The Sneaker Freaks

Sneaker Exchange proves that the SA sneaker scene is alive and kicking

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photographs: Chisanga Mubanga

Sneaker fetishism is a culture unto its own, and like those people who line up outside of stores waiting for limited edition drops, our in-house sneakerhead Devon Daniels is a sole searcher of the highest order.

bowii_glitch wears Puma Basket Dee & Ricky

After convincing the Superbalist brass to allow him to set up shop at last weekend’s Sneaker Exchange, Dev showed off some of Superbalist’s freshest kicks and between taking in performances from the likes of AKA, Mashayabhuqe, Nomuzi Mabena, Prinston, Vato Kayde, DJ Speedsta, JJ Fresh, DJ Switch and Ready D, rubbed shoulders with other big names in the sneaker game, which included Hayden Manuel rocking a pair of creamy Air Jordan 2 Retro ‘Just Don’ (a shoe so special it comes packaged in a display cabinet).

a.vizer wears adidas Yeezy 350 Boost Oxford Tan

According to Dev the Yeezy resale game is still strong, but there are just as many people wearing them. In fact, TWoU photographer Chisanga Mubanga told us about a kid he met on the day who’d won the Yeezy raffle in Russia (because the shoes are so limited you must first enter a raffle with only the lucky winners allowed to purchase a pair), flew over to cop his pair and then instead of reselling them for ten times their value wore them to the event.

naaz._ wears adidas Originals Stan Smith

Most surprising is how this is actually quite normal for the subculture who share a common parlance that comprises: limited edition, small run, sample stock, Japan only, ticks, swooshes, stripes, trefoils, dead stock in a box, factory variants, customs, artist collaborations, celebrity hook ups, player-prototypes, retro-reissues, velcro straps, fat laces, Quickstrike, Hyperstrike…

LordVeezus wears New Balance 998 MUSA

The sneakerhead seeks out and amasses sneakers with a feverish intensity bordering on obsessive behavior and most collectors won’t even wear their shoes and instead store them in temperature-regulated environments. Sneakerheads then wax lyrical on design, enter heated debates over brand allegiance and know every subtle difference between year, season and edition when it comes to a pair of shoes.

co.dean wears Nike Air Force 1 Hi Suede

Because the sneaker game is all about exclusivity, you have to stay two steps ahead to remain fresh, and the manufacturers toy with this need by turning out limited edition runs where they’ll only make a couple of thousand pairs, or 100, or 10. A one-off release is worth its weight in gold.

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davinia_j wears Nike Air Huarache Run

Sneakerheads feel nothing to drop huge amounts of cash on a pair of shoes, after all, it’s an investment, and collecting either vintage or special edition shoes has become a burgeoning market where a pair of trainers can sell for ludicrous figures on the resale market.

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tiago_c_martins wears adidas x Rick Owens

That's the point of Sneaker Exchange – if you own a pair of sneakers that you’d like to sell or trade, you simply bring them along and find yourself a buyer or someone to trade with.

just_infinity_13 wears Air Jordan X Chicago

Look around: the footwear industry is running wild. Sole searchers are scoring unique sneaks and even Joe Average doesn’t want the same kicks that the other guy is wearing. If the shoe fits wear it, and if not, then just buy it for the mantelpiece or even as a nest egg.

african_ginger wears Nike Janoski

While it’s strange to think that some of these sneakers will probably never even step onto a street, and will change hands instead of covering feet, it’s exciting to think that the humble sneaker has become a commodity that can be traded for profit like a stock.

andilekhwaphuna wears Nike Air Max 95 OG Neon Safari