WTF Is Happening To Sneakers?

As a tomboy in my youth, sneakers were life. The fresh Air Force one. The released Jordan’s.

From a young age, I always made sneaker contact first. If I like your sneakers, I would further scan your outfit to see if you did them justice. I remember the days where I would be excited to go to school to see the new releases on the feet of my peers. Not to give my age but this was the early 00’s.

Nelly (Hey Nelly ❤) had just dropped “Hot in Here” followed by his other hit “Air Force 1's”.

In “Air Force 1's”, he rapped ever so passionately about his love for the color, smell, shape and feeling he got when he opened a fresh box of Nike’s. Every verse and line was so relatable.

Now don’t nothing get the hype on first site like, white on whites/
Them three quarters, them lows, they all tight/The only problem they only good for one night/Cause once you scuff ’em you fucked up your whole night

All I could say was “yasssss”.

As a young girl in Brooklyn who was forced to wear uniform, your feet were important. If you had any sense of style, your feets were important. In school, we had some who loved Vans, no name brand sneakers and the trendstetters. It was one piece of fashion you could use to fully express yourself. My love for Air Force 1’s was so deep, I was moved by a pair a “Air Force 2’s” walking down the street one day. I mean buying a pair of sneakers from a man Cadillac truck who I’m 100% calls all young black men “nephew” wasn’t that ideal situation. Yet, I couldn’t resist those Air Force 2’s.

What are Air Force 2’s you ask?

Let’s just say they wouldn’t be on the official site, NOWHERE in the world.

Unc got these off of Canal st somewhere and came back to the hood to sell them I guess you can say from a young age, I always supported black buisnesses.

Though I knew they were fake, they were the smoothest pair of sneakers I’ve seen in all my young life. As a tomboy in my youth, I always adored sneakers. They were an all white snake skin textured white leather with gold hardware on the front Nike emblem and tips of the laces. That’s right snake skin textured all white Air force 1’s. I would like to grant a moment of silence for you to envision how beautiful these sneakers were. I remember it like it was yesterday.

This leads me to my final love at sight moment. At the tender age of 16, my grandfather took me on a shopping spree. I purchased a cool pair of sneakers that I later learned were extinct. My ability to go inside of store and simply purchase a pair of sneakers I love are gone forever. The irony is , in my opinion, this era has some of the worse design and color scheme sneakers I’ve ever seen. Not only do the sneakers suck, the quality is trash.

Women’s sneakers are covered in pastels, lame floral patterns and pink as if all women like feminine sneakers.

I dare you to Google “women’s sneakers”. If you aren’t gagging at the sight of the search engine result, I’ll buy you the sneaker of your dreams.

As a woman with a larger shoe size, I love the design and color schemes of men’s sneaker but don’t like the bulkiness. Do you see the uphill battle I’m fighting? I feel designer sneakers have it easy with sales these days. Any “get money duded” you would see int he hood, probably had one Nike’s, not Gucci or Saint Laurent. I believe the low quality and lack of design effort has migrated the black community to fall right into the palms of his fashion sneakers.

NBA players have even made an attempt to resurrect this sneaker culture by creating their own sneakers. Whether is was simply a dream or an attempt to create better sneakers, all I can say is they tried.

The days of walking into a sneaker store, falling in love with a shoe and finding your size have gone extinct thanks to culture vulture I mean hype beast culture. Somewhere in the 2000’s a genius thought it would be a bright idea to shove those who appreciated sneakers into a box and force them to spar for sneakers. While the war of culture began, there were children from the suburbs in a Trojan horse, entered the golden gates and wrecked on the lovely world known as sneaker culture.

I genuinely hate it here.

For a while, a decade to be exact, I have grown numb to the desire for sneakers. There wasn’t not one pair of sneakers that would make me desperate enough to log in StockX and even THINK about paying the ridiculous price for anything. To be honest in that decade, I wasn’t moved by anything.All the girls sneakers were lazy and added a stupid feminine twist that didn’t belong. Thank you Vashtie, Melody and Aleamiay for representing the women who have been disappointed by female sneaker design.

I’m not sure where I stand on streetwear sneakers these day. My hat off to the people who have taken matters into their own hands and started custom design sneakers. I’m not sure why Nike continues to ignore these folks but I hope one day they see the light.

If not, designer sneakers will continue to take the baton of running the sneaker world.



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Tiara Mitchell

Tiara Mitchell

Author of “The Heart’s Patchwork:Poetry for Self Love” Available on Amazon Kindle. NYC Writer|