Sneaker Collector: Your Guide to Becoming a Sneakerhead

Whether you're in it for profit, for fun, or for showcasing your style, this is your guide to becoming a sneakerhead.

Sneaker Collector

The Modern Sneaker Collector

While people have been fans of footwear for generations, the term “sneakerhead” takes that love for shoes one step further. Sneakerheads are people who love sneakers and love to collect them. If you’ve found yourself entranced by a certain design or have fallen in love with a brand, you’re not alone. This guide will help you dip your toes into the sneaker collector pool and start your journey as a collector.

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Famous Sneakerheads

Sneaker culture is booming in popularity. It’s hitting the mainstream and is regularly guided by the rich and famous. Many celebrities have collections, collaborations, and wear the latest - and most expensive - designs. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to join the sneakerhead community. You can take note from these great celebrity collectors and then start a collection of your own.

Kylie Jenner

Kylie Jenner previously had an exclusive deal with Adidas to be a brand ambassador. After that deal expired, it wasn’t long before Kylie was spotted wearing highly sought-after Nike kicks - some reselling online for upwards of $10,000. From Air Jordan 1s to Nike SB dunks, Kylie has always made the connections needed to get her hands on hard-to-find kicks. Kylie’s popularity as a sneakerhead has only grown following massive ongoing Travis Scott x Nike collaborations.

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DJ Khaled

It’s been reported that DJ Khaled has an $8 million sneaker collection consisting of approximately 10,000 pairs. That wasn’t a typo, the rapper has one of the most extensive shoe collections with kicks including custom Air Jordan 1s, Adidas Yeezy Boost 750s, Nike Lebron 10s, and around 10,000 others. But Khaled’s personal collection isn’t where he focuses his attention as a sneakerhead; he’s currently building the largest sneaker collection in the world for Asahd, his son.

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Jason Sudeikis

If you’re surprised Jason Sudeikis made the list, you’re not alone. He’s typically not the first celebrity that pops in your head when you think of a sneakerhead unless you have an eagle eye with his paparazzi photos or when he’s courtside at NBA games. He attributes his love of sneakers to his pre-fame days when he owned a pair of “Chicago” Air Jordan 1 Highs in grade school and now owns hundreds of pairs of Jordans.

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PJ Tucker

If you follow the NBA in the slightest, you know PJ Tucker’s game day means a plethora of shoes to watch. From his arrival at the arena to court, to the breaks, and the boardroom, Tucker is styled in a new pair of kicks. In fact, he often wears up to four pairs of sneakers each game. Off the court, Tucker has an extensive shoe collection including a $50,000 pair of Nikes.

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Teyana Taylor

Teyana Taylor is a triple threat having made a name for herself as a singer, actress, and dancer, but aside from her talents, she’s a known sneakerhead. Her top five shoes include Air Jordan 3 “Black/Cement,” Air Jordan 12 “Playoffs,” Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam,” Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey,” and the Adidas Mutombo. Her latest shoe venture is a collaboration with Reebok, creating shoes that are unique and confident in style designed to empower women to express themselves.

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Sneaker Terms - Know The Talk

If you’re ready to become a true sneakerhead, you need to learn the jargon and lingo to fit into the culture. Looking and being legit starts by knowing the community lingo. Here are a few terms to help you make sense of it all.

Purchasing Terms

  • BIN: Buy It Now
  • Cop: To successfully buy a pair of sneakers
  • Drop: A new sneaker release (typically limited and hyped)
  • L: A loss (failure to cop)

Shoe Specific Terms

  • Silhouettes: The design of a sneaker
  • Deadstock: A pair of sneakers never worn or tried on. These sneakers have stayed in the box, factory laced since purchase.
  • Crispy: When the sneaker is impeccably clean
  • Kicks: Another word for sneakers (also commonly called trainers, creps/crepes)
  • Lows: Sneakers that sit below the ankle
  • Hightops: Sneakers that rise above the ankle

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People

  • Sneakerhead: A true sneaker aficionado. A collector. Much more than a reseller.
  • Reseller: Someone who purchases as many limited-release sneakers as possible with the intent of selling them for profit.
  • Bot: This is software that quickens the checkout process to purchase sneakers faster than possible by any human. The users of the bot then resell to get a higher profit.

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Sneaker Care - Know The Walk

Now that you’re in the know with your sneakerhead lingo, it’s time to explore the best way to care for the kicks once they’re in your possession.

What Are Your Shoes For?

There are multiple ways that you can become a true sneaker collector. Some choose to wear new kicks every day, some for rare occasions only, and others just for show. Either way, know your end goal with the sneakers before purchasing them. This way, you can be prepared to store them properly or have cleaning plans made ahead of time if you wear them out.

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Just be prepared, sneakers take up a lot of space. Many sneakerheads allocate an entire room in their home (sometimes more) to their collection.

How To Clean Your Shoes

If you’re looking to keep your kicks crispy for as long as possible, start by spritzing your fresh box of sneakers with a hydrophobic barrier. This can be anything from Scotchgard or Repel Spray, whichever you prefer. Just be sure that you follow the instructions as not all sprays are safe indoors.

Next, if you’re planning on wearing your shoes out be prepared to clean them of dirt and debris after each time out. There are specially designed brushes online to clean and polish delicate materials, like leather and suede. You can also use a specially formulated shoe cleaning wipe, shoe cleaning solution or a small amount of water with a mild liquid detergent to remove stains and wear.

How To Store Your Shoes

Regardless of your intent with the shoes, you’re going to want to ensure they’re properly stored. Avoid keeping your sneakers in a garage or attic. These places tend to have extreme temperature swings from too cold in the winter to scorching in the summer. This can cause your shoes to crack, dry out, or turn moldy – completely ruining them.

Instead, consider keeping them in a place that has a consistent temperature. You can use spaces like under the bed, in your closet, or convert a spare room into a shoe haven. Shelves and racks can allow you to showcase your collection if you’d prefer it to be seen, or you can hide them away. There’s no right or wrong way to appreciate your collection.

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Sneaker Scams, Silhouettes, and Stocks - What To Watch For

Unfortunately, with all the popularity behind sneaker culture, there are vultures that can scam you. There are also other things to keep a watchful eye on throughout your collection journey.

Drop Dates

As we learned in the lingo above, drop dates are when limited shoes are released with a much-anticipated hype. If you’re looking for a new sneaker to add to your collection, you’ll want to follow sites like The Drop Date, Kicks on Fire, and similar apps that provide detailed listings on drops. You can also follow Instagram and Twitter accounts – like What’s Dropping and The Hype Leaks – that have a nearly endless amount of knowledge on when and where drops are happening.

Classics

Having a few OG staples in your collection isn’t a bad idea. After all, who doesn’t want at least a few iconic pieces in their collection?

Air Jordan 1

These shoes made their first appearance in 1984, worn by rookie Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan. You know the story, Jordan became a legend and his shoes continue to keep that iconic status.

Nike Air Force 1

This revolutionary shoe was created in 1982 as a high-top sneaker. It was the first basketball shoe that featured Nike’s Air cushioning. It’s been highlighted in top songs from rappers like Jay-Z and Nelly.

Nike Air Max 1

Another revolutionary shoe from Nike was created in 1987 when the company decided to show off the inner workings of the Air cushioning system and make it visible. The progressive design gave the brand a boost, and became a collector's favorite.

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Market Prices

Unsure if you have a great deal or not? If you aren’t sure of the going rates, you could be wasting your money. Or, if you’ve found a pair with a spectacular deal and sit on it for too long you could lose out on a crispy pair of kicks. Utilize resources to keep up to date on market prices so you know when you’re getting a good deal or when you’d be taken advantage of.

Fakes

Fakes are out there. For decades you’ve likely heard about fake handbags flooding the market. Well, handbags aren’t the only snakes out there. Sneaker fakes are flooding the market. If you’re buying from a reselling site, be sure it’s one that has guaranteed authenticity. If you’re using sites like eBay or other resellers without authenticity guaranteed, make sure you’re doing your due diligence. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you look at the box, ask for pictures and videos of the box and shoes, check the tags and labels, and research and check the SKU and factory code. If you want to be an expert, you’ll need to learn how to sniff out fakes.

Buying Sneakers - Where to Look

Are you hyped up and ready to start your collection? Now’s the time to start looking at reputable sources for your purchases. Consider the following places.

StockX

StockX is one of the quickest ways to find and buy authentic sneakers. You can find the hottest sneakers and throwbacks on this platform.

Is it free to sign up? Yes
Is it safe? Yes, StockX is a secure and trusted site
What type of sales? BIN

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GOAT

GOAT is a global platform that acts as a middleman between buyers and resellers. They have a rigorous authentication process, so you can be sure that the sneakers you’re purchasing are not fake.

Is it free to sign up? Yes
Is it safe? Yes, GOAT is a trusted platform
What type of sales? BIN

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Nike SNKRS

If Nike is your preferred brand, stay up to date on the latest with the Nike SNKRS app. Release dates, launch calendars, and insider access can all be found here.

Is it free to sign up? Yes
Is it safe? Yes, Nike is a highly-trusted brand
What type of sales? BIN

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eBay

eBay is a well-known brand that sells everything from dishwares to cars – and of course sneakers. People looking to buy new and used sneakers can find them on eBay, but make sure you’re checking the authentication. The good news is that transactions are secure and the buyer is protected with eBay.

Is it free to sign up? Yes
Is it safe? Yes, the site and transactions are secure
What type of sales? Auction and BIN options

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Confirmed - Adidas

Looking for direct access and curated drops from premium Adidas collections? The Confirmed Adidas app is where you want to explore. You’ll find exclusive collaborations and first-run sneakers here, and Adidas boasts they keep away the bots.

Is it free to sign up? Yes
Is it safe? Yes, Confirmed Adidas is a trusted website
What type of sales? BIN

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Enjoy the Sneakerhead Journey

There’s no “right way” to become a sneakerhead. Whether you have millions of dollars in the bank or are saving up for your favorite kicks, you can start your collection in a way that’s meaningful to you. Just remember, collections take time to build and can’t be curated overnight. As a collector, you’ll need to invest in not only the sneakers but storage and cleaning for them as well. But with the right energy and effort, you can live the life of a true sneakerhead, and join its global community of collectors.

FAQ

Q: What is a sneakerhead person?
A: A sneakerhead is a person who is a sneaker (or tennis shoe) enthusiast.

Q: Is sneakerhead a culture?
A: Sneakerhead is a culture where people who love collecting, buying, and selling sneakers can immerse themselves.

Q: Who is the biggest sneakerhead?
A: As of publishing this guide, the biggest celebrity sneakerhead is DJ Khaled with a whopping 10,000 pairs.