The Sneaker Obsession

Anthony Siegrist — Staff Writer

Ray Badudu, a 2019 Dordt College graduate, arrives at the Fruited Plain coffee shop wearing an outfit that is deceivingly simple, but ultimately premediated—like a magician with a hundred tricks up his sleeve—so that his Adidas Stan Smith sneakers match with his Adidas Original shirt by Pharrell Williams. His ripped jeans act as a median between the two—which is why Badudu makes sure to roll them up so that the shoes can be on full display.

“I think one thing I love about sneakers is that it says a lot about you. Like when you look at someone’s outfit, you don’t look at it from the top down,” said Badudu. “It always starts from the shoe.”

sneakers

Though it’s just a piece of rubber on your feet with three stripes or a swoosh on the side, today the connotations of wearing a rare or coveted sneaker are vast. Sneakers possess the ability to create admiration for the owner, or sometimes disgust—like owning a million-dollar Ferrari. Not all people will respect the decision to purchase a pair of Kanye West’s ultra-popular Yeezy’s, which usually retail for $220, for over a thousand dollars on the resale market.

For those who are lucky enough to get their hands on a pair of rare or limited release sneakers, those sneakers often go right into storage and don’t come out until they have quadrupled in price— which may take years, or not happen at all. The world has succumbed to the viral craze for sneakers, specifically in the online market. Launches for limited release sneakers or for rare colorways draw crowds desperate to get their hands on a pair. It is estimated that the sneaker resale market could be worth $6 billion globally by 2025.

For some, the sneaker industry can be a baffling enigma. But it’s not hard to solve the mystery of how this industry got its start listening to Badudu excitedly talk about sneaker culture and the most sought-after releases.

“It’s just being intentional about [what you wear],” said Badudu. “Some people like keeping their shoes pristine—me—and some people like to have the beat-up look. Not only does [the shoe] speak of the character of the person, but the shoe itself has character.”

In only a short period of time, resale marketplaces like StockX or GOAT have taken the sneaker industry by storm. These resellers allow buyers to make an offer on an item, which the seller can then accept or choose to sell to the highest bidder instead. Finally, the seller ships the item to the marketplace so that the shoes can be authenticated and shipped to the buyers—but not before the company takes a hefty sum for its commission.

To buy and sell on StockX’s, one of the industry’s leading online marketplaces, the company requires a 3% processing fee, plus a transaction fee that ranges from 8% to 9.5% for sneakers based on the seller’s activity level on the website. Though founded in 2016, StockX has already reached a valuation of $1 Billion, with no signs of slowing down.

Some analysists attribute the recent sneaker craze to the increasing evolution of the workplace, as clothes and shoes become more and more casual. And as the trend grew, luxury brands like Gucci or Prada took notice and started to fashion themselves a new breed of out-of-this-world sneakers—with insane prices to match.

Whether it’s chunky “Dad shoes” or the return of 90s fashion into the spotlight, sneaker trends jump sporadically all over the board—but, it comes back full-circle to the individual.

“The truth is I just enjoy [the sneaker culture],” said Badudu. “It’s something I love; that’s it.”

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