Wear your sneakers. Rock them, don’t stock them. Shoes are made to be worn. We’ve all heard those words before, hell, we’ve probably even said them ourselves.
The advice rings true, especially today when hype dominates sneaker culture and there are more people than ever buying sneakers with the sole intention of flipping them. Currently, videos of crumbling sneaker soles are making the rounds on TikTok and Instagram. People are showing off their deadstock ’90s and ’00s kicks, the soles of which have turned to mush and can be squished by merely running your finger across what was once the foundation of the shoe.
Reactions to the videos have varied, with some people cringing at the fact that people are purposefully destroying their shoes to make content. I’d argue that they’re missing the point.
Others are using it as yet another rallying cry to state the obvious: shoes don’t last forever and, if you don’t wear them, you’re pretty much wasting their existence by relegating them to a display item.
Stunting — or flexing — on people with the shoes and clothes you wear is part and parcel of sneaker and streetwear culture. You want to show off what you’ve got, and that by no means has to be a bad thing. But the viral videos remind us to do it IRL and not via Instagram posts of a pristine, unworn sneaker wall. Let’s be real, how many people are really coming over to your place to look at your shoes? Why else were sneaker meet-ups, conventions, and fashion forum threads such a big part of the culture if not to encourage people to partake in wearing and flexing their sneakers?
You’ve done the hard part and secured a limited and hyped release. Congratulations. Now do the easy part and wear them, so other people can enjoy your sneakers too — before it’s too late. This isn’t limited to just old sneakers. that are in danger of crumbling, by the way. Sneakerheads cringe and throw tantrums when they see someone wearing a pair of freshly-released hyped sneakers or when a toebox gets creased (just check out the comments under Peggy Gou’s post below for proof). People are actually upset that someone else is enjoying their shoes. Sounds weird when you frame it like that, right?
Some sneakers hold up better than others. Nike Air Jordan 1s from 1985, for example, can sometimes still look deadstock. This is down to the material used to make the soles and uppers of the sneaker. That’s why you’re more likely to see a pair of original Air Max 1s or Nike Air Jordan 3s or 4s crumbling at the slightest touch, while a well-kept Air Jordan 1 could still be worn (sparingly) today. In short: different materials have different service lives.
But wearing your most prized possession can actually increase the service life of the shoe, believe it or not. If you keep a pair of sneakers deadstock in their box for too long, the glue will dry up and the aging process of the shoe actually accelerates when compared to a shoe that has been worn every once in a while. Note that your shoes are not built to last forever, they will crumble regardless if you wear them or not, so why not actually use them for what they were designed for? In the end, the joke will be on you when your soles are crumbling, and you never got to wear them.
It’s almost comical that it has to be stated so blatantly again, but the current climate mixed with the viral videos makes for the perfect opportunity. Wear your sneakers, people, it’s not that hard!
Browse a selection of retro sneakers that deserve some wear before they crumble below
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