It is really easy to write a jaded perspective on Sneaker Con’s first visit to Toronto. The event was full of perfect examples for those who deride the state of sneaker ‘culture’ in 2017:
- The kids running in the door when it opened yelling to each other, “let’s find all the Yeezys!”
- The family coming in a little later with the dad peeling hundreds off a roll to give to the his two Off-White clad young teenage children
- The mom asking her approximately 12 year old son if dad gave him enough money because the bank machine was right there and she could give him more
- The guy selling ‘designer’ sunglasses carrying an empty LV bag with speakers on it playing trap music
- The crowd screaming when one booth was throwing t-shirts into the air
- The long lines to meet the Shoe-tubers that didn’t die down for the entire afternoon, and were much longer than anything to do with actual shoes
- The seller trying to convince attendees that $700 was a reasonable price for black OVO x Jordan 12s
- The kid who stepped on my sneakers (a moment of total and absolute fear on my part)
- The speakers at the “Sneaker Conversations” stage telling the attendees to appreciate their parents and do their chores without complaining (good advice I guess)
I saw all of this and more. The event was packed with primarily younger fans of sneakers and featured mostly newer releases (and lots of t-shirts) for sale. It was noisy and crowded.
When talking to sneaker friends at the event and after I wasn’t super positive. I said that Sneaker Con wasn’t for me, that I didn’t recognize the culture as something I feel part of. We talked about how small our Toronto/Montreal bubble is and that we like that we feel part of a community. As I have been thinking about yesterday, it really reminds me of my feelings about the current state of EDM (stay with me here). I sometimes see people going to these events, listening to the music and I feel annoyed that they don’t understand the real origins of house music. They are bandwagoners, fakers who embraced something once it became mainstream without respecting its roots, and they are doing. it. wrong.
That’s crazy. People at EDM events are having fun! The music has evolved and so has the culture – it doesn’t diminish the parts of it that are so important to me. Lil Louis’ French Kiss is a perfect house track now and forever, and existence of The Chainsmokers or a terrible 2017 remix can’t threaten that.
Sneaker culture is the same. Things have to evolve to stay alive. We can’t trap a cultural moment in a bubble. I’m not saying that I all of a sudden understand 12 year olds who can afford to wear head to toe Off-White and Yeezys, but I don’t need to. They aren’t doing it wrong – they are making their own culture.
The last thing I saw as I was leaving the Enercare Centre was a group of about 4 teens. They were sitting on the ground surrounded by about two shoe boxes each. They were all unlacing and pulling on new sneakers that they clearly just picked up. These kids were so excited, so happy to put on their new sneakers that they couldn’t even wait to get home.
Sneaker culture hasn’t changed completely. Those kids are me, every time I get new sneakers in the mail and put them on in the office or wear a new pick up to the grocery store because I can’t wait to wear them. The kids are doing it right.