Rise of Sneaker Culture

The Origins of Sneaker Culture

It all started in the early 1917 with the first basketball sneaker being the Converse All Star Chuck Taylor’s. That Chuck Taylor was the first athlete to have a pair shoes named after him, but sneakers weren’t widely affordable for everyone until the 1920s. At first sneakers weren’t as popular as they are today with the name being mostly linked to criminals and delinquents. What was associated with strictly athletic use and the shoe of choice for those in the lower ranks in society, started to become a tool of cultural expression in big major cities. In the 70s cities such as New York started to see the rise of basketball communities and hip hop which took sneakers and turned them into more than just on court footwear.

Converse All Stars by Chuck Taylor were created in 1917

The real birth of the “modern era sneaker culture” was in 1984, according to The Atlantic. Michael Jordan, who is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, signed an endorsement deal with Nike that year. The start of Air Jordan craze would go into full effect as MJ solidified himself as the best player in the league. The late 80s presented new designs and styles that showed more practical appeal. The beginning of hip hop music’s rise to the mainstream saw rappers start to grab a hold of the sneaker culture, often adding the shoe brands they were wearing all throughout their lyrics. This no more evident with than the famous rap group Run DMC’s song “My Adidas” which was released in 1986. Sneaker culture had a thumb print on everyday life.

Sneaker Culture Today

Today the business of sneakers has become more than a billion dollar industry. The two most popular sneaker brands Nike and Adidas generated a combined $31.4 billion in footwear revenue in the past year according Statista. But even though Nike and Adidas dominate the sneaker business they don’t fully dominate the culture, brands like puma, Vans, Converse, and Jordan are also very popular today. High end designer brands with brands like Gucci and Balenciaga also beginning to influence the game with their sneakers.

A new phenomenon in the culture has been the ideas of collecting sneakers, buying and reselling sneakers and going to sneaker conventions. The idea of buying and reselling sneakers has given people outside of sneaker companies to make money too. Apps such as the G.O.A.T app, StockX have given people the opportunity to sell their sneakers on a bigger market. Then there are those who collect sneakers and take part in Sneaker Con (which is similar to Comic Con but for sneakers). The present state of sneaker culture has produced a group of sneaker fanatics labelled as, “sneaker heads.”

The biggest change in the culture has to be the change in the major influencers and people with sneaker deals. What used to be only exclusive to athletes has now been afforded to musicians and other prominent figures in pop culture. People such as Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T, Drake, Travis Scott, Pharrell Williams, Dj Khaled all have custom signature shoes. The influencers outside of sports are now the main ones driving the culture, with shoes like Yeezy by Kanye West, and Adidas NMD by Pharrell Williams becoming more and more popular.

Sneaker Culture from my Eyes

Growing up in New York City, sneakers have always been a big part of my childhood and continues to be a big part of my life today. I went to public school all throughout my life and up until my freshman year in high school I had to wear a uniform, and the only clothing item I had to differentiate myself was my sneakers. That’s where my love and appreciation for sneakers started. Going to Foot Locker a week before school started and picking out a pair of sneakers was always the best feeling.

The business of sneakers has been both beneficial and annoying from my view. All the sneakers I want and am not able to get for retail often resell for hundreds of dollars, but on the other hand the reselling aspect  has also put money in my pockets too. In my eyes the sneaker culture has been tainted by the whole business part, sneakers prices keep going up and being able to get certain shoes have become more difficult.

My love for the culture all started in the seventh grade when my mother bought me my first pair Nike Kobe’s. They were a pair of Kobe 6s that were black, white and varsity red that at the time sold for $130, those were my grails that started my love of the kobe shoeline.

Via Foot Locker Unlocked
My first pair of Kobes were the Kobe 6s, the shoes that started my love of sneakers (Via Foot Locker Unlocked)

When I was younger my shoe collection was strictly Kobe’s and other shoes made for basketball performance, but over time like the sneaker culture my shoe closet evolved. Now my closet is is filled with all different types of sneakers to match my different moods and vibes. Today you can find a pairs of Vans high and low, Converses, Kobe’s, Yeezy’s and other sneakers that come in and out of my rotation.

My sneaker rotation so far this semester.

The one thing that really fascinates me about sneakers are the details often incorporated into the design and how they tell a story. Another thing that is beautiful about the current state of sneaker culture is how everyone has their own style and preference when it comes to sneakers. I went around and asked friends what they liked about shoes and what their favorite sneakers are of all time.

Walker Wolfson said, “Honestly I have way too much sneakers, I have at least 20 plus pairs just sitting at home, but my favorite pair has to be the Jordan 11s just a classic.”

While my roommate Jeremy Fernandez shared a totally different opinion. He went on to say, “I’m retired but my sneaker collection not bad but i appreciate the more exclusive Nike ball kicks like KDs and LeBrons.” He shared his favorite sneakers of all time being, “either the KD 4s or the 5s.”

Jeremy’s shoe collection consists of special edition LeBrons and KD’s

The difference between Walker’s and Jeremy’s preference in sneakers only goes to show how sneakers can help people express and set themselves apart. Sneaker culture helps unite people with different styles and backgrounds, and whether you are a “sneaker head” or not we all have sneakers and we all contribute to the culture somehow.

Check out the video about my current rotation of sneakers below.


Pitfalls of Social Media for College Students

College is often the time where many students start to figure out who they are, and gain new experiences. With the emergence of social media another aspect has been added to today’s college student everyday life. The ones who seem to be getting impacted the most by social media on college campuses, are the ones apart of “Generation Z.” According to Forbes those considered “Generations Z” are born after the heavily criticized Millennials, between the mid 1990s and early 2000s. A majority of college students today are considered “Generation Z.”

Many college students today have had a history with social media consuming their everyday lives. Much of the social media use starts early and evolves over time. According to a study conducted by Common Sense Media in 2016 it was found that the average age that kids are making their own social media accounts is at about 12 years old.  So it is no surprise to see that social media dominates the lives of many college students.

For college students social media takes a much larger role, in their everyday lives. They are in the point where they are transitioning into the professional realm and job market. The things they post and portray matter now more than another time in their young lives. Balancing a social life and professional image  in social media has become more of a problem for college students.

Chanice Thompson, a sophomore majoring in Criminal Justice here at Oswego State spoke about this struggle between a social life versus a professional image. She said, “I feel like it’s hard or some people because of the way they portray themselves, posting inappropriate things. But it’s hard because you have to pick and choose what you post.” This seems to be a problem now because potential employers are now able to look you up and build up a perception of who you are a person before even meeting you. This is more prevalent to today’s college students than any other generation of college students before. 

Social media also adds to the common problem to every college student ever; procrastination. With social media often being a distraction procrastination is now more of a bigger problem. When I asked Chanice about her thoughts on the correlation between social media and procrastination, she also agreed that there was a direct correlation between the two. She went on to say, “it’s terrible because every two seconds you wanna check ya phone and see what’s new.”A study conducted by Rowan University, it was also found that a student’s GPA is more likely to drop due to the amount of time they spend on social media. That just goes to show that it is evident that social media impacts college students where it matters the most, their grades.

A huge aspect of the use of social media among college students and the college experience is social life. Social media has a direct affect on dating and relationships of college students. With everyones private life out in the public, social media seems to have negatively affected many relationships of college students. Fellow college students all seem to agree that social media has no positive affect on relationships. SUNY Oswego’s Chanice Thompson and Nasir Ferguson a sophomore at City Tech College in New York City both agreed.

Chanice stated, “Social media affects relationships in general because people start to like assume things and then argument starts. Then they wanna get posted and the person might not wanna post them. It makes it harder because people put their business out there and get judged for it.”

Nasir added, “Social media influences how relationships should go and if social media sets a standard for relationships, it has to be followed or your relationship isn’t good enough.” 

Social media is a powerful tool when used right, it isn’t as detrimental as many make it seem. With all the pitfalls and negatives of social media it is important that college students use social media in moderation, to avoid falling victims to its traps.




Mamadou Tall

Name: Mamadou Tall

Year: Sophomore

Major: Journalism

Hometown: Harlem, New York City.      

Mamadou Tall is a sophomore at SUNY Oswego, majoring in Journalism. He is a sports fanatic, specifically basketball, soccer, and football. He is also really into hip hop music, and the fast growing sneaker culture and industry. In the future he hopes to have a career as a sports writer, or a journalist in hip hop music and culture similarly to what is done at the media outlet Complex. In his free time Mamadou plays basketball and reads about current events in sports, music, and fashion.