities. I have a weak spot in my heart for anyone that has to do that.

Ryan: I am an entrepreneur by nature and have started a few companies. I sold some shoes to help me out when money was tight. No regrets at all. Like other collectibles, it usually goes to someone who cherishes them.

Dustin: If that happens, that sucks. I feel bad for the person that has to do that. The only reason I sold mine was because I just felt I was going to get the highest price for them at that moment. It’s all supply and demand. They’re putting all these Jordans out there, fucking the price is going to go down.

If you could give your younger self advice about the sneaker game, what would it be?

Robin: It sounds cliche or lame, but “do you.” An athlete or a celebrity endorsing something always helps it out, but don’t be afraid to like what you like. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. You like something, you like it. You don’t have to hide it or be ashamed of it.

Julian: If I knew everything that I know now, after everything I’ve been through, what I would do is invest that money in something else. I’d save it and put that money aside to invest in stocks—something that’s going to grow me money.  

Carlos: I would say to myself, “Don’t worry. When you get older you’re going to be able to buy them shits.” Ultimately it’s because when I was younger I couldn't afford it. Now I can. If I could’ve afforded it back then, trust me, I probably would’ve been collecting way long ago.  

Ricky: I’d probably tell myself, “Really sit back and think about everything you’re giving up when you buy those pairs of sneakers.” At the end of the day, I had all the sneakers. I had the popularity, but once you grow up, once that hype goes away, sneakers aren’t around anymore. It could be used as an investment nowadays. These kids could probably save their money for something more important.

Peter: Pace yourself. Buying footwear can get out of control at times when you're just loaded with shoes. I was, at one point, with no place to wear them. To me it's a joy and a passion that I have still have to this day—just not as high as before. I feel if you're passionate enough about something, just go for it.