Sneaker Con Uncovered A Hidden Sneaker Market

You know what’s about as believable as an underground toothbrush market? Telling you the resale market for sneakers is worth $1.2 billion annually and was launched by a sneaker convention called Sneaker Con.

But, it’s true. Well, the sneaker part. Not sure about the toothbrushes. Although, 2 Chainz did brush his teeth with a $5,000 toothbrush, so maybe there is an underground market for them.

Anyways, the roots of the sneaker culture are very blurry, but some point to Tinker Hatfield’s designs of the Air Jordan series. You know, those iconic shoes, which people fight over at malls on Christmas day.

For much of the late 1990s and early 2000s, you either waited in line for hours to get your hands on an anticipated sneaker release, or you shopped on eBay and craigslist (risking robbery or buying fakes).

However, in the past five years, we’ve seen sneaker culture blossom into a secure industry filled with legitimate businesses making it easier for people to indulge in the culture.

For instance, the venture-backed app startup, GOAT has created a platform for secure, sneaker trading–similar to an E-Trade.

Sneakerheads read the Bloomberg of sneaker trading daily: Hypebeast and Complex, to stay up to date on trending sneakers.

But, best of all is StockX, which tracks sales data across numerous sites to provide the value of every stock real-time. No joke, this is actually the NYSE for sneakers; you’d get a “kick” out of seeing it live.

As a result of the systematization and increased hype around sneakers like Yeezys, LeBrons, Kobes, even Asics, people are treating sneakers more and more like investments. One of the most notable sneaker suppliers clears upwards of $1 million annual profit and is 16 years-old. They refer to him as The Sneaker Don and his client list includes DJ Khaled, Odell Beckham Jr., and many A-list actors.

But, what spurred all of this growth and creative inspiration?

Sneaker Con. Prior to 2006, sneakerheads acknowledged each other by a simple look down at each other’s sneakers and then a nod in their direction, showing the mutual appreciation.

Starting in 2006, but gaining its widespread popularity in 2009, Sneaker Con created a convention for sneakerheads to come together and geek out over shoes, with around 25 vendors selling their loot.

Fast forward to 2016 and the convention has become a full blown experience. Occurring monthly, over 150 vendors set up shop in the largest convention centers across the US to buy and sell commodities. There is even a pit where visitors can trade their shoes.

So, it’s a big event. What makes Sneaker Con so important?

It made people aware of a culture they were a part of but had no idea existed.

For instance, you wouldn’t realize how many other people bird watch in your area until you join a bird watching club.

Sneaker Con showed fellow sneakerheads just how many people had the same passion as them. Aside from all the technology that enables this culture to exist, Sneaker Con was the creative inspiration that influenced others to capitalize and create subcultures.

Companies like Reshoevn8r and Crep Protect create products to clean, restore, and protect shoes. Paint manufacturers like Angelus create paint products specific to sneakers, which spurred an entire subculture of sneaker customizations. An artist like FREEHAND PROFIT created sneaker rendition gas masks.

Upon entering Sneaker Con today, you are instantly engulfed in the passion that exudes from everyone’s eager intentions. Some enter with a dozen shoes to trade, while others go to meet with other sneakerheads. But, overall the sneaker culture has entered a rocket ship of influence that isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Sneaker Con: Bridging Dreams and Reality

Without Sneaker Con, none of those other companies would’ve been possible at their current scale. Creativity isn’t about thinking up the next big idea out of thin air. It’s not about seeing into the future.

Creativity is about bridging the gap between what can exist and what currently exists, so people can easily transition. Creative inspiration is often sitting right in front of you, just with a different purpose. 

StockX, the NYSE of sneakers, needed a SneakerCon to make people believe in the size of sneaker culture.

Leonardo da Vinci was known to have outlandish inventions such as the flying machine…but this was in the 1400s. They didn’t have the means to power something like that, so people looked at him like a lunatic. His transition to reality–the internal combustion engine–wouldn’t be invented for another 400 years. Then 50 years later the Wright Brothers would take flight at Kitty Hawk.

People need to be able to clearly see your idea impacting their current life. We are creatures of habit that don’t change just to change.

Don’t stop dreaming and looking to the future, though. By all means, this is an important part of the creative process. You need to realize, however, that the creativity lies in being able to bridge the gap between their reality and your vision in the easiest way.

That’s one of the reasons I write with many analogies. There’s a better chance that what I’m trying to convey will hit someone where it matters. 

Find the analogies that allow people to resonate with your ideas, and your visions will come to life.

I’ve found that a lot of the latest advancements in technology struggle to resonate with their audience, even though they are very beneficial. That’s why I created Quick Theories–a brief, weekly newsletter of my thoughts on modern technology, how it’ll affect your life, and why you should adapt to these changes in your own creative way. I write Quick Theories so that you can better understand new technology and not feel overwhelmed. So, if that sounds up your alley, you can sign-up here: quicktheories.com

4 Comments

  • Tammy K Faria
    11 months ago

    Thank you for the great piece! I enjoy being exposed to different perspectives that add value to my thought process. Aloha!

  • Christopher Hanson
    11 months ago

    That closing remark is such a great sentence! I’ve added it to my ‘great quotes’ document 🙂

    “Find the analogies that allow people to resonate with your ideas, and your visions will come to life.”

    • 10 months ago

      Honored to be a part of your Greatest Quotes Soundtrack 🙏

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