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Dear Sneakerheads: We Need To Be Better

Instead of cashing in on an artist’s death, perhaps holding onto their art is the best way to honor their legacy.

Off-White Chicago MCA by Puppyc is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Dear Sneakerheads: We Need To Be Better

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

When I was cobbling together my look for my wedding back in 2019, there was one shoe I had on my mind: the Jordan 1 Off-White UNCs.

I mean, this shoe is a work of art. It literally took my breath away the first time I saw them. And while I didn’t end up lacing them up on the day of my nuptials, I had a very good second-option, a pair of Obsidian 1s gifted to me by the person who got me into sneakers.

What stopped me from completing my dream look? Price. At the time, the Off-White UNCs were going for around $1,200, a price I just couldn’t wrap my head around. It’s not that I didn’t think the shoes were worth the price tag. No, the opposite. I couldn’t spend that much money on a pair of shoes that I’d want to wear once and then put in a glass case until I wear them at my funeral. That’s a lot of money to spend on a piece of art.

And now the price of those same shoes is spiking, north of $3,000 on the news that Off-White designer and Louis Vuitton’s menswear Artisitic Director Virgil Abloh has passed away after a battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

In fact, almost all of Virgil’s designs have seen massive jumps in resale price, some even reaching $9,000.

Sneakerheads, we have to be better than this. We have to stop capitalizing on tragedy to sell shoes. It’s abhorrent and shameful. And don’t lie to yourself here. When you saw the news, the first thing we all did was check pricing on StockX and GOAT. I’m guilty of that, and I feel terrible for doing it. But this isn’t the first time this has happened.

When news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death spread throughout the world, sneakerheads and resellers took the opportunity to surge the pricing on Mamba’s most famous sneakers. A pair of Kobe 4 Protro Undefeated, that retailed for$190, went for nearly $1,000 minutes after his death. The same pair of shoes sold for between $201 and $205 six days prior. The need to reach for something that connected you to Kobe was universal, but some took the opportunity to cash in.

At the end of the day, reselling is a business. However, it’s one that is uniquely set up to serve one specific group: sneakerheads. Collectively, if we all joined our voices and said “hey, this isn’t us” perhaps we could evoke change. We need to remember why we got involved in sneakers.

It’s not for the money. It was never about the money.

And now, as Virgil’s legacy of creative courage and bold design remain, it’s important for all of us to remember that the art of the sneaker is what’s important. And if you’re lucky enough to own a pair of shoes that came from the genius behind Off-White and Louis Vuitton, hold onto them. The cost of losing something important, shouldn’t be the first instinct of our community, which is reeling from the loss of someone important.

If anything, as a way to honor a man who broke barriers and evoked change in the fashion world, let’s use this moment to evoke change in our community.

Sneakerheads, we need to be better.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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