A Walk in the Shoes of a Sneakerhead

By Joel Aybar • Sep 11th, 2013 • Category: Features

Ever since the mid-1980s, kids have clamored for the new pair of Air Jordans. People used to wait in line overnight, often in the cold and rain, to make sure they got their size. And while the craze hasn’t died down for Jordans and many other kinds of sneakers, it’s possible to get a new pair without getting frostbite too.

Now, people wait for the sneaker “online,” ready to drop anywhere from $160-$800 for a single pair, in a single click.

The sites that sell the sneakers usually freeze because of the sudden spike in traffic when the sneakers become available to the public, usually at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. To beat the competition, some websites, such as JimmyJazz.com, release their sneakers at midnight.

The Internet has also helped create a new “club” of sorts — people who refer to themselves as “sneakerheads.”

Sneakerheads range in age from pre-teen to middle-age. They buy, sell, and trade sneakers online or at sneaker conventions held throughout the country.

Thirty-two year old Anthony Andriano of Ozone Park, Queens, is a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead.” He’s been a collector since 1986, when he got his first pair of LA Gear sneakers from his mother, and he’s been selling sneakers since 2002. “It’s new to a lot of people, but for me it’s pretty much not new,” he says.

Andriano has seen the demand for sneakers go up in the past five years, a trend he attributes to social media.

“I probably could have bought a house, or a brand new car and a house,” says Andriano as he thinks about how much money he has spent on sneakers over the years–approximately $1,000 per month, he estimates.

Andriano claims he owns about 80 to a 100 pairs of sneakers worth hundreds, some even thousands, of dollars. He works as a janitor in Battery City Park, a job that doesn’t pay enough to support his hobby, so he sells sneakers.

Andriano claims the most he has ever paid for a sneaker is $400 for the Nike Area 72 Charles Barkley Chuck Posites, which were a size too big. “I couldn’t even get the size I wanted. I bought it and luckily my friend who needed the 9.5 had an 8.5 so we just swapped sneakers,” he says. “And the most I ever sold sneakers for was for a $1000 and it was literally in three and a half minutes, for the (Nike) Galaxy Foam Posites.”

As 33-year-old Mikey Loso, of Queens, points out, “It’s not about who dresses the freshest. It’s about who can get the latest sneaker. It’s like a race. That’s where the obsession comes from.”

Loso, a sneakerhead since the early 90s, says his obsession with shoes came from his mother. He says his mother, who also had an obsession with shoes–heels, mostly–would buy him sneakers every time he did well in school as incentive.

“At one point I had over 385 pairs of sneakers,” Loso says. “I had what you call a ‘mural’ or a ‘mountain’ of sneakers.”

Today, Loso is down to “anywhere from 80 to 60 pairs.”

“The life of a sneakerhead is always crazy,” he says. “Sometimes you buy a lot, and sometimes you sell a lot. Depends on what is happening in your life at the moment. When I broke up with my girl and she moved out I had to pay bills without her so I sold a lot.”

But like many die-hard sneakerheads, he isn’t about to quit. “My collection is getting up there again,” he says. “Slowly, but it’s getting up there.”

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