Sneaker culture encourages expression and conversation

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Wearing sneakers as a lifestyle choice is becoming increasingly widespread among Jesuit students and becoming a popular topic of conversation.

According to The NPD Group, the sneaker market is expanding at such a fast rate that it had an astounding 8% year-over-year growth in 2015 (Konbini).

Evolving from a smaller subculture to the larger mainstream culture, sneaker culture has been on the rise ever since its heavy popularization in the 1980s by black athletes and musicians, like Michael Jordan and Run-DMC (Fast Company).

An adolescent Mr. Villareal, reflects on Run-DMC’s music video, “My Adidas,” and its influence on sneaker culture during his adolescent years.

“I used to wear green Pumas, and red [Adidas] Sambas, anything like that,” English teacher Mr. Villareal said. “Especially Converse. I used to wear Converse a lot.”

Nowadays, high school students can often be seen wearing Old Skool Vans, Adidas Stan Smiths, and various Nikes.

A student explains what sneakers mean to her, and how her perspective on them have changed since her time at Jesuit High School.

“I’ve been into sneakers since high school, because my dress code was a lot less strict at my old school,” junior Bella Piccini said. “When I came here, I just started shopping more conservatively, and I found that sneakers were a good way I could be different and express myself.”

Not only do sneakers serve for self-expression, but also speak to the art of thoughtful design.

A senior elaborates on his appreciation for well-crafted sneakers.

“What I look for in a shoe is that it has a story behind it. It’s not just a mindless design. I like shoes with small details that the average person wouldn’t see or think of but sneakerheads like me see,” senior Noah Ruckwardt said.

Sneaker culture, because of its many enthusiasts (commonly known as “sneakerheads”), can also act as a platform to encourage conversation between people.

“I think sneaker culture has become more main stream through social media because Sneakerheads from all over the world are able to connect with each other and grow as a culture,” Ruckwardt said.
Because of the sneaker craze in mainstream culture, modern sneaker enthusiasts can be perceived as obsessive, even barbaric, over a certain pair of overrated shoes, but this is a gross misunderstanding of what sneaker culture is truly about.

“Sneakerheads often get a bad rap for being ‘hypebeasts,’ but honestly it’s just like how people have purses, or people have special sunglasses, or people have a special brand that they like to wear, they just want to show their pride for that brand,” senior Aaron Sha said.

At the end of the day, it is the individual who assigns meaning their sneakers.

Mr. René Villareal shares a story of the meaning behind his Converse.

“I had a pair of blue Converse, low tops, that I got when I was a freshman in college in 1994. And literally, I just threw them out two weeks ago. Obviously these shoes were ravaged, and I threw them out because I never wore them anymore, because they were so uncomfortable,” Mr. Villareal said. “But I held onto them, because [they were] so cool, and they still fit, and I would still wear them, but then I never did.”