Thousands of sneakerheads attended the recent New York Got Sole sneaker convention held in Secaucus, New Jersey Credit: Jammel Cutler

When you are walking around any sneaker convention, you are bound to hear someone say, “two for five [hundred] right here,” or “four-fifty deadstock,” and “I got the exclusive right here from the latest drops.”

That jargon doesn’t sound familiar? No? 

For a multitude of enthusiasts identifying as sneakerheads, this is everyday lingo that bonds them as a community. Many attended this year’s New York Got Sole Convention, one of the biggest sneaker conventions in the country. It was held Aug. 27-28 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. 

“I love coming here,” said Alfred Sumjmer, a vendor at the convention. “I brought my son here to learn the ins and outs of sneaker reselling. We both love sneakers, and being here gave us a chance to bond over something we both care deeply about,” Alfred said.

This year thousands of like-minded people descended upon Secaucus. “I always come out to car shows and conventions like this because it gives me a chance to see what regular everyday people are buying,” said vendor Omar Brown. 

Sneaker culture is a lifestyle, which is why major apparel brands have evolved over the past six decades from narrowly creating shoes focused on athletic performance to designing footwear for fashion. All-time great athletes such as Micheal Jordan globally popularized sneakers representing Nike and became wealthy in the process. At the start of last NBA season, 22 players had their own signature shoes. 

But now entertainers, notably Kanye West, have also made a fortune in the industry. West has partnered with Adidas to establish the Yeezy brand that includes sneakers and the increasingly trendy slides. 

Countless people can recall buying their favorite pair of sneakers and saving money as a youth to purchase a pair of sneakers they deeply desired. These are memories shared by everyday working sneaker lovers and famous athletes such as former NFL All-Pro Antonio Brown, an attendee at New York Got Sole. 

“I love the energy here, thousands of people are here to show their love for sneakers and fashion,” said the 34-year-old Brown, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 season and is currently a free-agent. 

“You get a good experience with everyone, you have the season veteran sneakerhead and the person that is just buying their first pair of sneakers,” Brown observed. “I still remember the first pair of sneakers that I bought, I bought a pair of Forces [Air-Force Ones] in the fifth grade.”

Some sneakerheads are loyal to a specific brand. Others buy a shoe because it is worn by their favorite NBA or NFL player. Many are technicians. Similar to a skilled mechanic who knows exactly what’s under the hood of a car, an experienced sneakerhead knows how to spot an authentic shoe and spot counterfeit footwear.

“You’ll never catch me out here in fakes,” Brown said laughing.

Bots, short for robots, a computer program that simulates human activity, have changed the way sneakers are bought and sold. “Over the last 15 years or so the rise of bots has obviously made it harder for the average Joe to find those elusive pairs of shoes and obtain them,” said Joe LA Puma, senior vice president of content strategy at Complex. 

No matter what the future holds for sneaker culture, the Got Sole convention showed the essence is still strong and should be for the foreseeable future. 

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