How To Be A Sneakerhead (Part 1 of 2)

Being a sneakerhead isn’t cheap. It’s not unusual to see adults and kids at Sneaker Con (yes, there are sneaker conventions) buying and selling shoes priced in the thousands.

Jordan.  Nikes.  Adidas.  Vans.  These brand names are music to people’s ears.  The shoe enthusiasts – they call themselves sneakerheads – have formed an entire subculture around the acquisition of the hottest trending footwear.  Whether we’re talking about the latest fashions or decades-old vintage shoes, people go absolutely nuts over sneakers.

The history of the sneakerhead movement

Being a sneakerhead isn’t cheap.  It’s not unusual to see adults and kids at Sneaker Con (yes, there are sneaker conventions) buying and selling shoes priced in the thousands.  It’s a hobby that requires budgeting, negotiating, trading, careful shopping, and decisive action.  The movement traces back to the 1970s and 80s with a spike in interest in basketball, hip-hop music, and sneakers.  The year 1984 saw the introduction of the Air Jordan brand.  Owning a pair became a status symbol in the popular culture.

The online world of sneakerheads

E-commerce has provided a high-speed platform for these transactions to take place, imitating the boisterousness of a stock trading floor (one of the premier sites for shoe buying is StockX, a global stock market for goods) or the energy of an auction house.   Consumers spend a lot of their time scouring various websites for the best shoes, which can sell out in a matter of seconds.  Knowing when to make the right move is critical. Consider the following scenario: Kanye West drops a new pair of shoes – the adidas YEEZY BOOST 350 V2 Butter. Retail price upon release is $220.  The stock level on the shoe is relatively high, which means, by the law of supply and demand, that the resale value should be low.  Collectors may forego copping a pair in favor of more exclusive releases. However, in the world of sneakerheads, traditional rules of supply and demand don’t often apply because the popularity of the brand has already exceeded supply, even before the shoe is dropped.  Suddenly, you’re facing a $1,000 resale value for a $220 shoe.  You better act fast! This brings me to another important rule of being a successful sneakerhead: you must know your stuff.  Collectors must have a feel for industry trends.  Fortunately, there are plenty of industry-specific sites to track news and trends in the shoe world.  Celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, are key marketing channels for the major brands.  That’s why pretty much every sneakerhead follows Kim on social media – not necessarily to find out what she ate for dinner, but to get the inside scoop on her husband’s moves.

Get organized!

One of the first steps to becoming a successful sneakerhead is to organize yourself.  Copping a hot pair of sneakers is a time-sensitive process.  You need to be on you’re A-game.  Every second counts in this game.  Literally.  Time management skills become paramount.  Sneaker release calendars are advisable.

Know the lingo

Being a sneakerhead requires a good grasp of the language.  There are handy guides available online to help get you up to speed, but for now, here are a few essential words to get you started.


Bespoke is a one-of-a-kind personalized sneaker designed at NikeLab at 21 Mercer Street in New York City.  This is every sneakerhead’s dream – to visit the NikeLab and get a one-on-one appointment with a design consultant to create a unique shoe from scratch, right down to the stitching.  The term originates from tailoring, where it was used to refer to clothing made to order.


This term simply refers to the color scheme and palette of a sneaker.  Often, sneakerheads will reference sneaker nicknames to specify a colorway.  An example might be: Black Cements are a specific colorway of the Jordan III silhouette.


Deadstock is a pair of shoes that have never been worn or even taken out of the box.  It’s like a NIB (see below), but not exactly.  These shoes are often more expensive because of their mint condition and are highly coveted in the world of sneakerheads.  You may see this term abbreviated to “DS” on various websites.


A term of warning.  These are the people who follow the trends and believe the hype, snatching up every new limited release they can get their hands on.  This is the guy who buys sneakers based on what’s trending online.  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it can backfire.  You know what they say about hype, don’t you?  Don’t always believe it.


The most limited type of release.  These kinds of drops happen suddenly and without warning.  They are kept under wraps and are released in very limited amounts.


NIB stands for “new in the box.”  You can open the box and look at the shoes.  You can even take them out and admire them, but the second you put them on your feet, they no longer qualify.  Highly coveted in sneakerhead world.


Originals.  This term refers to the first time a shoe is released.  Not a retro (see below) and not a re-release.


Retro models are re-releases (also known as bring-backs and throwbacks).  If you failed to cop an OG, you can always get a retro model to have in your collection.


The most iconic sneaker ever made: the Nike Air Force 1.  Also known as Uppies or Classics.  These shoes were nicknamed from their days of popularity in uptown New York neighborhoods like Harlem.

How to buy shoes online

Sneakerheads can go one of two routes.  They can cop manually, visiting retailer websites or downloading their apps and going through the checkout.  If this is your style, you better be prepared to wait at your computer for the drop, much the same way Black Friday shoppers camp out for the hottest deals, and you better be prepared for heartbreak.  Seriously, if that’s your method for scoring Yeezys, good luck to you!  The other method is much faster (and much more technical).  Welcome to the world of bots!

Bots, proxies, and servers!  Oh, my!

Bots are downloadable programs or software that you can run on a sneaker server to help you check out faster than any human being possibly could.  Using bots does not guarantee copping.  However, it gives you a fighting chance in a world where mere seconds can make all the difference.  Bots allow collectors to create multiple accounts to increase their chances of copping limited sneakers that drop online.  They use previously loaded information to automatically complete online transactions.  There are free bots available online, but if you want the real deal, you could end up paying a couple hundred dollars or so for a decent bot. A word about choosing a bot: there is a science to choosing a good bot.  There are many options out there.  Use this guide as a starting point for researching the best bots available.  The top bots on the market are AIO Bot, BetterNikeBot, and NikeSlayer.  There is something to be said, though, for choosing a bot with fewer users.  When everyone is using the same bot, there’s no competitive advantage to be gained by using that same bot.  Other recommendations include Ghost, Dashe, and CyberSole. Another word about bots:  they sell out fast.  You practically need a bot to purchase the bots!  Be sure to act fast.  Also, be sure to use Twitter to follow news on specific bots to catch when they restock online. Stay tuned for the second part of this guide to becoming a sneakerhead...
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