Sneakers on the Big Screen
Last week we talked about sneakers and sneaker culture being everywhere, and it is: from well curated museum exhibits, even to the big screen.
This August, filmmakers David T. Friendly and Mick Partridge released their documentary “SNEAKERHEADZ“. The film examines the global phenomenon of obsessive sneaker collecting, chronicles the sneaker’s origin and the rise of it’s cultural influence over the last three decades. Starting of course, with Nike’s 1984 Air Jordan, SNEAKERHEADZ sheds light on the correlation of sneaker obsession with the emergence of hip-hop and the marketing of sports icons as pop culture icons. As brands began capitalizing on the explosive obsession, we began to see the limited edition models and highly coveted custom models being released.
The hype for each new release was so high — and the demand so widespread among those of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds — that a new pair could mean riots in front of stores and people, literally, dying for shoes. The movie does not neglect that dark side of sneakermania, instead choosing to explore what could possibly drive consumers to such drastic measures. Estimates show that over 1,000 people a year are killed over sneaker thefts.
Weighing in with their own personal experiences and perspectives are a well rounded and impressively diverse variety of influencers from all walks of the sneaker culture. Among the interviewees are Frank “The Butcher” Rivera and Jeff Staple, as well as celebrity collectors such as comedian Mike Epps and rapper Wale. One interviewee (only half-jokingly) describes a sneakerhead as someone “who will forgo paying the rent to buy a shoe they will never wear,” referencing the widespread phenomenon of buying two pairs, “One to rock, one to stock!”. Sports star Jeremy Guthrie admits that, like many other obsessed collectors, he lost count of his own collection a long time ago.
That’s a lot of shoes.
Friendly and Partridge travel the globe exploring the impact of sneakermania as far away as Toyko, and viewers are treated to the footage captured along the way.
While the film does dive into interesting subject matter exploring when a “collector” is more accurately labeled as someone with an obsessive hoarding disorder, it remains non-judgemental and lovingly supportive of the industry it’s critiquing.
As the movie shows, different styles have come and gone over the last 30 years, but one thing is certain: sneakers (and the sneakerheads who love them) are here to stay.