Thanks to LeBron James, Miami Gets in on the Footwear Game with Sneaker Con

If we had to spend a day in someone else's shoes, we would choose LeBron James. No, not because we enjoy near-universal hatred whenever we leave the vicinity of Miami, harbor fantasies of seeing a giant version of our face above American Airlines Arena, or enjoy losing the NBA Finals. Dude just has fresh sneakers.

And we'd be able to sell those used high-tops for approximately a bajillion dollars at this Saturday's Sneaker Con, a one-day convention where sneakerheads buy, sell, and trade hot kicks and gear, including plenty of special edition and vintage stuff from more than 30 vendors. We spoke to event founder and eminent sneakerologist Alan Vinogradov about sneaker culture, Tokyo trends, and why Miami is the new spot for hot kicks.

New Times: What is Sneaker Con like?

Alan Vinogradov: With Sneaker Con, we attempt to mimic the floor of the

New York Stock Exchange: prices being shouted, money being exchanged for

new and used sneakers. We have produced a live marketplace, which

allows sneakerheads to open up new trading networks and leave Sneaker

Con with a few bucks in their pocket. You can also expect to see Adidas

Original featuring some of their latest, never-before-seen sneaker designs which will be previewed at Sneaker Con.

Miami isn't really known for its sneaker game as much as other cities

such as New York or L.A. Why did you decide to host a Sneaker Con here?

Miami "wasn't" known for it's sneaker game as much as New York and L.A.

But since LeBron James landed in Miami it has transcended the culture in

many places in the country. Miami is now a go-to location for the sneaker culture. In 2010, Nike introduced the Nike

LeBron Zoom 8 South Beach edition. This shoe was first introduced in

select stores in Miami. It featured a teal colorway, which sneakerheads

across the country embraced, and the shoe now fetches anywhere from $600

to $800 at Sneaker Con. Its original retail price was $160.

Miami is also on the forefront of brick-and-mortar sneaker stores.

Last year, we were introduced to Sole Fly, which is the latest hub for

limited edition sneaker releases. Just last week, Sole Fly hosted their

one-year anniversary by releasing an Air Jordan 13 Ray Allen Edition,

which was limited to a handful of stores in the country. Other retail

stores which offer a unique experience include Mr.R Sports, ATC, and

Shoe Gallery. Miami is on the come-up, and we recognize the passion of

the culture in South Florida and plan on providing an amazing platform

which will expose sneaker heads to new worlds of footwear culture.

Where does your love of kicks come from?

My love for sneakers stems from the original Jordan 13s that came out

while I was in 7th grade. The colorways and silhouette of the shoe was

very different and incorporated colorways that proved to be relevant

even today. I didn't understand sneakers as a culture when I was a kid,

but I did enjoy them. It wasn't until 2003 where I began to understand kicks as a

culture. This all became apparent to me after a trip that I took out to

Tokyo, Japan.

Where does sneaker culture stem from?

Sneakers have been relevant in the United States since the days of

Pro-Keds and Converse, and have maintained a very serious following of

individuals who are looking to purchase a pair of shoes to help them

standout. The culture has been bubbling since the first Jordan 1, which

released in 1985. [Michael Jordan] and Nike's resilient attitude towards

the NBA fines suffered after each game where Michael wore the

red/white-black was one of the best [public relations] events in sneaker

history. The release marked an instant sell-through, and people all

over the country queued up to obtain this sought-after style.

Specifically though, sneakers did not become an actual culture til

the mid- to late-'90s. Japanese "buyers" were flying to the United

States to purchase old, used, and new shoes to resell in Japan. The

culture really stems from the demand developed in Tokyo. Kids there were

rocking rare Jordan sneakers and other vintage styles and complimented

these styles with clothing, which was just as sought-after. It wasn't a

real culture until it united individuals.

Platforms such as Niketalk.com

and Sole Collector were the true foundation. The live auction site eBay

made it possible for individuals to actually obtain rare shoes and new

friendships were developed amongst buyers and sellers. This spirit is

the actual culture and these networks which developed over time can be

accredited to footwear acting as an true cultural phenomenon.

What celebrity has the hottest sneaker game right now?

I would say Drake is definitely on top right now. He wore a sneaker a

few months ago that is unknown amongst most celeb sneakerheads, the Air

Jordan 8 Ray Allen Edition. Only 24 pairs of those were made, and they were released to the public

via House of Hoops in Harlem, New York, in 2008. That shoe really won me

over for many reasons: There was no release date, and it is impossible

to find at this point. If made available, it can potentially fetch

$5,000 to $7,000, depending on the size.

Sneaker Con takes place Saturday at BankUnited Center (1245

Dauer Drive, Coral Gables). Admission costs $12, and the convention runs

from noon to 7 p.m.. Visit sneakercon.com.

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