How Social Media and Tech Impacted Sneaker Culture

Hollister x Air Force Ones x 2008

Hollister x Air Force Ones x 2008

As a 90s kid in the south, there was literally nothing like getting a fresh pair of Air Force Ones to wear to school on your first day of class (Thanks Nelly!). Sitting in your room coordinating your outfit and making sure you had the sock-to-space ratio in the toe just right to prevent creases was as necessary as having a custom name belt from the state fair (North Carolina kids will understand).

For some, getting a hold of your favorite pair of sneakers was not as difficult as it proves to be today. Heading to Champs or Finish Line (remember them?) to get a great pair of sneakers or waiting in line on Jordan release day was simple (before the violence of course) compared to the bots, raffles, and apps we have to use today in order to simply get a pair of shoes we have had our eyes on for months.

While sneakers have not necessarily taken a hit by fast fashion, social media and fashion/sneaker blogs have made it easier to see that more and more people have a keen interest in colorful and trendy sneakers, even though they probably did not have the same attraction to them before social. For example, I know that some look at Complex’s “Sneaker Shopping” YouTube show and social channels solely dedicated to sneakers as a way to simply get clicks and views since some of their guests do not live and breathe the sneaker culture that came out of hip hop and basketball.

On the other hand, sneaker culture plays a huge role in the way we shop for sneakers on social media.

Just a few weeks ago we all saw Instagram announce a new feature that allows select brands to introduce product launches on their accounts. When Instagram users are presented with the teaser, they can then set a reminder and prepare to purchase the product when it is time. When I read this, my mind immediately thought of Saturday morning sneaker releases, so you could just imagine my face when I saw the official Instagram announcement was in partnership with Adidas. Run-DMC should be proud.

Instagram is far from the the only app or tech that is in on the sneaker game. Earlier this year we saw Foot Locker invest $100 million in GOAT, StockX become valued at $1 billion, and GOAT go on to create a separate version of their app just for their customers in China. The Wall Street Journal also reported this year that the ”resale market for sneakers and streetwear is more than $2 billion in North America.” (tweet this)

While some parts of the sneaker world changed (like seeing ads for StockX when playing Candy Crush and the ability to virtually try on sneakers like Alexander’s post below), we of course saw some things remain the same. One example is the continued hype for Yeezy’s even after Kanye West’s many shenanigans on social media in recent years. The rapper and designer was still listed at number three on the 2019 Forbes Celebrity 100 list mainly due to the fact that he reportedly makes 15% from each pair of Yeezy’s sold on wholesale. Wowzers.

With so much happening in the sneaker world, I took the time to reach out to a few of my favorite sneaker enthusiasts to learn more about sneaker culture, reselling, what a sneakerhead actually is, and the results of the checks over stripes debate.



Christian Scott

Just like Christian, I am not crazy about some of the luxury sneakers out here, especially the Archlights from Louis Vuitton. However, I know a few Christians who are about that life...

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What is your go-to classic sneaker?

The Jordan I. It is really versatile and has several dope colorways. The silhouette is so clean it looks good however you style it.

Favorite sneaker of “today”?

I have been really into the Nike Flyknit Racer lately. It is light and really comfortable, so perfect for every day use. It helps that is has an affordable price tag too.

What is the summer 2019 release you are looking forward to the most?

At first it was the Travis Scott x Jordan I, but now I have my eyes on the Cool Grey Jordan IVs. I can remember wanting to have those back in high school so I have got to get my hands on them this time.

What are your thoughts on luxury (Gucci, Chanel, etc.) sneakers? Yay or nay?

Personally, they are not really my thing. I am not a huge fan of the "dad shoe" wave because I think they look awkward and clunky most times, but hey if you can dress it up and you feel confident in them go for it.

How has social media impacted sneaker culture? Has social media ruined it? Why?

Social media has had an impact on how we view everything so sneakers are no different. For me, finding new sneakers was always about culture and self-expression. It was fun to look ahead to release dates and go camp out in front of a store for a major release or to find a cheap pair of kicks on an outlet shelf and rock them all the same.

These days because of the reseller market you do not really stand a chance to get your hands on a new drop without an inside plug or the help of a bot and everybody is wearing the same thing because they want the validation of getting likes. It will be interesting to see how things will continue to evolve as people get more obsessed with providing "like-able" content and care less about the knowledge of sneaker culture.

What is a sneakerhead? Has social media made it easier for people to appear to be sneakerheads?

To me, a sneakerhead is anyone who wants to learn about the culture of sneakers. You can be a sneakerhead with one pair of shoes or 100 (tweet this). Social media has given people the ability to portray a specially constructed image of themselves to the world so it is a lot easier to appear to be a sneakerhead now if you can get your hands on something popular and find a nice camera. Would you still buy that pair if you could not post it online? Do whatever makes you happy but do it because you like that confidence a nice pair of sneakers gives you and not because somebody else told you it is cool.


Stephen Hoggard

While we are all familiar with Michael Jordan and his impact on Nike, celebrity and designer collaborations easily help each footwear manufacturer shine and create an unbelievable buzz on every social channel they are present on..

Stephen Hoggard The Content Plug Sneaker Culture.JPG

What is your go-to classic sneaker?

My go-to classic is the Air Jordan 1 Chicago. Really no other way to put it other than being “the” classic.

What is your favorite sneaker of “today”?

As far as more recent silhouettes, I have been into Nike’s Flyknit runners like the Racer and Free for a couple of years now. They are ridiculously comfortable everyday shoes.

What is the summer 2019 release you are looking forward to the most?

Nike x sacai’s (a Japanese streetwear brand) LDV Waffle. The blue colorway is so crazy to me. They have been delayed a couple of times so the anticipation is mounting.

What are your thoughts on luxury (Gucci, Chanel, etc.) sneakers? Yay or nay?

I think some luxury designers like Chanel and Dior have been releasing some pretty dope sneakers. Virgil [Abloh of Off-White] is really leaning into the Air Jordan 3 influence on his LV sneakers to make some fire also. Then you have designers like Balenciaga and their Triple S, which some people hate and others love. I would personally love a pair of the 2 Chainz Versace Chain Reactions though.

How has social media impacted sneaker culture? Has social media ruined it? Why?

Social media has had a huge effect on the sneaker and streetwear community. Nowadays it is not enough to just know when a sneaker is releasing and having the funds to buy when the day comes, it’s become a huge competition.

Just 5 or 6 years ago it was so much easier to buy sneakers online or line up on Saturday mornings because Twitter and Instagram weren’t as big as they are now (tweet this). Now you have so many people on these platforms getting hip to the culture, and on top of that you have guys that more than ever want to profit off of the popularity. So now we have a situation where the supply does not meet this insane demand, and it’s almost impossible to cop without working with “cook groups”, going through resellers, or cheating the system with bots or other services. If you strike out on release day or ca not afford the ridiculous resale premiums, you might never get another chance at that sneaker. There is definitely still a unique thrill and rush to the hype of a release day, but all of these new factors have definitely sort of cheapened things overall.

What is a sneakerhead? Has social media made it easier for people to appear to be sneakerheads?

In my opinion, a sneakerhead is someone who sees sneakers as a type of expression beyond just what you wear on your feet. It’s kind of tough to try and box it and say that it’s just someone who owns a lot of sneakers. That’s definitely part of it, but I think there is a certain endearment toward certain brands or silhouettes and the history that I feel is personal to anyone considered a sneakerhead. As far as the second question, social media allows you to appear however you want as long as it’s within your means. As long as you know the right people and have your credit card ready, you can own sneakers. You might not have the same appreciation as someone who’s been collecting for years, but you can definitely look the part on the surface.

While you’re here, check out Stephen’s Grailed account grailed.com/youngconan.


Dareal Scott

Social media is great for getting the word out about a new sneaker release, but I always hate seeing accounts steal photos from influencers and creators in order to get the word out. I love that Dareal touched on that!

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What is your go-to classic sneaker?

My go to classic sneaker would be any Jordan Retro 11 because of its timeless design.  

What is your favorite sneaker of “today”?
My favorite sneaker of today is the Nike Vapormax because of its comfort and versatility.

What is the summer 2019 release you are looking forward to the most?

I am looking forward to the Air Jordan IV Cool Greys. These haven't been produced since their original debut.

What are your thoughts on luxury (Gucci, Chanel, etc.) sneakers? Yay or nay?

Although not attainable by most, I have no issue with the luxury sneaker wave. The sneaker market is such a large space that adding these diverse sneaker options allows for more individualism. 

How has social media impacted sneaker culture? Has social media ruined it? Why?

In my opinion, social media has had both positive and negative impacts [on sneaker culture]. Social media gives sneakerheads the opportunity to easily share pictures, release information and their love for the culture with people across the globe.

On the other hand, lots of people are taking part in the sneaker culture solely for the attention. Sometimes people seek certain shoes just for the ability to post them online to show off rather than purchasing because of an appreciation of the shoe and design.

What is a sneakerhead? Has social media made it easier for people to appear to be sneakerheads?

A sneakerhead is a shoe enthusiast that not only collects various shoes but has passion and sneaker knowledge that a typical person would not have. Many times shoe design has a meaning whether it be a collaboration with a Children's Hospital "Doernbecher" or an NBA star’s favorite show and those are the types of facts a sneakerhead would know.  It is much easier to appear to be a sneakerhead because a picture can only give us so much background as the person could be posting someone else's shoes, or they could only be buying the shoes because they know other people desire them.


Montrell Cruse

While so many of us are focused on Instagram, Montrell brings up a great point about “Sneaker Twitter” which is admittedly a place I have yet to frequent.

What is your go-to classic sneaker?

If I had to choose one sneaker for my go-to classic sneaker, it would be the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG. Ironically, this is also my favorite sneaker and has been for a while. I find it hard to not have a deep appreciation for the shoe that started it all for Jordan.

What is the summer 2019 release you are looking forward to the most?

The White Off-White x Nike Presto. I personally think it is the cleanest shoe from the Off-White x Nike collection. The release I was most looking forward to has passed (the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1). Unfortunately I have not been able to get a pair yet, but I'm determined.

What are your thoughts on luxury (Gucci, Chanel, etc.) sneakers? Yay or nay?

I wouldn't necessarily say I am against luxury sneakers and have recently grown very fond of the Alexander McQueen Oversized Sneaker. However, I have been spoiled by being able to purchase high end sneakers (Nike, Jordan, and Adidas) for retail and have never had to pay resell prices. This has kept me from purchasing luxury sneakers as of now, because I have a certain price I'm not willing to exceed for a pair of sneakers (whether they be Jordan or Gucci).

How has social media impacted sneaker culture? Has social media ruined it? Why?

I think social media has overall had a positive impact on sneaker culture. Social media has made it easier for the people within sneaker culture to build communities within it (Sneaker Twitter for example). Within these communities (like all other online communities) people are able to help one another, discuss relatable topics, and even start businesses within the community (bot companies, auto-checkout slots, and cook groups). 

What is a sneakerhead? Has social media made it easier for people to appear to be sneakerheads?

I define a sneakerhead simply as someone who has an infatuation with sneakers (all types of sneakers included). I think most people assume that you can only be a sneakerhead if you own a certain amount of sneakers but I don't see that to be the case. I also would not go as far to say social media has made it easier to appear to be a sneakerhead. However, I will credit social media for helping point out the hypebeasts (a term used to describe people who simply follow whatever the latest trend is) in the sneaker community.

If you’re interested in purchasing sneakers from Montrell, he has auto-checkout slots available for most releases and prices vary with high success rate. Shoot him a DM!


What does the link between social media, technology, and sneakers look like to you? Let me know your thoughts below in the comments.

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