Inside the community of 'sneakerheads' and fans who will do anything to get the rarest pair
BROOKLYN — With endless styles, sizes and brands, the sneaker is one of the few products that has evolved from being a mere accessory to a status symbol that ignores all economic barriers.
Over the years, the sneaker culture has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. So much so that the Brooklyn Museum has even dedicated an entire exhibit to it.
Michael Jordan and Nike are widely credited for making the footwear larger than life.
The blooming New York hip hop scene in the late 80's also helped catapult it to mainstream levels.
"It definitely was part of the catalyst to create this sneaker craze you see now," Calvan Fowler, owner of Jordan Heads Brooklyn, a boutique sneaker shop in Bed-Stuy, told PIX11 News.
Fowler said Air Jordans are his passion – a passion that sometimes gets a bad rap.
"It's pretty much nostalgia," he explained. "Being a kid, growing up, it's a part of people's childhood and people want to relive that. I mean when the retros come out and people get them, its like Saturday morning cartoons."
"No one is talking about that. No one is expressing that and that's a shame."
After hearing story after story from customers about what drove them to get their first Jordans, Fowler produced a full-length documentary "Jordan Heads" that aims to shed light on this very unique community.
With a sense of exclusivity adding on to their value, sneaker shops around the city have wised up, developing protocols to customers where only one sneaker is allowed to be worn – at a time.
According to the New York Times, thieves in Bushwick were taking off after trying on both sneakers.
Fowler says he has his own way of keeping tabs on would-be thieves.
"Essentially we have a pretty small boutique. Our eyes are on you the whole time, so there isn't a real way to get out."