Express press service
In 1984, former American basketball player Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association’s inaugural season. By the end of the season, Jordan had become a fan favorite, but his impact was not limited to the court. Here, the then 21-year-old was seen wearing the Nike Air Jordan I ‘Chicago’, a pair of trainers believed to have played a significant role in bringing sneaker culture to the world. In October, major sportswear company Nike is set to release a “reimagined” version of the same shoes. Naturally, all sneakerheads (sneakerhead, as they are called) have their eyes on them. Ghaziabad-based software engineer Atul Sharma is among dozens of people eager to get their hands on this new pair of Jordans.
According to Statista, the sneaker market is on the rise globally – the market is expected to grow by 11.58% per year. Several enthusiasts, like Sharma, buy and collect sneakers.
When passion turns into addiction
The sneaker that helped build Gurugram-based property businessman Aditya Khanna’s current collection of more than 150 pieces was the Air Jordan 1 “Shadow” – he bought this pair in London as he pursued his studies in 2003. “My friend and I just got interested in buying jackets and then sort of sneakers. So, I’ve had this passion since… it’s more like an addiction now (laughs)”, confides the 39-year-old player. Sharma (41) was also influenced by the culture when he witnessed it firsthand in the United States. “I’ve always been into fashion and shoes. When I moved to the States for work, I saw people wearing these sneakers that I dreamed of. That’s when I developed the urge to own them,” says the collector whose growing collection currently includes more than 150 sneakers.
It was the uniqueness of the design that made Gurugram-based entrepreneur Joel Paes hoard more pairs of sneakers. “I’ve always liked well-designed sneakers, in terms of materials, colors or details,” says the 36-year-old who tries to source rare and limited-edition “design-strong” pieces. On the other hand, Sharma is more intrigued by the story behind the pair. “Usually every pair of sneakers has a story behind it – who wore it, when it was worn – something that makes it special. I’m looking for that.
Like collectors of any other merchandise, sneakerheads also seek out vintage, rare, and limited-edition drops. For example, Khanna’s collection which includes the Dior x Air Jordan 1 Low – this marked the first collaboration between luxury brand Dior and sneaker giant Nike – he paid $7,200 for a pair (just $4,700). between them have been made available to the public).
Needless to say, rare and limited-edition sneakers are also extremely expensive. Over the years, Sharma, who admits to overstepping the mark by allocating sneaker budgets earlier, has become conscious about her purchases. Paes – his sneaker collection has grown from around 50 pairs to 15 – concludes: “The obsession with getting the latest find is there, but you have to be aware of how much they spend.”
Sneakers are part of my identity. If I’m not wearing sneakers, people tell me ‘Why aren’t you wearing sneakers’. I really like the Air Jordan 1. It’s a leather pair and it will last forever because it doesn’t have an air unit. The more you wear it, the more beautiful it is.
– Atul sharma
I have about 150 sneakers. I can’t name one as a favorite. I like the Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White Chicago and the Travis Scott Lows. But my favorite are the Golden Goose sneakers. They are the most comfortable and they go with everything.
I now prioritize quality over quantity. My favorite from the collection would be the Balenciaga sock sneakers [speed trainers]. They are really comfortable, they go with everything. I have two pairs in black.