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Fashion Feature: Transition of the Sneaker Industry

A black and white photo of Jordan 1 Retro OG sneakers
Photo by Daniel Y. Go/Creative Commons

The fashion industry has changed drastically over the past decade. Social media has made some luxury items more accessible, but it did not only change product accessibility—it also granted exposure for up-and-coming artists in the industry.

An essay about consumer motivations for choosing digital fashion media for information states, “The decrease of fashion magazine readership is due to the rise of an alternate form of free and instant fashion media. Consumers have not merely stopped searching for fashion information. They are going elsewhere. They are going online.”

Today’s streetwear enthusiasts often don't have degrees in fashion and simply use social media algorithms and platforms to sell their creations. This lessens the "hype" of new releases and decreases the exclusivity of luxury items.

Virgil Abloh was a key part of bringing streetwear into luxury fashion. In the words of Abloh: “I designed for the 17-year-old version of myself.” He witnessed firsthand the explosion of sneaker culture while living in Rockford, Illinois. During these years, the Chicago Bulls team was at its peak with star Michael Jordan on the team. Him living in this time period not only signifies the importance behind the Chicago Jordan 1 silhouette, it’s also what inspired him to go into fashion.

Sneaker culture was once a time of excitement, with fans eager to see what was going to be in store next. Seeing shoes that reflected favorite basketball teams, star players and references to star players allowed sneakerheads to show off their interests on the streets. Shoe designs have come to reflect hobbies, exclusiveness and, most importantly, yourself.

Waiting outside in line for hours to be the first to get your hands on a $125 pair of shoes contributed to cult followings and massive collections. Many fashion enthusiasts will remember walking past a Foot Locker and seeing the new Jordans. People were mesmerized, but left empty-handed and envious of those who obtained them. Another cherished memory of sneaker culture’s peak included seeing someone your age sporting your favorite shoes inspired and created by monumental figures like Abloh.

Missing out on being unable to buy a sold-out sneaker or sold-out clothing collection isn’t a problem anymore. Now, anyone can order any shoe they’d like, whenever they’d like it. With help from social media, the resale community has become so powerful that you can no longer experience going into franchise sneaker stores and grabbing the hottest shoe with retail prices. People are spending less money to buy more things, which is decreasing the value of things that were previously considered exclusive.

Streetwear culture isn’t just a closet filled with sneakers that are worth more than a car, it’s about what that sneaker means to you. The community now agrees that this generation will never be able to experience the joy and gratitude of finally obtaining the sneaker of your dreams.

By Melissa Taylor, Staff Writer

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Tiani Hinnant
Tiani Hinnant
Mar 04, 2022

I must say the backstory behind sneakerhead/streetwear culture is superb. This is a great article and I hope it educate many individuals. You can brag about throwing an streetwear outfit together but DON'T EVER FORGET those items that build up the outfit came from somewhere. There is history behind the color, size, stitching, styling etc. We may recreate things to fit our own narrative but it is nice to acknowledge the past especially when it was sooo popular. I personally never got those new releases but I was a witness to the culture's rise and unfortunate downfall. This generation will be missing a lot because of the technology and mindset they were "blessed with"

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