Sneaker culture has truly become a global cultural phenomenon. Whether the casual enthusiast or hardcore sneakerhead’s fixation began with roots and influence from Hip Hop, Basketball, Fashion or elsewhere, to quote an excerpt cited in Episode 317 of The Monocle Weekly by the ubiquitous pigeon brand founder @jeffstaple:
“...sneakers mix all these different [other] subcultures into the fabric of their shoe and when they say fabric I mean the soul of their shoes so obviously sport is there, but then it’s also mixing in fashion - they are inspired by high fashion, they are inspired by music, they are inspired by technology and performance and, of course, the sport itself - you got all of these different cultures into this one product…”
We concur in that this is what arguably makes sneaker culture unexampled - it can serve as a status symbol and a rare collectible item, not to mention something comfortable to wear and perform in. Nowadays, it’s also become an investment and a bonafide hustle for this generation’s digital day trader, perfect example being Benjamin Kickz, a teenage sneaker mogul and supplier to @djkhaled. And with sneaker events and well curated boutiques helping to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical, we see the landscape ever evolving. As long as design and technology continue to intersect, brands shouldn't have any problem finding ways to supply the demand. Early adopters will continue to stay ahead of the curve and hype’s love-hate relationship will be alive and well. While the footwear landscape may change, there will likely be continued overall growth for years to come. Onward and upward with bumps in between not dissimilar to the stock market’s historical performance.
What Sparked the First ThinkPiece
Looking back on recent years, we’ve often wondered how sneakerheads have been able to acquire new releases prior to an official release date, also unofficially known as an Early Release or Pre-Release. It’s less surprising seeing an influencer with a considerable following rocking fresh joints early, but what about resellers and the average sneakerhead? Sneakerheads want to be the first to cop, so naturally, the marketplace void gets filled.
How prevalent really are Early Releases these days though? Currently on eBay, we’re noticing less Early Releases as compared to recent years. However, we’re noticing more Pre-Orders. Certain Early Release websites that were once active seem to have disappeared. On the flipside, we’re seeing alot of Unauthorized Authentic resellers on Instagram. Are Early Release resellers dwinding? Or are they becoming more savvy, re-positioning themselves and simply pitching their product differently?
Although we’re unclear whether Early Releases in the current sneaker marketplace are becoming more or less prevalent, the average sneakerhead is still being tempted and copping from time to time. Trying to understanding what the Early Release really is has led us to develop our own loose hypotheses.
The So-Called Early Release
In December of 2011, @nightwing2303, founder, owner and publisher of www.weartesters.com, uploaded a YouTube video addressing a pair of Early Release Air Jordan XI Cool Greys that he was misled to believe were real. Although we watched the video in its entirety, for those with a short attention span, we encourage at least cueing to around the 32:00 mark of this 40:00+ minute long video to view what we felt was most interesting - when NightWing2303 cuts open the sneaker and discovers an airbag without air. And although we’re still unsure how to exactly classify the Jordan XIs in NightWing2303’s video, that video as well as just seeing sneakerheads rock joints before the official release date got us thinking about Early Releases, how they are acquired, and ultimately how safe they may or may not be.
The reason Gary Hughes, a sneaker enthusiast, originally founded the DXC/Dunkxchange show was so fellow enthusiasts could buy, trade and sell in person. Taken directly from the www.thedxcshow.com website:
“I actually bought 3 pair of fake Heinekens Dunks from China online that cost me around $1400. I have a wife, kids and bills to pay. So, when I saved my money for sneakers, I wanted to get the kicks I was paying for. That’s when I came up with the idea for DXC/Dunkxchange. The name comes from one of my favorite shoes, the Nike Dunks, and I was inspired by my purchase of fake Heineken Dunks, the name DXC was created.”
There are a lot of comparison videos on YouTube. Whether it’s the ever-so-slight differences in the colorway and material, the feel of the box or wrapping paper, the carbon fiber weave on a particular Jordan, or the position and quality of the stitching, for sneakerheads, the details can make all the difference. There is even an Instagram account (@fake_education) with a significant following that is devoted to providing sneakerheads with comparison photos and tips between real and fake kicks.
(To Be Continued...)