A decade ago the term ‘sneaker’ would have not rung a bell to average shoe-lovers in South Africa because, well, we wore takkies and loafers. Loafers slowly fell away, but we still love takkies a whole lot, if not more than ever. Now, we just call them sneakers / kicks – which have become global terms.
Braamfontein has become the unofficial Jozi sneaker capital, following suit in the same fashion Cape Town did to become a style mecca in the 90s. The sneaker culture around the CBD has evolved handsomely over the years, where sneaker collectors with sought-after limited releases have the opportunity to resell and earn a profit that some of us can only dream of. The sneaker-obsessed now use Juta Street as a real-life runway to showcase their new combo on weekends when the style lords come out to play. Women don’t have to settle for masculine colorways anymore with Rihanna and PUMA’s new Fenty range. When it comes to sneakers, there is definitely something for everyone, if you think not, I know some dudes close to Wits University who can customize one for you on the spot!
The Braam sneaker culture is now heavily in tune and influenced by international sneaker trends led by colossal multinational companies such as, Adidas, NIKE and PUMA, which continue to tap into the street culture that now dictates ‘urban cool’. They co-sign influential sneakerheads who then show the rest of us how cool their sneakers are. Pretty effective marketing judging by how influential these sneaker lords actually are. One such sneaker lord is Sizwe Mihuun, who recommends low-top Vans for the new those of us wanting to keep up with the city pace. He also declares the Adidas NMD as the ”sneaker of the year in 2016” and if you were to look at people’s feet on a Saturday in Braam, he’s right.
A big part of sneaker brands’ success, is having local and international personalities talking about it and sharing their sneaker fashion online. People make things cool. We can draw proof of this from many collabs between brands and personalities – some never left the shelves simply because the brand was not, at that time, connected to the streets.
These days an artist- sneaker brand collab such as the YEEZY Boosts by Adidas, will peak consumer anticipation levels similar to that of an iPhone release, with turnouts damn near shutting down de Beer Street whenever Anatomy premieres the drop. This is because the big multinationals have their ears plugged into the streets and in turn, letting them indirectly design what they want. It is your money after all.
In 2016, crowns go on your feet, not your head. The Braamfontein street lords have spoken.