Sneaker collecting has seen steady growth over the last few years, having gone from being viewed as a niche hobby to becoming a global market. Collectors (or “sneakerheads,” in colloquial terms) have invested themselves into their passion due to the unmistakable impact of Nike, Adidas, Jordan and many other shoe brands.
Local collector Adam Keresztes explains that Calgary’s own sneaker community has seen some significant progression, and continues to grow, becoming more “tight-knit”.
“It’s really that: Meet people, swap, trade, buy, sell things — that’s really going on,” says Keresztes, who currently owns 80 pairs of sneakers. “People like to really come and meet other people and see what’s out there, and I think a lot of people come from more of a sporting background into sneakers here, whereas in other cities, we’re noticing it’s more of the high-fashion stuff.”
Keresztes, 32, says his interest towards sneakers started in 2003 when he was in high school. Coming from a basketball background, he started by looking up on the latest sneakers as well as the basketball players he liked growing up. His interest really kicked off when he started working at Footlocker, where he says that he also began to look up on information about sneakers through magazines and the internet.
“When you’re younger, you don’t have any money and you’re just researching, reading SLAM magazines,” says Keresztes, referring to the popular basketball publication. “The internet was kind of [just] starting, so there were [only] a few places…then when I got my first job, it was like, now [that] I had a bit of money, I can start buying and collecting some sneakers”
Much like Keresztes, Albert Mejia, 28, says his interest towards sneakers started when he was 13 years old, and that it also came from his love towards basketball.
“I couldn’t get Jordans when I was younger, but I had to find something that was equivalent or close to what looked good on the [basketball] court,” says Mejia. “I also grew up as a b-boy, so for me it was like, you want to look fresh on the court and you want to look fresh off the court.”
Keresztes and Mejia are continuing to help in preserving Calgary’s sneaker community and culture through YYC SOLEdiers, an online sneaker community that the two started in 2012. The group hosts sneaker-oriented events such as the Calgary Sneaker Swap, which allows members of the community to engage with each other, whether it’s through buying and selling shoes, or just wanting to talk about their shared love of sneakers. The two are also set to host the first ever holiday edition of the Sneaker Swap taking place November 3 at the CSB Athletics Centre.
Though sneaker collecting has since seen instances of being more of a tactic for financial gain, Mejia states that they would rather not dwell in the culture simply for money, stating that they portray themselves as “advocates” of individuality as well as the passion and love throughout the sneaker community.
“For us, it’s about the love of the sneakers, and the love of the art,” says Mejia. “When you see someone wearing a dope pair of sneakers and they know how to dress up, it’s like you’re looking at a moving art piece. It’s poetry in motion”.