The term “sneaker culture” holistically refers to the global obsession a sneaker – a type of footwear – has garnered for itself. Sneakerheads have had a major role to play in this development. A sneakerhead is someone who collects sneakers more as a hobby than for functional purposes. And he’s the one who usually waits in queue outside a store whenever a new ‘special edition’ sneaker model is released.

Image credit: Flickr
Image credit: Flickr

Before the sneaker culture, athletic shoes were only considered performance shoes. The shoes had no unique charm, design or personality. When men’s footwear companies realized the youth liked wearing the shoes of their favorite basketball players, they grabbed on to the trend and revamped the performance or athletic shoe image. The shoe, as a result, made its way outside the basketball courts, onto the streets of America and other parts of the world.


Sneakers have been around ever since mid-19th century. However, their popularity grew multi-folds with basketball shoes getting increasingly embraced by urban American centers, thereby giving birth to the sneaker culture. Sneaker firms, such as Converse, introduced the celebrity endorsement concept and have ever since continued to benefit from fame-based brand promotions and marketing. The high-achieving NBA athletes started selling sneakers fast and hard to kids of inner American cities, thus giving birth to the sneaker culture.

Sneaker adulation reached a completely new level during the ‘80s and 90s when black musicians and athletes took to the shoes. When specific basketball players, such as Michael Jordan, and rap artists wore sneakers, they gave consumers reasons to choose a particular sneaker brand over the other.

Stock Market & Popularity

The sneaker culture has also given rise to secondary or resale sneaker market. In fact, the sneaker market is so established and widespread, it also has a dedicated stock market – StockX. The stock market has more than 20,000 sneaker pairs listed. Special edition or limited edition sneakers – both old and new – may run up to several thousand dollars.  

Sneaker culture is here to stay, provided hip-hop and basketball stars continue to influence buyers. And the secondary market is a sign that sneakers will soon dominate the footwear industry.