The average pair of sneakers costs between $50 to $60, but there is a community of ASU students who are willing to drop a paycheck or two on higher-end sneakers.
These often limited edition shoes can be sold for more than $800 on the aftermarket. Whether they are basketball shoes by Nike, running shoes from Adidas or runway fashion-oriented sneakers from designers such as Gucci and Maison Margiela, some students dedicate a lot of time and money to this hobby.
Blake Roberson, a sophomore sports business major, identifies as a sneakerhead and says he has been into collecting sneakers since he was in the seventh grade.
“At first it was really about looking good at school ... I simply started with nothing super expensive, stuff like Old Skool Vans and some Nike Roshe’s — shoes that were not super expensive, but definitely made the outfit pop," he said, while sporting Air Jordan 4 Retro Motorsports.
Roberson said his interest in shoes evolved into more of a passion and he began buying shoes for their style instead of their functionality. He said he believes the Phoenix and Tempe areas are an underrated part of the country involved in sneaker culture.
“(When) you go around (Phoenix) you’re going to see a lot more people wearing nice shoes and having a collection of shoes," Roberson said. "And instead of going out and buying shoes as a necessity to walk and protect your feet, it’s for a styling aspect.”
Roberson said the aspect of exclusivity of shoes has a huge impact on the community. Recently, more sneaker companies are limiting the stock of their drops, such as the Off-White and Nike collaborations.
“I think the releases should be the way it is now," he said. "It creates a want, it creates a passion to get the shoes. It really gets more people involved.”
Read more: Streetwear hype is prevalent on ASU's campus
UNDEFEATED, a sneaker and streetwear store located in downtown Phoenix, sells limited edition sneakers and is a hub for local sneakerheads.
Jimmy Gutierrez, who works at UNDEFEATED, said he meets customers of all ages who come in and shop for nice sneakers. He said sneaker culture is becoming more mainstream because of the accessibility of buying secondhand sneakers.
"You can tell that some kids really care about this stuff," Gutierrez said. "Some people come in here that are 60, 70 years old and are still buying shoes. I can tell they've been doing that for years, and they're still buying stuff that isn't 'hype.' They just like it."
Wang’s Closet, a streetwear resale and consignment store in Tempe, serves a similar crowd of sneaker lovers.
Lonzo Soto and Justin Gray, employees at Wang’s Closet, also said that the Phoenix area is an underappreciated hub for sneakerhead culture, which is one of the reasons for the store's location.
“(Phoenix) is super underrated, man,” Soto said, “We kind of wanted to bring everybody out and see where it goes from there, and honestly, we’re doing great.”
Soto and Gray also said that social media is the biggest contributor to sneaker culture becoming a more mainstream hobby in recent years.
“I’d say (Phoenix) has potential to be like L.A., or New York, or London, but I don’t know (that) any time soon it will be," Gray said. "It definitely has the potential.”
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