A Crash Course in the World of Sneakerheads

After hearing the term ‘Sneakerhead’ for years, I always assumed that I had a pretty good understanding of what exactly that meant and who sneakerheads really were.  Yet as I quickly discovered, I had a lot to learn!  My first three weeks of working in the Jordan Brand for Nike has opened my eyes to a whole new world and a completely different kind of consumer.  When I first received news that I would be working with Jordan’s Retro brand footwear with a focus on the North American marketplace for the summer, I was overjoyed.  I could not be more excited! Initially though I had some nerves. As a runner (or in my case, a jumper) I have always had a profound love for shoes.  With that being said, by no means was I deserving of the title, Sneakerhead.

Don’t Know Something?  Research It!

Although, as I have learned in my years of schooling….what do you do when there is a void in your knowledge but a hunger to learn?  That’s right, you research it! I turned to my manager Dave Schechter, scheduled informational meetings with people from all different departments within Jordan, and reached out to my fellow Jordan Merchandise team to help me start along the right path. Just as expected, everyone was well equipped with resources to share and a genuine excitement to help. From there, I took to the Internet.  I started my search reading up on many popular shoe blogs including Hype Beast, Sole Collector, Sneakernews, freshnessmag.com and many more.  While I have learned a lot about the brand, the facts and the history behind each retro from sites like Jordan.com, I have been most intrigued by the real time postings on message boards as well as turning to the resell marketplace on sites like StockX to learn just who this unique consumer is.

Storytelling – The Heart of Nike

While it is important to know the facts behind each shoe like the various color ways of the original (OG) retros, their release dates and how much each shoe sold for at retail price, the heart and soul behind the Jordan brand lies within the storytelling.  From every sit down I have, to every meeting I attend and even between the everyday casual interactions with my friends in the office, sneakerheadsthis is not simply a vision statement as to where the company should be.  Storytelling is a living and breathing force that resonates within Jordan and everyone who works there.  Dave Schechter, or ‘Schech’ as he is referred to within Jordan, said it best on Friday at the Monthly Merchandising Meeting.  He said, “Jordan is not in the business of simply making another transaction, Jordan is in the business of dreams.”  In my opinion, this could not be more true.  The loyal customers who buy the retro sneakers are the diehard sneaker fans who see a shoe but are reminded of the legacy left with each moment featured within Michael Jordan’s athletic career.  They are even taken back to stories from their childhood where they camped out all night just to get their hands on a pair of Retro J’s.

Even though I have been here for such a short amount of time, I can attest to that!  Jordan truly is in the business of bring dreams to life, interning here has already been everything I could have dreamed of and so much more.  With the research that I have done already, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of the sneakerhead world.  I have a new found appreciation for the meaning of the term and I have to admit I might just come out of this summer on the road to becoming a sneakerhead myself.

As promised, come back next week to hear more about my project and the progress that I have made thus far.  Don’t forget to keep up with my fellow U of A retailers Jason Knode, who is interning with REI and Karlie Fisher, interning with Macy’s this summer. We  are so excited to take you on our exciting journeys this summer navigating the professional working world.  As I have stated before, the words I write during my time at Nike are of my own opinions and do not reflect that of my internship sponsor.

I'm a senior at the University of Arizona in the Retailing and Consumer Sciences major with a minor in Fashion Retailing. I'm also a full time student athlete competing in the pole vault, a member of the TJLC's Student Advisory Board and a student leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This summer I will be a Merchandising intern for the Jordan brand of Nike in Beaverton, OR. I'm so excited for it!