Jonesing for the next pair of Jordans? Are the Air Yeezy 2s haunting your dreams? It’s fair to say that you’re a sneakerhead, a shoe connoisseur on the hunt for the rarest kicks on the planet. And you’re not alone.
On Saturday, November 23, fellow sneaker enthusiasts will converge upon New York City for Sneaker Con, a traveling shoe convention where connoisseurs can buy, sell and trade their kicks and talk shop with fellow collectors.
Now in its third year, Sneaker Con is earning recognition as the nation’s premiere collector’s conference. About 15,000 pairs of sneakers are showcased at each event, ranging in styles from vintage Air Jordans to newer gems like the Nike LeBron James MVP 10, which will set you back anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.
“Every single person is essentially coming to Sneaker Con for the purpose of seeing shoes you’ll never see, buying shoes you can’t buy anywhere, trading their products and the core element of networking and creating a purpose for themselves within the community,” said Sneaker Con co-founder Alan Vinogradov.
One of the priciest and hard-to-find pairs to look for is the Nike Air Mag, inspired by Marty McFly’s futuristic dunks from the Back to the Future movies. Released in limited quantities in 2011, it fetches for anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 today.
If you’re shopping for the holidays, Vinogradov says it’s all about the “Gamma Blue” Air Jordan 11, which is rumored for a December 23 release.
Newbie collectors need not fret: there are plenty of more accessible styles to start you off, like the Nike Air Jordan 3. “That’s a classic that I think everybody should have in their closet, even if they’re not a sneaker collector,” Vinogradov said, adding that the Asics Gel Lyte 3 and the Nike Air Max 90 are also great options for their style and function.
If you aren’t planning to rock your new pair right away, remove any packing paper inside, which can cause yellowing of the shoe’s materials, and then, store them in a zip-top plastic bag to protect your investment from dust and dirt.
The shoe game is undoubtedly fueled by the competition, whether to be the first to score the hottest new style or to add an incredibly rare pair to your collection — and this pressure has given way to an ever-growing counterfeit market. Vinogradov says it’s getting increasingly harder to spot fakes because manufacturers are getting better at producing their products.
One tried-and-true-trick? The sniff test. “Every shoe has a distinct smell. If the glues they are using are wrong, the shoe will smell industrial like it literally came off the factory floor,” he says. But if you decide to buy online, he suggests using a trusted retailer like flightclub.com.
At the New York event, Sneaker Con is launching an on-site authentication service, where trained professionals will inspect your shoe for authenticity and enter its data into an online database. Vinogradov hopes the website, which will go public next year, will add more transparency to the collector’s community.
Check out Sneaker Con from 12 p.m.-7 p.m. at Basketball City (299 South Street). Admission is $20 and tickets can be purchased at sneakercon.com.
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(Photo: Courtesy of Sneaker Con NYC)