The sneaker tradition of South Africa has exploded over the last couple of decades, along with layouts and price tags that rival the expense of a secondhand vehicle.
It has even spawned its own language: a hypebeast really is a trendy person who purchases only the most recent products and copies that which celebs are wearing; a diehard sneaker collector is known as an OG, or Originals Gangster; along with also a grail is a very rare pair of shoes – as in the Holy Grail.
On Saturday, May 6, tens of thousands of sneakerheads descended on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg to the fourth annual Sneaker Exchange – a one time store where grails in addition to the more plain “coke whites” had been bought, sold, bartered, admired and compared.
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The guy behind the event is a self-confessed sneaker addict who scaled his personal collection down to 150 pairs, Zaid Osman.
“That is all about growing the sneaker culture within the country. In the us, shoes are part of daily life,” said Osman, 24, who dwelt in the US between the ages of four and 15. “Growing up there, you’re involved with the culture but nobody is forcing the trend. What we are trying to do here is to drive the trend.”
Osman stated the idea of the Sneaker Exchange had been invented in a Cape Town coffee store.
“After I had been trading shoes on the internet, a couple friends and I encouraged sneaker enthusiasts into a small get-together.
“I had all the shoes that I have in the united states, that weren’t yet released in South Africa. We started at a coffee shop and it had been literally shoes on the dining table, men coming there swapping and buying. About 80 people attended. From there I thought that there was something which had to grow larger.”
The occasion is the biggest occasion in Africa, in which collectors and aficionados may purchase, sell or exchange shoes in addition to purchase footwear and apparel. More than 2,500 people attended ones at Cape Town and Durban, and the event in Johannesburg.
Osman said that depending on the sneakers’ worth, cash payments might be negotiated, and did not have to enroll for the occasion.
Artists including Youngsta, Anatii and Riky Rick performed at the occasion.
“We are also looking for a means to bridge the gap between arts, music and shoes,” Osman said.
Recognizing what creates a great sneaker, he said it wasn’t only the label, but also “mad layouts”.
While the trend for designer shoes has produced an worldwide fake sector worth an estimated $461-billion (about R6.2-trillion), Osman said non – known colloquially as Feezys after the proliferation of imitation Yeezy shoes – went against true sneaker culture.
“When it comes to shoes, you have to wear exactly what you need – but do not wear imitation. When you wear imitation, that’s something about your character.”
A guy rides a bike between stalls at the sneaker exchange occasion. Image: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
He explained the shoes most in demand were Air Jordan 1 and Nike’s Vlone Air Force 1, in addition to Yeezy – a collaboration between adidas and rapper Kanye West. “Individuals also now enjoy the trendy collaborations that manufacturers have with celebrities.”
“People are now more educated on shoes and brand new releases. What’s unique about sneaker civilization in Africa, and specifically in South Africa, is that we are placing our own individuality. We mix sneakers with different Afrocentric flavours such as our clothing.”
The Sunday Times understands a pair of Jordans 4 KAWS, the shoes, were bought by a 15-year-old for R23 ,000. He didn’t need to be named.
The sneaker is a cooperation between the Jordan Brand and performer Brian Donnelly professionally known as KAWS.
“I’ve always wanted a set and I tried getting them from overseas but I was planning to pay a higher price. I paid a price that was reasonable and arrived here. That is a shoe that is going to get value because it is exclusive,” said the teenager, with 35 pairs of shoes.
Jimmy Lin said when they had been released in March this year, about 40 pairs were sent to South Africa.
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Another sneaker junkie, Joel Peterson, that came all the way from Cape Town for case, bought Nike Air Force1. “I was blessed to find these below the resale price because they actually be more expensive. I negotiated to get it for about R2,000 because it costs R2,700,” he explained.
Also at the event was visual artist Dada Khanyisa, that includes sneaker artwork in her portfolio. “To customise a sneaker, it takes initiative and a creative head,” she explained. “When the sneaker is done, it must not look like it had been earlier, it has to be customised to suit one’s taste.” She uses paint, fabric and leather to customise sneakers.
Trend analyst Nicola Cooper said sneaker civilization was climbing in Africa. “That is due to changing lifestyles and the newest generation.
“Sneakers and streetwear are getting to be acceptable, even at work. We are on level with the rest of the planet due to access; we are linked. When collaborations between celebrities and brands are released, we all know about it.”
•E-mail the writer of the Guide, Siphe Macanda, at email@example.com