Photo by Raymond Link ’20 | A number of student’s shoes lay together stacking up to create a parody on the large amounts of money sneakerheads spend on shoes.
By Ryan Loo ’20
High school is a crucial time for the development of kids’ sense of identity and self-expression. Clothing and personal style choices offer one of the most readily available and visible ways for students to present themselves in the way they want to be seen by the world.
Teens tend to employ a wide variety of forms of self-expression, ranging from hairstyles, to language, to activities and, of course, clothing. Included in that category is a small, yet growing, niche group of kids who express themselves through their shoes.
Sneakerheads, as they are called, are people who love shoes – whether it be for wearing or collecting. Sneakerheads are willing to camp out and wait in winding, hours long lines just to get that exclusive pair. They might have an anxiety attack if someone steps on their super clean, uncreased kicks. They keep track of new shoe release dates like it’s an upcoming concert. As it turns out, Brophy is home to quite a few of these sneakerheads.
Why exactly do some kids succumb to this expensive addiction and what do they get from it? A few Brophy sneakerheads helped to answer these questions.
Tangui Benier ’22 discovered his hobby of collecting shoes from his older brother. Now in college, his brother has entrusted Benier with his vast collection of shoes, encompassing about twenty pairs. One of his prized possessions from this collection is a $1500 pair of Yeezy Tans.
However, he’s careful to note, “I don’t really judge people by their shoes or anything, because I know that not everyone can afford it. It’s just something that I like.”
Max Ware ’22 also uses his shoes to express his personal style. Ware depicts his personal style through the ten pairs of shoes that he wears, though he owns up to twenty pairs.
Students around campus are not shy to express their feelings about his shoes and he often gets compliments for his fashion sense. Ware’s favorite pair out of his collection are his Original OG Jordan 13s.
Trey Phillips ’22 collects sneakers and possesses about seventeen pairs, including Nike Fly Knit Racers, Adidas Peer Boost, and Nike SB Dunk Highs. From this selection of shoes, one can tell that Phillips likes sports shoes.
However, he notes that his parents make him pay for all of his own shoes.
“If I like or care about a relationship I’ve got with someone or something, I’m going to make sure that I keep it in good condition. I guess it just speaks to my overall character, you know?” Phillips said, responding to why he keeps his shoes in such pristine condition.
Bennett Bruno ’22 also loves shoes; however, he expresses himself through luxury brands more than athletic shoes. Bruno estimates he has approximately forty pairs of shoes including designer brands Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
While he acknowledges that his shoe addiction can be expensive —he’s spent as much as $1,095 for a pair of Louboutins —he thinks it’s worth it. While his mom hates his shoe habit, his dad continues to support his hobby.
“I’ve got a lot of shoes, so I’ve been donating my older pairs to charity,” Brunocommented. This allows him to make room for his new purchases, including some Gucci high tops that he’s ordered and is expecting to arrive soon, as well as helping out those who are less fortunate than him.
However, despite using sneakers as an outlet of expression, many see sneaker fanatics as pursuing a wasteful hobby.
Students such as George Resley ’20 suggest other hobbies instead. From a religious perspective, Resley believes that sneakerhead culture in today’s society harshly counteracts the teachings of Jesus. Resley said, “[People] have earthly desires, right? They give into the temptation of material possessions and put earthly objects before our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who gives us the ultimate feeling of fulfillment. It’s very countercultural, but you should not put shoes as a priority in your life. As an alternative, pray, spend time in church, work out; besides spending money on shoes, give money to the poor, hang out with your family; besides researching shoes, focus on grades – more pragmatic ideals that will benefit you much more in the future and your family.”
This clash of ideals brings to light a key issue that is very prominent at Brophy today. While some Brophy students have the funds to collect these high-end sneakers, many teachers have yet to spend that much on their cars.
Does this growing gap of privilege pose a threat to the integrity of the Brophy community? Can one’s personal material desires coexist with those of the Jesuit teaching that we learn at Brophy?
Though ideals may conflict over this matter, sneakerheads’ love of shoes stems from a place of youth and creativity. While these students’ brands of choice or quantity of shoes owned may vary, the one constant for all of these Brophy sneakerheads is their love for shoes and the feeling that their shoe choices are a part of their self-expression and personal style.