Before co-founders Yu-Ming Wu, Alan Vinogradov, Barris Vinogradov and their long-time managing director Will Debord bring their 15-year-old Sneaker Con – their trademarked “Greatest Sneaker Show on Earth” – to Seattle on February 25 followed by conventions in Singapore, Detroit and across the globe, I think it’s crucial to know what I witnessed at its most recent Sneaker Con at the Philadelphia Convention Center this week. According to fellow Philly Sneaker Con attendees who have traveled faithfully to New York City to witness previous Sneaker Con events, the 10,000 fanatics in attendance and the wealth of sellers, traders and vendor booths remains much the same – a packed show featuring the rarest, most desirable vintage sneakers, the boldest newest flavors (many new, independent designers and sellers too) and the community of fanatics who love them. All are out en masse when Sneaker Con comes to town.
While I can’t pretend to be as obsessed and all-knowing as many of the young, expert Sneaker Con conventioneers I spoke with when it comes to American sneakers (I’m more of a fan of Japanese street wear designers such as Nigo and A Bathing Ape), I paid great attention to all that they beheld.
Here are a dozen of the best, most priciest things and special moments that I witnessed at Sneaker Con, and something fellow travelers in other cities can be on the lookout for.
Sure, there were young teens (figure 13 years-old) with their parents to be found at Sneaker Con, with moms and dads easily forking over $500+ for a single pair of sneakers, and often filling their wide, deep Sneaker Con-branded bags with several pairs of kicks. But, I can’t tell you how many fresh faced teens that I saw rifling around the convention floor with their own wide wads of cash or flashing Centurion® American Express cards. Dag.
Portable strolling vendors
While 99.9% of the Philly Convention Center was lined with aisle after aisle of sneaker vendors with its floor space occupied by sellers stretched out on rugs and matts selling their wares, my favorite thing at Sneaker Con was watching men and women walking with sneakers on their heads yelling out prices for their wares (my favorite was seeing girls with buns where the sneakers could rest the heel of the shoe while strolling) and those with vendor trays strapped to their backs and shoulders displaying possibly covert goods. Intriguing.
The only thing valued at nearly the same prices as the footwear at Sneaker Con, were the vendors spread out across the floor selling authentic SUPREME sportswear brand stickers purchased from SUPREME stores, websites, and collectors from across the globe. And the people I was with knew each sticker’s authenticating marks.
Sp5der Worldwide 555 Sportswear
Pink-loving, eccentric rapper Young Thug’s streetwear brand of hoodies and sweatpants with spider webs and bold type was solely repped by one team on the convention center’s floor, and it was MOBBED.
The sole 2 pairs of A Bathing Ape sneakers
In a glass box and plastic wrapped, the deep, shiny blues and reds BAPEs, emblazoned with stars, didn’yt even have price tags on them. If you have to ask……..
The Off-White x Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Chicago design
This shoe marked the first time that the late great Virgil Ablo and the Jordan Brand hooked up “The 10” edition, complete with “Air” written on the side, in the original Chicago-themed white, black and varsity red colorway. Snearker Con’ Debord told me that he has that shoe on his mantle; and I found several pairs of the highly valued sneaker on sale for upwards of $3,000 – which apparently is a steal.
Nike MAG Back to the Future
Based on the lit-up, special FX detailing found during Michael J. Fox’s Back to the Future II, the sight of this caused even the most jaded sneakerhead to blush.
Macklemore x Air Jordan 6 Cactus
OK. Maybe no one cares about the rapper Macklemore too much at present. But, his weak green tea colored collab with Air Jordan remains a big deal. Other viewers were more impressed that I to see this, but who am I to argue.
Nike Dunk Low Pro SB Freddy Krueger
The horror icon-striped sneaker is supposedly rare due to a film company law suit – as Nike’s designers never got the rights to the name or the color schemes. Ambitious Nike workers told to throw them out and dump oil on what was left of the Freddy Kruegers apparently stole them, left Nike and continue to make bank. Fantastic. And $26.000 for the pair that I saw up close.
The Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October
This one had its debaters: before he partnered with Adidas and made a mess of his life as a Nazi sympathizer, Kanye West debuted his Air Yeezy line with Nike and surprise dropped 200 of the tomato red Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October which immediately sold out. I saw a pair go for $6,000 here – which seemed low. Is the Yeezy market done or, in the words of one expert I spoke with, just resting? There were scores of other Yeezy shoes – bland beige toned slip ons for example – going for $300 and $500. Now. But the expert I spoke with said that eventually those new to sneaker collecting (as opposed to its vets) will wind their way to Yeezy and start spending big again. Invest now?
The Yeezy Boost 350 and the YZY KNIT RNR
The knit upper with the Adidas-traditional Boost cushioning, up close, looked pretty cool with the grape stripes while the sock-like wooden shoe-looking RNR came across like a spaceship for the foot. Neither sneak was that expensive. Invest now.
Astro Boy Boots
These aren’t exactly rare. You can get them on eBay for $300. But these manically unattractive bright red Minnie Mouse meets Goofy sneaker boot slip-ons were EVERYWHERE – men, women, children, And yes, after seeing the 40th pair in action, I believe that I will own a pair soon.