I am very fortunate to be included in a handful of various communities. Financial planning communities, culinary communities, Peloton/exercise communities and even a formal, local dog park community. However, my first experience with an organized community was that of the Sneakerhead community. What is a ‘Sneakerhead’ you may ask? A Sneakerhead is a collector of limited released sneakers, typically basketball-related, with the most well-known brand (sub-brand) being the Jordan Retro collection. While there are other brands that Sneakerheads covet, such as Yeezy’s, it’s the history and design of the Jordan Retros that still captivates me today.
As a brief history, Nike and Michael Jordan released the ‘Jordan 1’ in 1985. There are fascinating articles and documentaries on how this brand began and the savvy business strategies that Jordan and his team executed on Day 1 to build the multi-billion dollar business that it is today. Year-after-year, Jordan would continue to release a new shoe in chronological order and always wore a different variation of that year’s sneaker in each game. For example, the infamous Jordan dunk from the foul line was done wearing the Jordan 3’s. Each retro sneaker (1 – 26) is ingrained in different moments in history, all tied to pop-culture and athletics, which is why Sneakerheads have cultivated such a unique community.
Without knowing it, my first Jordan Retro purchase was paid for by my First Communion money—the Jordan 4’s in the Military Blue colorway, which were re-released that year. This was well before there was a defined Sneakerhead community. Like all other sneakers, I trashed them over the course of a couple years and that was that. It was not until Syracuse University’s own Carmelo Anthony entered the NBA and the subsequent Jordan PE’s (player-exclusives) created for Melo, that I became an avid collector of the Retros. I mowed lawns, washed cars, built rock walls—anything I could do to earn some scraps to then spend at Finish Line for the latest Jordan sneaker releases. At this point, without the existence of platforms such as Facebook, I was limited to collector-talk/buying and trading with friends and family. However, by the time I had a real job lifeguarding in high school, the Sneakerhead Facebook community was BOOMING. People from all around the world would share their collections, from the standard Retro releases, to PE’s that were limited to less than 20 pairs—some of which, even Jordan himself had trouble getting his hands on.
Simply put, the Sneakerhead community had broadened my horizons, introduced me to new people and exposed me to many good, and a few not so good situations during my buy/sell/trade activities. Unfortunately (or fortunately from my fiancé’s perspective), my sneaker procurement has been virtually nonexistent since graduating college—and to be frank, it has bummed me out, especially recently. However, with the sudden arrival of three nieces and two nephews on the way, my sneaker appreciation and plans have evolved. No longer are my sneakers collecting dust, lacking any purpose. Now, they are still collecting dust, but waiting to be passed on to the next generation, whether they like it or not. In the meantime, I have been scouring the community for Retros in toddler sizes for birthday gifts. And since my niece Harper can’t read yet, I am comfortable sharing her present from Uncle Tommy (‘Uncle Tahmmayyy’ as she pronounces it) come September: a pair of the Jordan 13s in the Lakers colorway. Though this may be sacrilegious as a Celtics fan, I am not willing to risk the physical retribution I would receive from my brother-in-law should I gift anything other than Laker purple & gold.