Collecting Sneakers


How many pairs of shoes do you own? Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at a culture of people who collect one kind of shoe.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

What are on your feet right now? Are you wearing shoes? What kind are you wearing? People have many opinions about shoes. Many people think that shoes should protect our feet. Shoes should feel good to wear. Shoes should be made to last a long time. Other people think that shoes do much more than this. They believe that shoes tell the world who we are.

Voice 2  

One of these people is Ardy Ghosh. He collects sneakers. These are shoes designed for sports like basketball, running, or other exercises. Ghosh has collected over 200 pairs of sneakers. He spoke to the Times of India about his collection.

Voice 3  

“My love for sneakers started as a child. I loved basketball and all the players wore cool shoes. But I was from a middle-class family. I did not have money for sneakers at that time. I thought I would buy them when I grew up and here I am.”

Voice 1  

Ghosh is part of a culture of people called “sneakerheads”. Sneakerheads have their own language, customs, and gatherings. This culture includes both men and women. And it exists all around the world. Today’s Spotlight is on sneaker collecting.

Voice 2  

Sneaker collecting began with basketball star Michael Jordan. In 1985 the shoe company Nike made the first pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes. Young men wanted to be like Michael Jordan. They wanted shoes like him. People would fight for the chance to buy the shoes. And stores even sold out of the shoe. Even today, Air Jordans are still some of the most popular sneakers. Jozen Cummings wrote about the influence of Air Jordans on sneaker collecting for GQ magazine.

Voice 4  

“Growing up there were three things that represented wealth to me: a nice house, a nice car, and Air Jordans.”

Voice 1  

But people buying Air Jordans  wanted to feel special. They did not want to wear the same shoes as everyone else - not even the same Air Jordan shoes. They wanted to be different. So these people began to search for sneakers that no one else had. Then they would buy many pairs of them. When one pair of shoes got old they would have another of the same kind ready.

Voice 2  

Shoe companies like Nike, Puma, and Adidas saw how people loved to collect sneakers. They saw that people were willing to pay a lot of money for shoes that no one else had. This was the beginning of limited releases. Companies began to make shoes in special colours and designs. They would only make between 100 and 500 pairs of the sneakers. This meant that only some people would get them. People started paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a pair of these limited release sneakers. Then they would not wear them. They would keep them safe and clean.

Voice 1  

Shoe companies looked for more and more ways to make special sneakers. They changed colours and materials. They made shoes with different star basketball players. But soon they even turned outside the world of sport. They began to partner with other famous people.

Voice 2  

One of the most popular sneakers is the Yeezy Boost 350. Adidas made this shoe with the rapper Kanye West. Whenever a new version is released it always sells out within a few minutes. Then people sell them again for almost ten times the first price. Other examples of partnerships include Nike and Kendrick Lamar and Reebok and Cardi B.

Voice 1  

This last partnership is very important. More and more women are collecting sneakers. Shoes companies have noticed that sneaker collecting is not just for men. Indigo Bailey is a sneaker collector. At a sneaker festival, she told a reporter for Elle magazine what it is like being a woman interested in sneakers.

Voice 5  

“It is different. Most of the time people look at my boyfriend and expect him to know everything about sneakers. When I also know everything, they are shocked. I am normal and I just like shoes just like you. It is good that men can collect sneakers but women can do it too. Better actually. My boyfriend’s sneaker collection is a little bigger than mine. But mine is big too.”

Voice 2  

It is not only more women collecting sneakers. More people all around the world are collecting sneakers. There may not be sneaker stores in every country. But people can buy sneakers on the Internet no matter where in the world they live. Bram Nein is a sneaker collector from Indonesia. He spoke to the website Highsnobiety.

Voice 6  

“The sneaker community in Indonesia has experienced big growth in the last few years. It has seen growth in the number of members and the number of events held in every city. In Asia, Indonesia is probably the only country able to host sneaker events almost every week.”

Voice 1  

But collecting sneakers can cause problems for some people. When someone only has a small chance to buy a special shoe it is easy to spend money they do not have. People can become too excited about a limited edition sneaker. They can spend thousands of dollars on sneakers. Some people can spend that much money. But most people cannot. This does not mean that you should not collect sneakers. But you should know how much money you want to spend.

Voice 2  

But for sneaker collectors, collecting is about more than just getting more sneakers. It is about creating a personal identity. Sneaker collectors love sneakers. But they also want to show that they care about how they look. Albert Mejia is a sneaker collector in Canada. He told the Calgary Journal what sneaker collecting means to him.

Voice 7  

“For sneaker collectors, it is about the love of the sneakers and the love of the art. When you see someone wearing a dope pair of sneakers and they know how to dress well, it is like you are seeing a moving art piece. It is poetry in motion.”

Voice 1  

Do you collect something? Why do you collect it? Tell us what you collect! You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Collecting Sneakers’.

Voice 1  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android or Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you wear all of them?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on March 25, 2019

I have nine pairs of shoes and wear them all, depending on the occasion. Usually I wear espadrilles (an African shoe used for old Carthaginian soldiers), but I like and wear sneakers and boots as well. I really think collecting something is a bad way to spend money. I have about 3,500 books, but they do not represent a collection: they are something I bought over the course of my life and I like them just as I like my friends.

Avatar Spotlight
Trinh Thi Hien
said on April 02, 2019

Hello, I have ten pairs of shoed and I wear them all, Usually I wear sneaker and boots as well . I uasualy collect sneakers for play tennis