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Monday, January 15, 2007

Sneakerhead Collectors vote with their feet

Sneakerhead collectors range from casual fans of sneaker fashion to those who buy and sell shoes like blue chip investments. Fanatics endure the elements and camp overnight for their next purchase of limited edition. The shoes can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars depending on their cachet. Some even wear them, and insist upon multiple pairs (in case one gets scuffed), whereas others put them away, or display them, unworn. Collectors have enormous closets full of trainers designed by sneakerhead artists like Missy Elliot . Eric Avar and Fat Joe. Shoe makers work with the artists to develop specialized pairs, such as Puma's electric blue and red trainers designed by Brazilian Frederico Uribe . Many sneaker designers have become celebrities themselves, such as Tinker Hatfield , Nike's legendary leader of the Innovation Kitchen. Experts uphold the drive for the sneaker phenomena relates to a mix of popular culture, nostalgia, technology and disposable income. Shoe collectors determine what will sell and companies are compelled to consult their consumers. To add incentive to collectors companies offer "quick hit" shoes. This is a clever marketing ploy and involves the sale of a small number of limited edition shoes as a special offer in selected outlets for a limited period of time. With minimum advertising these events are hurriedly communicated through networks, websites and SMSs. Shoe companies frequently re-release old favorites and market updated styles and limited edition shoes which are all readily snapped up by sneakerheads.
There are dedicated web sites ( Nicekicks.com and Sneaker Freaker ) , magazines (Sole Collector ), books, songs and even radio shows to sneaker culture. The phenomena has caught the media’s attention and now there are several documentaries, including ESPN2's "It's About the Shoes."

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