Air Jordan, Zoom Kobe VII, Lebron X and KD V are the names of National Basketball Association superstar sneakers that are sponsored by leading athletic brand Nike.
Nike caters to a particular demographic: sneaker fanatics. On campus, they sport flashy shoes and title themselves “Sneaker Freaks” or “Sneaker Feens.”
Sophomore Tyler Griffis might fit this model. Around campus he wears a variety of kicks that appeal to his personality.
“Mostly because of the history, the majority of my shoes are Jordans,” said Griffis. “When I see a shoe coming out, I think Michael Jordan wore this shoe back in the dunk contest, or it is the last shoe he wore before he retired.”
Feb. 17 marked Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday. Arguably, he is one of the most prized innovators who has dominated his sport and the shoe game.
“The greatest basketball player of all time … he is an icon,” said Griffis.
This notion is popular among many aspiring athletes among the sneaker world and leading pop culture sneaker articles.
According to Complex Magazine, when it the Air Jordan line was intrduced in 1985, it not only changed everything about “signature shoes,” but also let professional basketball players express themselves in ways not dictated by the sneaker companies and the NBA.
Michael Jordan and Tinker Hatfield created the sneaker revolution that has impacted consumers globally. Each edition of Air Jordans has a different meaning to all who sport them.
“Because of the style and creativity, each shoe is different,” said sophomore football player Satiir Stevenson. “I can hoop in the 10’s.”
Around Guilford you can see ladies contribute to sales and share the addiction as well. Though Jordans were first distributed in men’s sizes only, Jordan has released a women’s line.
Sophomore basketball player Brittany Drew claims to own 10 or 11 pairs of Jordans.
“If a girl can rock J’s, then just imagine what she looks like in heels … damn,” said Stevenson.
With so many pairs of sneakers, it is a calculated decision when trying to choose what pair to wear.
“It depends on the weather,” said sophomore Malek Williams. ”If it is rainy with a high chance of mud around campus, then I’ll just wear a pair of shoes I can dog. It also depends on the mood and what you are wearing.”
Jordans are comfortable, stylis, and released in a plethora of editions. The inflation is attributed to the limited supply and great demand. As retro Jordans are re-released, most stores only carry two sizes, causing a ruckus among customers and employees.
“The price is getting a little out of hand,” said Griffis. “Nowadays when you go to the mall, you might have to spend the night waiting for the shoe to come out.”
The cost depends on the specific model, like the Air Jordan V Premio. Different editions are released weekly, making the addiction difficult to afford.
“A lot of times you can find a shoe that you like but is not popular in the sneaker world,” said Williams. “So it will go down after a while, maybe by $20 dollars, but then you could have another shoe, like an exclusive Jordan; then that price is going to go up the longer you wait.”
Investing in sneakers has become a trend.
“Teenagers have the largest amount of disposable income of any age group, so it makes sense for their target market to skew young,” said Digital Communications Director Donna Rasmussen. “Their products also seem to have a lot of customization options available directly from their website, which makes sense because younger consumers expect options like that.”
Other than a good marketing strategy and using professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant as figureheads, there must something deeper that lures our demographic into spending over $250 dollars on one pair of sneakers.
“I feel like when I put a pair of shoes on, it gives me a sense of confidence,” said Griffis. “It gives me a way to interact with someone else. I can talk about shoes all day long.”
Whether on the court or around campus, take a second look the next time you see someone walk by with flashy sneakers. You might become a feen yourself.