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Sneaker Collecting Guide 101

Buying Guides

Melanie Kwok
February 23, 2022

As we see more and more sneakerheads and streetwear enthusiasts nowadays, sneakers have gone beyond just a functional pair of shoes to a collectible, a statement piece in an outfit, and a passion for many.

All image credits Nike, Pinterest and various sources

Sneakers have been constantly featured in popular culture with brands like Air Jordan and Yeezy dropping iconic kicks every year. As we see more and more sneakerheads and streetwear enthusiasts nowadays, sneakers have gone beyond just a functional pair of shoes to a collectible, a statement piece in an outfit, and a passion for many.

People have started collecting sneakers for a variety of reasons such as the rich history behind each shoe, chasing the latest hype drops to flex on their friends, or because they enjoy collecting rare and hard-to-get items. It might seem intimidating or some might even feel completely lost as to how to start their sneaker collecting journey, but Ox Street has put together this “Sneaker Collecting Guide 101” to help you get started.

Learning the different terms

To help you navigate through the different sites and understand the raving reviews, you have to first familiarise yourself with the talk. We see many terms specific to the sneaker community such as “silhouettes”, “drops”, “cop” and many more. To pick up on these terms, get immersed in the community. This means reading up on sneaker news sites like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety, following sneaker accounts on social media, and watching sneaker-unboxing videos on YouTube. After much Googling and trying to figure out the meaning of certain words, you will get the hang of it in no time.

What is your purpose?

Much like there are different types of sneakers, there are also different types of collectors. Before you start on your collecting journey, think about your purpose and what do you value more when it comes to collecting sneakers. Is it for the resell hustle to earn some cash, or are you one of those who appreciate the history and culture behind each sneaker you want to have? Nothing wrong with either (though there have been many debates from different camps), but it is good to understand why you are buying the sneakers you want to buy to help you better streamline your collection as well.

Think about what kind of sneakers you want to collect

Get yourself familiarised with the different types of sneakers (check out our Air Jordan guide) to see what type of sneakers you like. Some essentials you might want to have are the Air Jordan 1 (we recommend the highs), a low profile sneaker such as Dunks, OG runners like the Air Max, other rare OG classic must-haves if manage to get your hands on any, and of course, the latest hype kicks if you are into that. While looking at these broad categories, also keep in mind our previous point about what you value when it comes to collecting to help you decide what types of sneakers you want to collect.

Mark your calendars

The SNKRS app amongst others will be your new best friend. To actually get started on collecting, you have to actually buy the sneakers. This means knowing the exact date and time when the sneaker you have your eyes on will be released. It is also important to find out whether it will only be available through a raffle, physical stores, or simply having to fight it out with thousands of other sneakerheads online.

Get connected

Connections are important everywhere, and it is no surprise that it is most needed if you want to cop a super rare sneaker or get the latest news about which store to camp at for that elusive upcoming release. The community not only provides information but also bots and other software applications to help speed up the check-out process when time is the essence while purchasing sneakers. Sneaker stores are constantly trying new ways to beat bots, so trying all means to get your kicks through whichever methods you are comfortable with is important.

Reselling

If your plan is to resell the sneakers, be it to earn profits or just to get extra cash and space for that new sneaker you want to cop, it is definitely a part of sneaker collecting at some point even if you are not a reseller. The secondary market is a big inescapable part of the sneaker community, and even if you do not intend to resell it is nice to check up on the value of the sneakers you have once in a while. Check out our “Sneaker Reselling Guide” to help you get started.

Beware!

As with luxury goods, sneakers are also full of fakes. If the deal looks too good to be true, it most likely is, especially if you are buying a sneaker through private means like social media where there is a lack of authentication.Asking for pictures and videos of the shoes and box is a must, or better yet check them yourself. You will have to be familiar with every detail of the shoes down to the labels, factory code, shoe SKU etc. If you are not a risk-taker or simply not experienced enough, it is best to go through big reseller sites like StockX, GOAT, and of course Ox Street which guarantees the authenticity of the sneakers.

Maintenance is key

Do keep in mind that starting a substantial sneaker collection would mean taking up a lot of space, and consider yourself warned that it is an addiction. Besides mentally committing to the amount of space needed, it also requires time, effort, and money to maintain them. After spending a sum of money on them you would want to preserve them as long as possible in preferably pristine condition, for wearing or reselling in the future. Sneakers have to be stored in proper conditions with the right temperature and humidity without direct sunlight (which causes discoloration) to prevent them from getting moldy or the leather to crack. Dehumidifiers are a good investment, alongside dust sheets and storage boxes.

Pro tip: Always keep the original box in case you want to sell them as they are worth more with the box. They are also part of the shoe and design, especially those that come in special boxes so, it is not just about maintaining the shoes but the boxes as well. Be careful not to crumple or damage the original box, and consider keeping them in a plastic box.

To wear or not to wear

Once you have finally gotten your hands on your sneaker, you will have to decide whether to wear them or not. They will have more value as deadstock (never worn or even tried on before) if you do intend to sell them in the future, or maybe they are holy grails that you will absolutely refuse to wear.  Or you might be one of those who will choose to wear your sneaker collection to show them off and also to prevent them from degrading in storage.

If you do decide to wear them, remember to protect them with protective sprays that also help make them water-resistant before wearing them out. After wearing, give them a wipe each time to prevent stains from setting in and also to minimize the number of times you do deeper and more intensive cleans.

Finally, your list of dream hype sneakers

Remember, you don’t have to collect everything. Be it by colors, silhouettes, or brands, think about what kind of sneakers you like and curate your collection. Always keep in mind your limits, be it in terms of price or space when building your collection. With that in mind, you can start building your list of dream hype sneakers and get started on your sneaker collecting journey. Need some inspiration? Check out our lists of Air Max, retro classics or women’s sneakers for some ideas. Happy collecting!

Melanie is a contemporary art enthusiast, writer and cultural research strategist whose practice explores the areas inbetween art, design, commerce and the cult of collecting.