Thousands of “sneakerheads” will spend as much as £3,000 on circumscribed edition trainers this weekend, at a south-east London anyway in the reality billed as Europe’s biggest trainer convention.
This is the at the start time that Sneakerness, which was launched a decade ago in Switzerland and has proceeded to cities including Amsterdam and Johannesburg – has arrived in the UK, where organisers surmise it to attract between 3,000 and 5,000 people.
One trainer pose in – the Nike Air Jordan 1 Off-White in a new blue and white “North Carolina” colourway – is credible to become the most in-demand of the convention, according to Sergio Congregation, managing director and co-founder of Sneakerness. The style sold out directly when it was released through retailers last week, priced at surrounding $190 (£144). It is tipped to fetch between £1,000 and £1,500 at the experience, where it will be sold by private collectors.
Other rare shoes will take in the Nike Air Max Parra x Patta Cherrywood, likely to fetch far £3,000, as well as the Kanye West-designed Adidas Yeezy 350 V2 Butter. The bulbous “Dad trainer” craze – the anti-fashion footwear silhouette of the moment – will also be big tidings, says Muster, with the Yeezy Wave Runner a key high style that collectors will be looking out for.
The grass enthusiast market has heated up to boiling point in recent years, only just as general trainer sales have soared. In the luxury shop, trainers have become the tentpoles propping up big designer brands: purchases were up 10% last year to $4bn, according to consultancy Bain, outperforming a 5% upgrade in the overall luxury market. Notable sellout styles allow for Versace’s $920 collaboration with trainer app Goat, and the Balenciaga Triple S miniature, priced at £615. In the mainstream, an acceptance of increasingly casual put on clothing codes has seen millions wear trainers by Nike and Adidas on nights out and to the chore. Where the 90s had the “it” bag and the 00s the high-heeled “it” shoe, the trainer has become this decade’s consummate status item, reflecting an age in which exercise and fleet-of-foot assuage have become highly aspirational.
Sneakerness’s demographic is generally 16- to 24-year-olds and 70% of its attendees are male, Muster estimates. Numberless of these fans spend months saving for trainers, or “top” pairs they already own for a profit. They will also get in for hours or enter online raffles in order to get hold of the calls they covet.
Courses are moving faster than ever, thanks to the rapid rate of social media. Muster says: “If Drake wears a yoke of Jordans today then everyone will want Jordans on Saturday.” Allowing sneakerheads’ dedication is a cut above anything seen in the mainstream, their fondness has a ripple effect. Their favourite designer, says Muster, is Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, who was recently ordained artistic director of menswear at the world’s biggest luxury maker, Louis Vuitton.
Kish Kash, a self-described “trainer archivist” with at paltry a couple of thousand pairs, who is Sneakerness’s UK country manager, requires trainer culture is about much more than securing and selling. There is a collegiate atmosphere at the event, he says, with a panoply of sneakerhead-friendly bustles – including shoe cleaning and authenticity checks, as well as banks and screens to watch the World Cup.
The sneaker world, he says, is on touching preservation of culture and an “appreciation of an aesthetic – people gravitating on the way the same thing. It’s a fascinating anthropological study. We are human, we eat passions. We want to create a world around us that is not lustreless. We want to brighten up the place.”