No one is exactly sure why violence and sneaker sales go hand-in-hand, but it seems that every time Nike introduces limited edition pair on the market, the entire country becomes engrossed in widespread melee.
On Friday, sneaker lovers, or sneakerheads as they have become known in popular, waiting in line for the release of the Nike Foamposite Galaxy sneakers in Orlando, Fla. were disappointed when the sale was cancelled due to riots of about 3,000 people outside of Florida Mall. Similar incidents erupted across the country, including a person in Maryland who was arrested at The Mall at Prince George's in Hyattsville amidst a riot.
The latest riots and violence revolving around Nike's Foamposite Galaxy sneakers are not unlike past events of hysteria caused by hardcore sneaker aficionados. Back in December, riots and crime erupted upon the release of the Air Jordan XI Concord shoes. Reports immediately emerged as shopping malls were overcrowded and customers trampled over, multiple incidents of assault reported and police using pepper spray to subdue crowds looking to snag the limited release sneaker for $180. One man, in Jersey City, N.J. was even stabbed over the sneakers.
But why do riots even happen over sneakers?
Started in the 1980's at the height of his basketball career, sneaker collecting became a staple in its own subculture because of Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball star of all time. Jordan didn't just turn the sports world on its head, but also the shoe industry which immediately offered to create his own line of shoes. Unlike anything on the market at that time - they were in vivacious red and black colors -- Jordan used to wear the Air Jordan shoes on the court, despite the NBA's ban on the sneakers, resulting in $5,000 fines for each game. Following the release of his line of shoes in 1985, limited edition sneakers and reissues have become collector's items and highly coveted with a market now estimated at a worth of $1 billion annually thanks to the Air Jordan.
The hobby has even sparked an encyclopedia for sneaker collectors. Last May, Foot Locker launched Sneakerpedia, a Wikipedia for sneakerheads continuing the sneaker tradition. Directly related to the rise in popularity of hip-hop music, sneaker collecting has hit the rap world with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Fat Joe and Kanye West and notorious sneaker collectors.
Heightened even more thanks to the addition of online retailers, sneaker collecting is all about status based on who can obtain the unattainable, as many are released in limited quantities, like the Nike Foamposite Galaxy. Some of them even wind up being sold online for thousands of dollars, like the Foamposite which is currently advertised on eBay for $60,100.
The glow-in-the-dark Foamposite Galaxy was priced at $220 and did not stop sneaker fanatics from camping out to snag a pair. Made of durable foamposite, the sneaker not only ensures comfort in addition to resilience for the hefty price of $220, but is also a highly coveted collector's item. Inspired by space exploration and training suits, the galactic-themed sneakers in green, flat gold and blue grey are being released leading up to the 2012 NBA All-Star game in Orlando, Fla., home of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, for the first time in 20 years.
So what is all the fuss about these highly coveted sneakers that spark riots for hardcore sneakerheads, anyway? Here's a look at a few sneakers and released that resulted in melee.