I think we can all agree that sneakers, in their most basic form, are essential. They are comfortable, light and fashionable. They are versatile enough to take us on quick trips to the mall or long walks around the block so essentially, sneakers are how we connect with the concrete jungle! But for many, sneakers are so much more than that. They are nostalgic, exclusive, and priceless collector's items that have created a culture all on its own.
For the most part, music and sports have really developed the sneaker culture as new fashion trends became synonymous with the two. For example, you cannot ever separate the classic Adidas Shell Toes from the pioneer Hip Hop group Run DMC who created an iconic sense of style that brought sneakers to life. With Kangol Hats, Adidas Jump Suits and big gold chains, the outfit is still a popular costume at many Halloween and Costume Parties and is the definition of a "throwback".
This spiraled into the streets int he 80s and 90s with rappers, b-boy and sports figures following the trend. But the fanaticism with sneakers as a collector's item is something in large part is due to the rise of Basketball, particularly, Michael Jordan and his signature shoes.Just as a background, Nike released their first Air Jordans in 1985, thus prompting former NBA Commissions David Stern to fine MIchael Jordan $5,000 per game because the shoes did not match the rest of the team uniform. This is significant for many reasons 1) It was one of the first times a shoe brand developed shoes for an athlete 2) Jordan set himself apart from his teammates before he even made it to the NBA finals 3) Jordan defied NBA Commissioner and continued to get fined for each game 4) Nike paid the fines, supporting his defiance 5)The backlash, media coverage and Jordan's youthful defiance caused shoe sales to sore.
The act of defiance is sub-culture at this finest. It is how hip hop, punk, and streetwear were born. It is going against the grain, fighting the power and defying the odds and doing whatever the f&ck you want to do. This is the beginning of a powerful and creative culture that grown into a worldwide phenomenon and has recently been making waves in the Toronto scene. This brings us to Sole Exchange Canada's Ultimate SneakerShow!
Now, I are not sneakerheads and the most exclusive shoes I own are the tattered black and brown vans I picked up last year from the mall because I needed black sneakers for my everyday outings. That being said, we had no clue what was in store of us at the Sneakershow and boy were we in for a treat. Note, this is not our first sneakershow but the last one was a special All Star edition on one of the coldest days of the year so we were much more excited for the Summer Edition. Now just as a background, this is essentially a showcase where vendors set up their booths and show off the latest collections like the Yeezys or their best throwbacks like the classic Jordan 1s.
Many vendors had a ton of shoes while others just had a handle of exclusives. Some vendors had all their shoes for sales, while some had a select few and were there to show off the ones that weren't. Apart from that, people from all over the city, particularly young adults and students piled in to take a look around but also brought their best picks to maybe trade, buy and sell. The interesting this is that for the floorwalkers they would hold their shoe boxes and have one shoe sitting on top as a man made display so that people passing by can take a look.
The aisles were flooded with constant movement as people went around to the separate vendors looking for something they loved. But it wasn't all about the sneakers! As we said, fashion moves a long with the shoes so many were selling their best clothing, apparel, hats and accessories and you know we had to come Clutch with our tees. We even had 2 special designs made especially for the SneakerHead crowd and of course our TDOT Tees go well with any type of shoe, whether new or throwback.
We connect to connect with some amazing and interesting characters. Even THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN swung through the Sheraton Centre to cop some exclusive kicks.
It was truly a day filled with excitement as some popular names int he Sneaker industry were there. Hello Cookie, popular sneaker connoisseur who hosted and got the crowd interactive with some giveaways and contest.
Jumpman Bostic, legendary shoe collector extraordinaire who had an epic throwback Jordan display.
and our personal friends, the Sneaker Talk crew, popular Youtube Shoe Vlogger!
The personalities were out and about to mix, mingle, buy, sell, trade and show off their classics. Some shoes fetched over $1,000 which is outrageous to me since that last time I paid that much for something it came with a degree or 4 wheels instead of soles and laces. But that just shows you the power of the Sneaker and we had a great time getting to know some of the sneakerheads and amazing entrepreneurs that Toronto has to offer. there was even a cupcake stand which was absolutely to die for. Check Cakenup when you get the chance, you definitely won't regret it.
Anyways, these are the things that are going on in Toronto whether you know about them or not. Toronto is booming with events like these, where like-minded people can gather and share their passion for their favorite things and in this case, it was Sneakers! A big big shoutout to Young Jaffy and the entire Sole Exchange team for bringing this forum to light in Toronto. Look out for more of their events throughout the year. We were honored to share in this booming culture and looking forward to maybe owning an exclusive pair of sneakers. We had our eye on some serious throwback Mutumbos. We are not the type to go for something like Yeezys, but the Mutumbos though, that is right up our alley, clutch style!
Let us know what you think about the Toronto Sneaker culture in the comment section below. Til next time, Stay Clutch!