Sneakerhead culture first began in the United States in the 1980s thanks to basketball — specifically the emergence of hip-hop music and Michael Jordan’s shoe line. Today it is a worldwide movement where people who love sneakers will spend time, money and effort expressing themselves through the soles on their feet.
One student at McMaster who embraces this lifestyle to the fullest is sneakerhead and first-year player on the McMaster men’s basketball team Jacob Edwards. Edwards has been collecting shoes for several years, and now has about 60 pairs.
“Ever since I started playing basketball I fell in love with the look of Jordans,” said Edwards.
As he grew up, every birthday and Christmas he would request Jordans and slowly but surely his passion for sneakers really began to take off.
But it was the release of the Air Jordan 11 “Gamma Blue” when he was in the ninth grade that really got him involved in the world of sneakers.
“I wanted my first real pair of retro Jordans,” said Edwards. “I went to Toronto at five in the morning even though the store opened at nine, and there was a line up of 200 plus people.”
Edwards was lucky enough to get the shoe, getting a size bigger than what he was wearing at the time so that he could still wear them today.
For Edwards, getting these Jordans was more than being in style and staying up to date with the hottest trends. They were a way to express who he was.
Attending high school St. Andrew’s College, an all-boys private school that required students to wear uniforms, his shoes were one of the ways he showed his individuality.
“Even if the majority of people don’t like a certain shoe and I do, that does not stop me from wanting to wear them,” said Edwards.
Inspired by National Basketball Association players like Russell Westbrook and Kelly Oubre Jr., he allows his style to match his personality.
After high school, Edwards was recruited to McMaster due to his top scoring ability, but due to a foot injury during a charity game at the beginning of the year, Edwards has spent his rookie season watching from the sidelines.
“Honestly going through this whole injury has been mentally one of the hardest years of my life,” said Edwards.
“Not getting to experience any of the frosh week and first-year experience and play basketball has been really hard for me. But through it all, my mom has been by my side.”
After being in a cast for a month he was still not seeing any improvements, so he went to the hospital and it showed that the bone was still partially cracked. He was then advised to have surgery, which he underwent in December, and has been recovering well ever since.
“It’s definitely a beauty in the struggle because it’s totally changed my mentality towards basketball,” said Edwards. “I’m so hungry to get back on the court and it’s just motivated me that much more.”
Although Edwards was not able to excel on the court due to his injury, he did not let a walking boot stop him from rocking what he loves.
“My mindset was if I’m going to be on crutches and I’m going to be in a cast instead of letting the disappointment from not being able to play get to me I’m going to still do what I love by rocking sweet kicks, even if it just one shoe,” Edwards added.
Although many people do not understand the culture of the sneaker world, to Edwards it is just like any other hobby.
“Everyone has different passions, mine is collecting shoes,” said Edwards. “For me, wearing nice shoes completes the outfit.”
As Edwards gets older he is starting to see that there are more to the sneaker world than just Jordans. When he was younger he leaned towards basketball shoes, but now he appreciates the versatility of having all kinds of good shoes.
“I wanted to expand to dress shoes, Adidas and some Under Armour,” said Edwards. “True sneakerheads are versatile and can switch their game up from brand to brand.”
The sneaker culture may not be for everyone. The high costs and the crazy designs take a unique person to appreciate, but for Edwards and other sneakerheads, it is a way of life.