The guide to Sneaker Terminology

The Sneaker Exchange – Johannesburg event is just a day away from the biggest gathering of sneakerheads from all over Mzansi. I have decided to do something abit different this time around, which is both suited for the beginner and the OG level sneakerheads.

The-Sneakerhead-Terminology-Cover

So do you really know the meaning and the terminology which is most likely to be used at the event, whether you speak to anyone and everyone, it would more or less consist of the terms listed below. Whether you are a beginner in the sneaker game, this would be a good place to start and get up to date but also if you an OG level in the game why not test your knowledge.

  1. Aglets: are the little things that are on the end of your shoelaces. They used to be made of simple plastic but now, they come in everything from carbon fiber to custom labeled versions to Jesus piece-matching gold on the Nike Air Yeezy II.

    nike-air-yeezy-2-ii-red-october-nike-store-1

  2. Beaters: are those kicks you always choose to wear, even after they’ve been worn over and over again. In fact, at a certain point, you start to love every bit of  its character that its shows in the form of creases, scuffs, stains, and that always lovely stench. Well, maybe not the stench. And without fail, even if you have 1,000 pairs of sneakers, you wind up with a pair of beaters. This is the one pair of sneaker that if it could talk, would tell a story of its own.
  3. Colorway: A sneaker’s colorway is the particular combination of colors applied to a sneaker. It’s also a vastly annoying term, but a necessary evil in this world of ours. Often times, a nickname is associated with the colorway that’s found on the box. For instance, the Oregon, the Black Cements and the True Blues are all different colorways of the Jordan III silhouette. Come on people, can’t we just memorize the color codes?The-Jordan-Colourway
  4. Deadstock: often shortened to just DS, is a term used to say that a pair of sneakers has never been worn. We’re not exactly sure how it went from “dead stock” to “deadstock,” but sometimes you just have to say, “It’s a sneakerhead thing.” Contrary to what eBay may lead you to believe, a sneaker that has been tried on, let alone “worn only inside” is NOT deadstock.
  5. Deubré: Nike is always on top of adding details to their sneakers. The iconic Air Force 1 features on of the most misnamed details in the sneaker world, the deubré (or dubray). Sure, “lacetag” works just as well to describe that little label at the base of the shoelaces, but deubré, the name just makes you sound so much cooler. We think it’s French for “whale’s vagina.”
  6. Grails: A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. For sneakerheads, grails are the same, in the sense that they’re the shoes you have to have before you die. Most grails tend to be uber-rare and extremely limited sneakers but for some sneakerheads, it can be that colorway that you can wear everyday and for others it’s that old pair you had as a kid that you wish you would have held onto. Grails are the shoe that complete you… and your sneaker collection. (Not that your collection will ever be “complete” — stop lying to yourself already.)joe-haden-sneaker-collection-cleveland-browns-02
  7. High Top: not rooftops-high like Wiz Khalifa, more like thunderous slam dunks and roughing people up in the paint high like David Robinson, Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins. High-tops back in the day were made to give additional ankle support. They were also actual high-tops, meaning the height of the sneaker was well above the top of the ankle. There are very few true high-tops made today, the Supra TK Society in fact, is the first one that comes to mind and it’s a skate shoe. Sigh. What passes for a “high” today would have been a low back in the day. Call us lame sneakerheads, but sometimes we miss those days.
  8. Lows: This one is pretty self explanatory, with the exception of, well, all sorts of things. Lows, or low-tops, are typically cut below the top of the ankle or lower. Or if it’s late in the day and you ain’t been on the court yet, call them a short set. Just like with high tops, back in the day lows were higher — the Charles Barkley worn Air Force 180 was actually the Air Force 180 Low, which it decidedly isn’t.adidas-originals-2013-spring-packk-1
  9. Mids: hated by most, loved by few, worn by all. When it comes to mids, silhouettes like the Dunk and Air Force 1 are an “acquired taste.” They were also latecomers to the party, created due to popular demand. However, trainers and many basketball shoes fall into the mid-cut category without the label, which somehow makes them better. Many high tops have been retroed AS mids, however, which is simply unacceptable.
  10. NIB (New in the Box) is short for new in box, or new in the box. Period. If a shoe has been taken out of the box, as long as you didn’t try them on and you put them back exactly as they were, they can still qualify. But they’re no longer deadstock, though. Sorry. (“NIB” is also a great Black Sabbath song that we’re pretty sure has nothing to do with sneakers.)
  11. OGsOriginals: Not a retro, not a re-release, but the first time a shoe released is the only time a sneaker is called OG. It’s like code, for original. Don’t get caught slippin’ and say a retro is an OG because the Twitter sneaker police will ridicule you, because, you know, they have nothing better to do.sneaker-pimps-2012-los-angeles-recap-14-620x413
  12. Player Edition: A player-edition sneaker is one that is designed for a specific player, and then made available at retail, often times as a quickstrike or limited release. The Ray Allen Air Jordan XIII is a great example of this, Boston Celtics colors, Sugar Ray’s signature on the tongue and released in limited quantities so that some fans get a chane to wear their hero’s shoes.
  13. Reseller: A reseller is someone who buys sneakers (usually in bulk) with the intent to sell them. Love them or hate them, they’re a part of this sneaker thing and they’re not going away. They make it hard  Some of them provide you with a chance to get OG releases that you won’t find anywhere else. Others, they walk out of the local mall carting a full size run of those retros you won’t be able to get, gloating and taking pics for Instagram along the way. Guess which type makes us bitter?
  14. Retro: A retro model is a sneaker that came out previously that is released again. Retro sneakers are simultaneously the best and worst thing about sneakers. On the one hand, a retro model (aka bring-back, throwback, re-release) gives most of us the chance to grab a pair of shoes we either couldn’t get before, or we wore so much we gotta have another pair. On the other hand, it’s retros that seem to be the highest in demand on the resale market, making them harder to come by because of the quick buck people think they can make off of them. But we’ll take any retros we can get, really.
  15. Hypebeast: You know that friend of yours that has to have every new limited release, even if it means selling the pair they just bought last week? The one that buys sneakers based on how many people on Twitter say it’s cool? Yep, we all have them. A Hypebeast consumes hype and reacts accordingly. Never forget, as PM Dawn once said: “Don’t believe the hype because if you do it might deceive you.” And you thought they were one-hit wonders. And, as someone else once said about hype, “as an equal can I get this through to you?”

 

 

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