While shamelessly analyzing the outfit of someone across the room or on the streets, how is it that so much emphasis falls on the aspect of an outfit that is viewed last? Forget the shirt, jeans or jacket that blend with this accessory — or maybe they don’t even blend. Often times, outfits are centered around just one aspect: sneakers. Yes, that’s right: those Nikes, Adidas, Vans, Pumas, Reeboks, Converse or any other brand that you feel are almost a part of you. This is the aspect of fashion that more than anything seems to take the spotlight of streetstyle and beyond.

In fact, it is this idea that seems to drive the world that is sneaker culture. The integration of seemingly effortless athletic looks into everyday settings is one that truly is revolutionizing the fashion game. However, it is this emphasis on effortless, thrown together “athlesiure” that saturates the premise of sneaker culture with irony. In all honesty, keeping up with sneaker culture is really not effortless at all. It’s a ton of work.

Perhaps it’s the apparent brand orientation that innately comes with shoes or the way sneakers have transcended culture beyond just gym floors, but the focus on having the latest and greatest is at the base of sneaker culture. Historically used for more pragmatic purposes, sneakers started as just another shoe worn for athletics. Take Converse high tops, for example. The iconic red, white and blue, identifiable from anywhere, were once worn by basketball players in gyms across the United States. Stan Smiths too were inspired by the need for a pragmatic shoe on tennis courts. With an emphasis on simply fulfilling a task, sneakers have not always been the spectacle we view them as today.

As society has become a world of consumers, a world centered around media and material, sneakers made their way out of the gym, onto the streets and into the aesthetics of everyday life. With a twisted form of pragmatics in mind, sneaker culture serves as blatantly ignored source of complete consumerism. While it is often common that sneaker fans are loyal to one style or brand — those old Air Force 1s or checkerboard Vans — a huge pressure to have the latest version, the next best thing, is ever present. Even though each of us claim we have an old, beat up pair of sneakers we are loyal to, we still desire the next model, the next trend, whether it be within or beyond the designs of our favorite brands. These companies know sneaker fans will fall victim to this. How is it that one could feel the need to own Air Force 1s in high top and low top, or the same Pumas in a platform and regular sole? This is sneaker culture. It’s in the details. It’s in the constant changing of designs that we will never, no matter how hard we try, be able to keep up with.

So yes, stay loyal to those Adidas or Nikes that have quite literally been with you through it all. There’s just no denying that new styles and collaborations put out by these brands won’t be tempting or eat away at your inner “sneakerhead” as you convince yourself the latest Nikes are an absolute necessity to your shoe closet. Sneaker culture is built on this craving, this need for the new styles and new options. And scarily enough, without complaint, consumers do not appear to be running out of options anytime soon.

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