The smell of new shoes, extra cologne and cold hard cash filled the air at Sneaker Con 2019 over two days this past weekend. The scene at the Dallas Market Center, where Sneaker Con took place, was a noisy, colorful and fast-paced spinning world of all things sneaker culture.
The door charged a mere $25 for a single-day pass and $40 for a two-day pass ticket. The crowd's variety, though, was priceless — a mix of people ranging from hip-hop snobs to soccer moms getting dragged by their sons from booth to booth. Sneaker purists were on a hunt for the rarest and most expensive shoes, apparel and accessories. Large booths with impressive setups were decorated with vibrant banners, lights and salespeople ready to sell you your dream kicks.
Rows of smaller booths melded into each other with vendors from all over the country. In the back of the venue there was a sea of smaller vendors using floor space to display their merchandise. The word "Supreme," a skateboarding brand, was everywhere — on everything from lighters and AirPods cases to shirts and even dog leashes. Jordans and Yeezys were the most commonly appearing brands, and a majority of the vendors had multiple pairs for sale.
For the die-hard sneaker fans, there were coveted pairs like the Kanye West x Louis Vuitton Jasper (patchwork) that retail for $4,500, but which were available at Sneaker Con for $3,000. One of the rarest shoes was the Nike Air Force 1 Low Off-White MCA University Blue, which haven’t been released to the public yet, and which retail for $2,400.
Many were buying shoes literally off each other’s feet, as some vendors used the opportunity to walk around with shoes for sale without renting booth space.
Sneaker Con pulled out all the stops, with an onsite barber and a DJ spinning music — possibly meant to drown out the yells of the haggling potential buyers — and an impressive panel of speakers such as YouTuber Seth Fowler.
“Dallas extended Sneaker Con from a one-day event to a two-day event this year, and that shows the sneaker culture is really growing and thriving here,” he told the Observer of his experience. In addition to his YouTube channel, Fowler travels the world while covering sneaker culture and has come to be regarded as a shoe expert.
“It is good to see the culture catching on in Dallas like in other countries like China or other Asian countries," he said. "They’re really big into the sneaker movement over there. It’s like a whole different world.”
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The sneaker movement, as Fowler pointed out, now extends beyond the purchase of shoes and shoe accessories, as a practical — though often expensive — commodity. It's become a huge umbrella for production, with manufacturers cashing in on sneaker enthusiasts' brand loyalties. Sneaker Con featured artist booths selling finely detailed wall clocks that were, of course, sneaker-themed.
The event proved that the sneakerhead market is seemingly endless, with vendors who specialize in providing sophisticated methods for prime sneaker upkeep. SupBro, for instance, makes high-end transparent sneaker boxes that both display shoes but also keep them free of dust. Crep Protect also had a booth and displayed their line of sneaker-cleaning products.
Before buying either new or used shoes, the crowd headed over to the “Legit” authentication booth, where, for a price, they could receive a tag proving the authenticity of their purchase. This was the longest line at the entire con, even longer than the endless ATM line. Sneaker Con was well-organized and seemingly prepared for any scenario. Even the Dallas Police Department was onsite in case anyone decided to get ... sneaky.