Early this month saw a bunch of YouTube vloggers with large followings declaring they were selling off their entire sneaker collection or downsizing. Guys like TheSneakerAddict, Mr. Foamer Simpson and Hes Kicks provided various reasons why they were getting rid of their large sneaker collections including: starting over fresh, paying off mortgages and just overall being more responsible with their money. This has led many in the community to speculate why all three of these individuals whom promote buying an excessive amount of sneakers decided to do this and all at the same time. Speculations have ranged from the “sneaker illuminati” to “a late April prank” to “the end of the ‘sneaker game’ as we know it.”
Many fail to realize however this isn’t the first time a couple of collectors with a substantial amount of kicks have sold off their collections around the same time.
It seems many forget (or weren’t immersed in the culture then) when in 2008 both Ben Baller and CorgiShoe decided to get rid of collections that dwarf all three of these vloggers combined. There was no panic, no conspiracy theories and certainly no hate towards them. Coincidentally I had sold off my own massive collection earlier that same year — it happens.
Fast forward a few years after that and no one batted an eye when in 2013 Fabolous explained why he downsized his collection or when in 2015 Finish Line’s Content Manager Brandon Edler penned a letter to the community as to why he was downsizing his sneaker collection. Nope.
“I almost felt embarrassed to have that many sneakers cuz I just felt like, it’s just too many. It’s kinda ridiculous to own this many shoes.” – TheSneakerAddict
So what has changed? Why is 2017 sneaker-Armageddon because a few well known vloggers (who BTW aren’t guys that were widely known in the sneaker community many years before they hit YouTube) have decided to maybe de-clutter their lives and start fresh? Why the backlash or speculations? Sure, it could have to do with another YouTube vlogger (who shall remain nameless at this time) who recently admitted to being involved in some capacity to defrauding buyers into buying fake shoes — and who at the same time has decided to sell his collection as well — but there has been no mention of anyone else involved in his web of deceit – outside of his partner. So maybe, just maybe it has many of the newer collectors who flocked to the culture in the past few years questioning their buying habits for the first time and that’s OK. It’s healthy. Even long time sneaker veteran and current Nike employee Alex Wang aka RetroKid45 has begun questioning his own habits of buying multiples this year.
The truth of the matter for me was that when the time came to sell off my massive collection, it was easier than I thought and actually felt pretty good which is exactly what these collectors must be feeling in 2017.
“Material things weigh you down. I know that sounds a little bit cliché but I really, really do believe that.” – Mr. Foamer Simpson
For me back in ‘08 when I decided to sell off my collection I had just felt overwhelmed and completely consumed, something that Mr. Foamer Simpson and Delz mentioned in their videos. The idea came to me for the first time in ‘05 when the sheet rock on the entire back wall of my closet collapsed. It was a mess. Not only had it damaged the wall but also damaged some of the shoes underneath it. There were hundreds of boxes everywhere. I had a moment where I just thought to myself, “What am I doing?” While a lot of my shoes got a solid amount of wear a vast majority weren’t touched for over a decade. Then of course were the days where several OG shoes just didn’t make it past the week — shoe’s like Flight 90s, OG Grape Vs, Converse Run N Slams, Abdul Jabbar adidas, and so on and so forth that would naturally succumb to father time. Couple that with the overall time I had devoted to shoes just as the time I had to wear them was declining and it all came to a boiling point, a realization.
I needed to scale back in a big way and so I did. I sold them all and rocked one pair of slip on Vans for over a year. My friends and family were shocked, I wasn’t. It gave me enough time to realize that it should have never grown that large to begin with. In the decade to follow I would again amass a collection although much smaller than the previous one. I still have to keep myself in check every now and then (with the help of some friends that have a similar “problem”) but it has never gotten nearly as bad as it was in ‘05.
It was also during this time that I became interested in the psychology behind why individuals like myself felt the need to own all of these things. Sure, I loved the designs, marketing campaigns and history behind them, and of course the good personal memories attached to many shoes but did I really need to own all of them? Did I need to turn my house into a private mini museum of sneakers both past and present? The answer was clearly no, I did not.
What I learned as most of us have is that collecting of any sorts can be healthy and rewarding just so much as it doesn’t consume us which for many that try to keep up with weekly drops it has. Done in moderation collecting can be fun, create long lasting friendships, lead to new careers, and take us all over the world. The urge to collect is believed to come from a primitive trait dating back to the days of our ancestors collecting resources that were once needed for staying a live.
“[My parents] have worked their entire lives and their mortgage is still not paid off… I don’t want that over my head.” – Hes Kicks
OK, but so why do so many of us just crap out after a while? Well, over the past 17 years sneaker drops have increased drastically in addition to the prices. It used to be that maybe five to 10 pairs a year (that in many cases could be had on deep discount) would drop and of those drops you might buy half. There were also small lines or no lines at all and there was no urge to take endless photos of your shoes for random props. If there was a shoe you wanted you could find it for a decent price and not have to worry about the possibility of being ripped off on a high quality fake while spending $500 dollars to a reseller. Stores weren’t holding back stock for fake sellouts and then doing small “restocks” where only people that had bots and a lot of time on their hands could come up on something good. There were no raffles. Everything was much more orderly. Remember the days where you could walk in a store and try something on? Yeah, you can do that with SOME releases today but in the past seven years that hasn’t really been the case. In the end there wasn’t that sense of urgency to buy that there is today and I think that has led many of us to over buy — props to those that have adopted a retail-or-bust mentality and those that have just accepted their daily diet of L’s like only a grownup can.
In the end buying too many unnecessary pairs of sneakers that you more than likely will never wear keeps them from the people that actually want to wear them and just adds to the clutter in your life and a strain on your bank account. Also, and this is according to a recent research from San Francisco State University, that money is best spent on experiences instead of just accumulating possessions as experiences are more likely to make you happy. Remember, for a lot of us our obsession is tied into the memories we experienced either while the shoes originally released or the amazing times we had while wearing them -watching MJ drop 55 on the Knicks, going on a trip with the family, a first kiss, good times with friends etc. — not just massive accumulations for the sake of owning every good looking shoe so you can floss on social media or fill a personal void in your life. Like everything in life balance is key unless of course you don’t care then in that case, YOLO.