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For some shoe collectors kicks are a culture

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For some shoe collectors kicks are a culture

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Pioneer High School junior Drew Lowder says he owns 116 pairs of shoes and has spent around $14,000 or more on these “kicks.” By today’s standards, this isn’t considered too extreme.

According to some Pioneer students, there’s  more to those pairs of shoes. Sophomore Stuart Demas says there is a sneaker culture very present at PHS. “A lot of people in it are cool and share similar ideas,” says Demas. He thinks people want to be a part of this “cool” culture. Some students will go to extremes to be part of this culture. “I spend hours searching online for good deals on shoes,” says junior Pano Georgakas.  People invest time and money or even occasionally more.

There is, though, a dark side to this sneaker enthusiasm.  According to a documentary by the website Sneakerheadz, every year around 1,200 people in America are killed over shoes. This documentary suggests some people want to be part of the sneaker culture so badly they are willing to claim lives for it. David T. Friendly, the director of the documentary, cited ABC news as the origin of these statistics, which Friendly says reported on ongoing opposition to the marketing of shoes. “It doesn’t surprise me that kids would become violent about these shoes; the companies market them as if they were a dream,” says Mike Epps, an actor and sneaker collector, in the video.

Critics such as ESPN sports journalist Jemele Hill say brands like Jordan and Nike encourage this violence over shoes, by raising prices and releasing the shoes in limited availability.  By doing so they make the shoes highly sought after and valuable. Students agree with this.  Demas says he likes wearing “rare” shoes because they make him stand out. Sports Illustrated also published an article titled, “Your sneakers or your life,” which highlighted sneaker violence. Even with this aspect many “sneakerheads” or “shoe collectors” embrace the culture.

Demas says shoe collecting brings people together and allows them to share ideas. He says being part of the sneaker culture allows him to belong somewhere. “It’s cool because people can hook you up with good deals,” says Demas. People work together by sharing style ideas and deals to allow someone to get a pair of sneakers that will “turn heads” in the hallway, he says. According to Georgakas, shoes are more than just an accessory. “Shoes are one of the ways I express myself; what I’m wearing can represent how I am feeling,” he says.   

It is clear that students love their sneakers for different reasons. Some, like Demas said, are looking for a place to belong. Others, such as sophomore Colin Flanders and junior Lowder, say they have their shoes because that’s what is trending at the time and they look good. Some stories of how a passion for shoes came about are unique. Georgakas had a “love at first sight” experience with shoes. “In 7th grade I saw a pair of Jordan 1’s at Footlocker and decided I had to have them, so I saved up enough money until I could buy them,” he says. “I’ve continued to do that with shoes.” However, Georgakas recognizes that what he calls an addiction to shoes can be dangerous.

“I try not to let my sneaker addiction take over my life,” Georgakas says. While cruising on the internet for some brand new kicks hours can slip by easily, he says. Other students spend lots of time on their shoes, too. “I keep my shoes on a shoe rack in my room and clean them often,” says sophomore Drew Allen. Lowder also organizes his 116 pairs of shoes on racks.

Some students, like sophomore Malik Hemani, want shoes mainly for practical reasons and wear them as much and as long as they can. “I just don’t care too much about shoes,” says Hemani, who admits he only has two pairs.

For other students, though, their sneaker obsession won’t end anytime soon. “My shoes are my life; without shoes I wouldn’t be the same person,” says Georgakas.

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For some shoe collectors kicks are a culture