Streetwear Apparel Designer

What does an Apparel Designer do?

Apparel Designers are responsible for creating new styles for streetwear brands. They also conceptualize designs that are in line with the brand’s creative direction, consumer focus, and price point. Designers perform market analysis and research new products and fabrics. In addition, they work in tandem with trend forecasters to pitch ideas to creative directors and develop products that are relevant.


How much does this career make?

According to Ziprecruiter, Apparel Designers maintain a national annual salary of $54,875, which is an hourly wage of $26.38. In general, entry-level apparel designers start around $38,500 annually. On the other hand, senior-level apparel designers make an annual average of $78,000. The range in salary widely depends on factors including skill and seniority level.


What impact does this career have towards the streetwear industry?

Apparel Designers have their ears to the ground when it comes to creating culturally relevant designs. Moreover, they have an understanding of what the market wants at the moment and what will hold up over time. They comfortably shift between those demands and define new, unexpected trends.


What is the job outlook for an Apparel Designer?

Global apparel revenue is forecasted to grow to $2.25 trillion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for fashion designers (including Apparel Designers) are expected to show little to no change this decade (


Don C, Apparel Designer

Learn from: 
Don C
Streetwear Essentials contributor, Founder & Designer at Just Don

Related Careers:

Technical Designer | Fashion Designer | Pattern Maker | Accessories Designer | Sample Maker | Footwear Designer | Graphic Designer | Product Developer | Director of Merchandising & Design | Product Line Manager | Creative Designer | Fit Model

Creative Director, Streetwear

What does a Creative Director do?

A Creative Director leads a brand’s design team and oversees all aspects of product conceptualization, manufacturing, and distribution. They also curate the brand’s identity and messaging. Directors monitor production from conception to completion in order to make everything on brand. Moreover, they develop design concepts and manage creative team members.


How much does this career make?

According to Comparably, Creative Directors maintain a national annual salary of $100,773, which is an hourly wage of $48.45. In general, junior-level creative directors start around $93,328 annually. On the other hand, senior-level creative director make an annual average of $235,890. The range in salary widely depends on factors including skill and seniority level.


What impact does this career have towards the streetwear industry?

Creative Directors are visionaries who push boundaries. In addition, they blur the line between high-end fashion and street culture. They also provide a voice for those who don’t fit into the luxury fashion world and are searching for outlets that represent them.


What is the job outlook for aCreative Director?

Global apparel revenue is forecasted to grow to $2.25 trillion by 2025. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for fashion designers (including Directors) are expected to show little to no change during the 2019-2029 decade (


Rhuigi Villasenor, Creative Director

Learn from: 
Rhuigi Villasenor,
Streetwear Essentials contributor, Creative Director

Founder & Creative Director at RHUDE

Related Careers:

Apparel Designer | Technical Designer | Fashion Designer | Pattern Maker | Accessories Designer | Sample Maker | Footwear Designer | Graphic Designer | Product Developer |  Director of Merchandising & Design | Product Line Manager | Fit Model

Your Ultimate Career Guide into the Streetwear Industry

Streetwear, a counter-culture-filled fashion phenomenon, draws inspiration from subcultures including hip hop, skateboarding, surfing, and graffiti. Once seen as “this season’s trend,” its emergence and growth have formed into a category of its own — sneakers, graphic T-shirts, hoodies, fashion accessories, and home goods. Bypassing traditional retail channels through direct-to-consumer strategies and a resale economy, streetwear has proved its viability as a lifestyle with a global streetwear market estimated at $185 billion in sales. While many want to enter the streetwear industry as an apparel designer, graphic designer, or their own brand owner, it takes an array of departments and positions to develop a streetwear collection. What are they and how do you get started in your streetwear career?

To help you determine and achieve your career goals, we have created this comprehensive guide. Yellowbrick’s The Ultimate Streetwear Career Guide is your source to discover careers and learn entry points into the streetwear industry. In this guide, you can begin to explore the streetwear jobs that drive the streetwear industry, then search for your perfect career by area of interest, skills, companies, or industry experts. 

The Ultimate Streetwear Career Guide

Learn about your skills and interests, and articulate them confidently to identify career options that you might want to pursue. Then, implement a successful strategy to attain your desired career outcomes.

In this guide you’ll find the following information:

  • Overview of The Streetwear Industry
  • Future of Work within Streetwear
  • Streetwear Career Library
  • Career Planning Strategy to get into The Streetwear Industry

You’ll also find simple exercises that help you:

  • Form a career planning strategy to get into the streetwear industry
  • Find your passion in streetwear and identify an area of interest to pursue
  • Learn the streetwear industry through top brands and its key players
  • Identify your skills and match them to an area of interest in streetwear

Download this guide to start planning your sports industry career. Whether you’re a novice, a student, or a professional, you can further your career path by downloading this guide that will help you begin to understand the sports industry opportunities available, as well as the skills and qualifications you need to succeed. Feel free to also check out our Streetwear Essentials Course for even more training and qualifications. Our course offers expert insights, practical training, and real-world experience to help you take your streetwear career to the next level.

The Ultimate Streetwear Career Guide

Top Stories in 2021: The Supply Chain Crisis

An alarming email leaked on November 23, 2021. In the communication, Nike informed a retailer that it had canceled all of the store’s existing orders through most of 2022 due to supply chain issues. As a result, the store was suddenly without stock for the remaining Holiday 2021 Season, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022. If this situation were a singular occurrence, it likely would have remained in the news cycle for a short period. However, the incident showed a light on a growing crisis lurking on our periphery for more than a year.

How Does The Supply Chain Work?

First thing’s first, what is a supply chain? It is the network between a company and its suppliers to manufacture and distribute a product to the consumer. It’s a multi-step process. Depending on the type of product, some of the steps include — acquiring and molding raw materials into finished products, transporting those products, and distributing them to the final buyer. 

Supply Chain

Companies partner with vendors, warehouses, transportation services, distribution centers, and eCommerce or brick & mortar retailers as part of their production and manufacturing process. Because of this, disruption to one of these cogs can interrupt the supply chain.

Companies partner with vendors, warehouses, transportation services, distribution centers, and eCommerce or brick & mortar retailers as part of their production and manufacturing process.

Supply chain partners can either be stateside or in international territories. It’s become common for companies to outsource much, if not all, their products to global markets to limit expenses. In addition, companies often employ a supply chain manager to ensure the supply chain is running smoothly. Or, in the case of Nike, an entire department is dedicated to supply chain management and logistics.

There are three primary flows of supply chain management: the product flow, the information flow, and the finances flow. 

  • The Product Flow refers to the physical movement of goods from a supplier to a customer and involves customer service. 
  • The Information Flow focuses on availability regarding the status of an order by reporting on the location of orders and updating delivery status. 
  • Finally, the Financial Flow handles credit terms, payment schedules, consignment, and title ownership arrangements.

What Went Wrong?

There isn’t a straightforward answer to what led to the supply chain crisis in fashion. The Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated supply chain issues as workplace shutdowns led to a lack of workers. This in turn caused manufacturing and shipping delays. Nike has reported many problems, from shipping container shortages to a lack of workers. 


The sneaker giant has also cautioned they may continue to experience manufacturing problems due to local lockdowns at factories in Vietnam and Indonesia. Nike, along with Under Armour and Adidas, has already reported a shortage of inventory and synthetic materials used to make athletic shoes. When supplies are in shortage, companies drastically inflate prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows shoe prices increased 6.5 percent in September 2021 in comparison to September 2020. Women’s shoes were up 4.9 percent, children’s 11.9 percent, and men’s increased 5.5 percent. 

Cotton shortages are also a growing concern. Dirk Vantyghem, Director General of the European Apparel and Textile Federation (Euratex), discussed the implication of rising prices, “It’s not just a shortage of supplies. There are some serious price increases which are making our European textile producers nervous.” In August of this year, raw cotton prices were 18% above their 2020 average. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows shoe prices increased 6.5 percent in September 2021 in comparison to September 2020. Women’s shoes were up 4.9 percent, children’s 11.9 percent, and men’s increased 5.5 percent. 

What’s Being Done To Navigate The Supply Chain Crisis?

Fashion brand Benetton made waves earlier this year when Chief Executive Massimo Renon announced that the brand would relocate some of its manufacturing from Asia to Southeast Europe and North Africa. The move would ease costs of shipping and expedite delivery. “It’s a strategic decision to have more control on the production process and also on transport costs. Today a shipping container that used to cost $1,200-1,500 can cost $10,000-15,000, with no certainty of a delivery date,” Renon explained.

Supply Chain

Can The Supply Chain Be Fixed?

That’s a difficult question to answer. The bad news? There aren’t any short-term fixes to address the supply chain. The simplest remedy would be to hire more workers in manufacturing and transportation. However, that requires companies willing to spend on labor and workers interested in those job vacancies. 

There aren’t any short-term fixes to address the supply chain. The simplest remedy would be to hire more workers in manufacturing and transportation. However, that requires companies willing to spend on labor and workers interested in those job vacancies. 

The slightly better news is that even though prices are surging across multiple industries — including gas and groceries — consumers are still spending at high rates. As a result, some experts have predicted that the supply chain crisis will extend into 2022 and possibly 2023. If consumers keep spending and demands remain, the supply chain will not get an opportunity to catch up to demand and adequately recorrect itself any time soon.

What To Keep In Mind

So what does all of this mean for footwear entrepreneurs? If you have your own brand, you may have already experienced delays in production. As the crisis wears on, evaluate opportunities to save costs. This may involve marking up the cost of your products to offset any increase in costs of production. Also, invest in quality customer service; communicate about delays as quickly and as often as possible. Furthermore, be transparent about any increased costs for your products and services.

Supply Chain

For more information on the importance of the supply chain in sneaker manufacturing, check out Yellowbrick’s Sneaker Essentials. If you’re interested in a job in sneaker manufacturing, download our Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide or Ultimate Streetwear Guide.

How Social Media Affects the Sneaker Community

One popular trend in sneaker culture right now is unboxing videos. And the best unboxing videos are the ones that are the most creative, whether it be camera angles or the suspense of what’s going to be shown, or if it’s just that the product is such an amazing one that people need to see it. Those are a few of the things that make a good unboxing video. However, what also makes a good unboxing video is a good host. Someone who can interject humor into their own personality in a way that adds to the product. When the host is able to do that, it gives you a real reason to want to watch it. For the most part, people are unboxing all of the same stuff. One of the biggest criticisms about sneaker media in general is that oftentimes, the hosts aren’t as informed as maybe they should be. They don’t necessarily take the time to do the research before getting on camera, but they’re still making statements without really knowing what they’re talking about. So, if you’re going to make an unboxing video, or any type of sneaker YouTube video, you should go into it with an informed opinion, and probably already have an idea of the things that you’re going to say. Or, at least talk about a subject that you feel confident giving factual information about. This is a good idea because if you’re going to have potentially hundreds of thousands of people watching it, you don’t want to be giving them the wrong info. There are thousands of sneaker-related Instagram and Twitter accounts out there that you can follow. But which ones are actually worth spending your time on? Well, it kind of depends what it is that you’re looking for. The brand accounts are kind of obvious because they’re going to end up in your feed regardless. Usually, it’s best to look for the accounts that can give you something you aren’t seeing elsewhere. There are a lot of good resellers to follow. There are guys like @solestreetsneakerco in New York who sometimes have some good information before the official accounts really do. Vintage sellers are also worth following too because they show you a lot of history that you don’t necessarily see on regular sneaker websites. A couple of these are Gusto in Japan or Doggsfoot. They come out with posts showing crazy pairs that you totally forgot about, or didn’t even know existed. Leaker accounts are also good to follow because they’ll show you what’s coming out way ahead of time. Some of these accounts, like @pinoe77 can help give you an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes in the sneaker industry. Hashtags are important because they’re a fun way to talk to others in the sneaker community and create little moments around what people are discussing. We use them a lot on our show “Full Size Run,” just to reference moments that we’ve talked about before or reference the hashtag “team early.” That’s the hashtag that someone might post on Twitter or Instagram when they want to show off about getting a new pair of sneakers a couple of weeks ahead of time. These are just a few of the ways that people in the sneaker industry and community use social media to interact and share information. And it’s great to see how the advancement of technology can really help grow these kinds of communities. Online sneaker education allows you to learn more about how the sneaker industry and community have changed and evolved, and it’s the perfect way to get your sneaker education with nothing more than an internet connection.

How to Make Your Sneaker Education Believable

I think the best way to cultivate an audience is to think about your brand. It’s kind of corny at this point, but I think you really do kind of think, “What are the things I care about?” or “ What’s my point of view, and how can I show that to people?” Ask yourself, “What specific sneakers am I into? What brands am I obsessed with? Which ones do I not care about so much?” Be honest with yourself. Ask, “Which ones do I go to only for those looks?” If you’re not an Adidas guy, people are going to know that it’s not that authentic if a pair of Adidas sneakers show up on your feed and you’re talking about how obsessed you are with them. People on the internet remember things. If you didn’t like this shoe two weeks ago and now you love it, they’re going to call you out on it. And they’re going to want to know why. I think it’s really important to just think about the things that you’re putting out there. Once you figure that out, you can decide how and when you want to put it out there. At that point, you can also decide who you want to interact with to get into different people’s feeds and hopefully make people pay attention to the things you have to say – things that are of value and what stories you want to tell. The Ultimate Online Sneaker Education It’s extremely important to have a website to have your work and portfolio housed within a digital space where people can easily access and look into who you are and what you do. In terms of social media, there’s obviously a way to brand yourself. As creatives, we tell stories visually. We engage visually, so Instagram is like a dream come true for everyone and maybe even having a Facebook gallery or Twitter page is beneficial. What Are Different Ways That We Can Craft That Story? The storytelling process and the presentation itself is a form of art. With the boom of social media, I’ve been able to just build my own separate brand, ironically, with just the pictures that I post. I actually didn’t even know that I had an eye for photography or for real imagery until I started using social media. That was a fun exercise for me to better understand cropping, imagery, and lighting. I had to figure out how to keep information entertaining and discover different ways to capture and retell a story that’s been told over and over again. I have multiple classes that I teach and occasional in-person workshops about different ways that we can brand ourselves. Someone who’s a jewelry designer, or a florist, or someone who’s a sneaker designer will all need to find ways to tell stories. But how can we do it in a way that’s engaging, interesting, and that’s worth telling? There’s enough content in the world, so what can we do and offer that’s actually different and special? Using Social Media to Dive Into the Sneaker Industry The best way to maintain, grow, and connect with your audience is through social media. I think social media is an extremely powerful platform that, when utilized correctly, can open up a lot of doors and can take you to places that you would have never dreamed that you could have gone otherwise. The most important part of social media is that it’s social. It’s a two-way street. It’s a conversation that you’re trying to have with people. It’s a community that you’re trying to build. I think a lot of people fall short in their social media strategy by trying to make it too much of a one-way street – too much of, “I’m talking at you and not talking with you.” You want to create a conversation with people. To start, you have to figure out what your angle or approach is to the content. If your content is primarily video-based, obviously, you go straight to YouTube. But you also have to leverage Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, and all other social platforms to kind of funnel people back to your hub, which in this case would be YouTube. If you’re going for more of a still image approach, obviously that is Instagram. That would be more of where you’re taking stylized pictures of sneakers that you picked up and your outfits – the things you would see on Instagram. If you’re looking to do written words, especially now that Twitter has increased their character count to 280 and let you thread things up, you’ve got to go to Twitter. In that case, what you would be doing is posting maybe one or two images of sneakers but then providing some detailed text along with it. With that being said, in order to really have a full approach to sneaker content in 2018, you basically have to have all of them. But what you should do, because it’s impossible–especially if you’re one person–to give 100% to all the platforms, is choose one that is going to be your main platform. Give most of your energy to that and then use the other platforms as complementary pieces to drive people to your main platform. I think for me, when I look at social media or media as a whole, it might be best to have different accounts. You have a Twitter account. You have an Instagram account. You may have a YouTube account. You may write for a website. You might write for Medium or something like that. If you’re continually updating all these things, you’re going to see which ones you’re getting the biggest reaction out of. That’s just natural. Some of these sneakerhead guys are really good at Instagram, but they’re not really good at Twitter. They’re two different platforms. You have to just try them out and see what you’re going to be best at. And chances are, you’re probably going to be better at one than the other. You should also follow a variety of people. You can follow someone who just came into the game, but they are making a name for themselves. In contrast, you shouldn’t balance that with people who have been into this for a very long time and have a proven track record of producing good content, knowing what they’re talking about, and having good connections. If you’re serious about getting a career or starting a career in the sneaker industry, you have to balance them both. You have to know what the 13-year-old kid is doing on YouTube but also maybe the 30-plus-year-old man who’s been doing this for 20 years. This way, you will get a nice, full scope of the culture and of the community. My direct line of content is YouTube. That is the largest community of sneaker-related videos in the world. So from YouTube, I am able to get 12- and 13-year-old kids who are doing vlogs and showing what they copped from Supreme, the Yeezys they unbox, and so on and so forth. I’m also able to get the people who are doing a bit more deep dives into the background and details of a sneaker, to people who give you your release dates and your info, and to people like us at Sole Collector who are doing different things. Where we’re giving you a sneaker-related game show, which is more of a scripted platform rather than a “vloggy,” social media-type thing. And following the right people on both platforms is very important to shaping your editorial perspective.

How to Make a Sneaker Unboxing Video That Will Stand Out

Personally, I’ve never done an unboxing. But the content, in terms of unboxings in the sneaker industry, that I really like to consume are people whose voice I really trust. Authenticity is really important when it comes to unboxing. You have You also have Nightwing, who really puts sneakers to the test, and he’s very unbiased. If it works for this, if it doesn’t work for this, he’s going to tell you. In such a crowded space of unboxing, you really need to separate yourself through authenticity. There are tons of shoes that come through the Complex office nonstop. If we were giving the same amount of attention and the same amount of review time and not really pulling at the idiosyncrasies of what makes this sneaker better than the other or this sneaker better than the one we’ve reviewed last week, then no one’s really to take you seriously. When I think “authenticity,” I think a straight review of who, what, where, when, and why, but also what this is best for and what this is not best for in terms of a sneaker. That’s going to reign supreme and is currently really separating people when it comes to unboxing on YouTube. But consistency is the thing that makes you stand apart, and basically, the audience taking your word as legitimate. That’s part of your online sneaker education right there. You also must refrain from ever faking an audience. And always remember to be true to your fans. It’s a big deal. So, you could have the sneaker unboxing. Reviewing sneakers can be a really crowded area, but some people are doing it right. Consistency is key. And it may sound cliché, but your word is your bond when it comes to standing out in a space that’s already severely crowded. If I were doing YouTube unboxings, I would always look for a different angle. If the review thing is not my thing, maybe it’s something about how these look with this style of jeans. Or I would get into putting an outfit together with these sneakers and then establish some sort of rating system. But whatever it was, consistency and something that’s a little different than what’s happening in the unboxing space. It gives you a great opportunity to stand out. But really, your voice, your consistency, and how much your audience trusts your word reigns supreme when it comes to stuff like this. Even with something as simple as an unboxing video, there are a lot of different factors you have to consider. How many other people already have these shoes at the moment that I’m unboxing them? How fast can I turn this video around? Can I be the first one on YouTube who has these shoes? Because if I wait too long to edit it, there are already 20 other people who got sent the shoes from the brand, and I’m not really adding anything new. Just a bit of sneaker education to pay attention to here: you’ve gotta be able to bring something new to the table. As far as adding things that are new, you have to have your own perspective, your own voice, because just showing the product is not going to set yourself aside enough. If people care about who you are and they care about your opinions, then they’re going to be willing to listen to what you think about these shoes. Now, people don’t necessarily give their actual opinions in these videos because they might be scared of offending the brands or the person who sent in the sneakers gratis. But that’s a different story. Basically, you have to present these things in a way that’s unique. You can’t just show the product. In my opinion, in unboxing videos, the product is the star. That’s kind of different from a lot of these sneaker YouTube videos, where the person is the star. In unboxings, it is all about the sneaker, too, so you have to make sure you have gratuitous sneaker-porn type shots in there. You have to show the shoes. The shoes have to look good. If the lighting isn’t on point, if the shoe is out of focus, you’ve just got to start over. In making an unboxing video, the first thing I want to think about is, “What’s coming out soon that people really care about?” In any given week, there are a lot of shoes hitting retailers, and most of them aren’t going to be worth your time to create content around. What’s the biggest show releasing that week? What’s the limited collaboration that there’s not a lot of content around just yet? The second question is, “Can I get that shoe? Who can I rely on to get that shoe?” A lot of times, the person at the brand may have samples. They may be able to send you a pair. But they might not be able to get you a pair quick enough. Do I know a person at a retailer who can help out with that? Do I know a reseller who might have an early pair who’s willing to lend me them so I can shoot a video with them and maybe even send some business their way? Even if you don’t have access to a brand-new shoe that’s coming out, there’s still a lot to talk about with shoes that have been out or shoes that came out before the advent of a lot of this stuff. Even if you think about the SEO aspect, what are people searching for? What’s the shoe that came out 20 years ago that there might not be a lot of information about it online? Can I make a video about that that will populate in Google search results? And people will come, and watch the video, and learn more about the shoes, learn more about me, maybe even subscribe to my YouTube channel. What are the holes in that space that I can fill in that aren’t necessarily about new shoes, or what’s coming out next week, or what’s coming out two months from now? After that, it’s figuring out what exactly we want to tell about this shoe in a short time span. Two to three minutes is usually a good time to shoot for. How much information can we get in there? How much is too much? And then also, we kind of try and make it a little bit funny because we feel like the whole unboxing thing, a lot of people might take it too seriously. So, we try to give people a reason to come back, and hopefully my brilliant humor shines through in that.

How the Sneaker Industry Has Changed

When it comes to trying to get into any industry, I believe that the biggest thing is to pay it forward. With the sneaker industry, I’m not going to sugarcoat it—you aren’t going to get in and immediately start making a six-figure income with your first job. However, you can learn from people who will help you to eventually make six figures in this industry if you’re passionate about sneakers. With the right determination and approach, you could literally will yourself into getting a job. The good thing for people who are going to participate in sneaker education now is that the industry is a lot different than it used to be. When I was around, it was very cut and dry. Sneaker media wasn’t even what it is today. Nowadays, there are so many different aspects of it. I remember thinking of a marketing job as being stuffy and having to wear a suit. Now, though, when you’re in one of those jobs, you’re marketing the next Lebron shoe. Or you’re marketing the next Yeezy. The industry has grown so much that now there are so many different jobs that you would previously have thought of as only corporate jobs but have now been created by sneakers. I’m not going to say that it’s an easy business to get into, but I will say that there are a lot more opportunities in the industry. In the present day, there are many more jobs available to get into the sneaker space than there were back when I was first starting out. You just have to know how to work your way in. For anyone interested in finding their way into the sneaker industry, online sneaker education is an excellent starting point.

How the Dynamics of the Sneaker Community Impact Your Work

The internet has become the ultimate equalizer for everyone to respectfully look the same. At the start of hip-hop culture, however, originality was a major rule. For example, if you showed up wearing a pair of shoes that no one else had, you’d get the question, “Where’d you get those?” — which also happens to be the title of a book by Bobbito Garcia. That phrase was important to the hip-hop experience because originality is a serious law and rule to live by. If someone asked you where you got your shoes, you were not going to tell them. They just had to wait to see what you came up with next. You had to go and hunt for yourself if you wanted something that somebody else had. The Sneaker Industry: Then vs. Now These days, you don’t speak only about technology and how the internet has made it the ultimate equalizer, where anyone can get anything they see, anywhere, at any time — especially with e-commerce platforms. Now, you also have a new business model where certain companies are publicly traded on the stock market. When you have shareholders of sneaker companies that are publicly traded on the stock market, they want to see activity that is going to lead to a return on investment. This means that sneaker companies cannot just mysteriously drop sneakers, place them on a wall, then report some numbers a few months later. The shareholder wants full communication on what’s happening. So, now you have release dates. You have all these different things that go into sharing the news about the latest product. Now when this product releases, not only do the shareholders and others who care about the ROI know, but the sneaker lovers also know. That’s because everything is now on a 24/7 news cycle of full reporting, giving you release dates, colorways, and the stores where the new sneaker is going to be sold. This new way of doing things has totally shattered that rule of originality that folks like myself lived by for so long. So, in the early 2000s, with the popularity of sneakers, you had people starting to create their own websites, discussion groups, and forums online discussing their love of the shoes. Since this was uncharted territory, you had certain chat rooms and discussion forums online where there was a lot of common ground. The Start of the Online Sneaker Education Movement People shared an interest in talking about certain brands of sneakers. This led to a sort of flea market behind the scenes, where people would buy, sell, and trade them. People would report their thoughts about certain shoes and stories connected to them. This tightly tied into that whole sneaker community vibe. The sneaker media really expanded when sneaker companies began to put money behind some of these companies to give them seeded product. This means they were getting product for free, which leaned them toward reporting more about one brand over another. For example, when you’re a person like me — with 29 brands of sneakers in my closet — you looked at the sneaker media online, and after a while, in those media outlets and forums, you started only seeing reports, praise, and coverage for maybe two or three brands. This influence was not lost on the sportswear and sneaker companies themselves. Quality Sneaker Education Is Hard To Come By These manufacturers knew that they had to get in on the ground floor of gaining influence with the sneaker journalists. Some companies operated with little or no influence, so they remained purely impartial. Those companies were the ones that were actually able to give the consumer a real take on the good versus the bad — that this shoe does what it says it’s going to do, while that one makes claims it really can’t live up to — while addressing price, quality, and things like that. Now, there really isn’t a lot of neutrality in reporting because of the corporate influence on the sneaker journalist. So, because their sites are now owned by major corporations, a lot of sneaker journalists have to march to a corporate policy and watch what they say about certain sneaker companies because there are ad dollars at stake. There are business deals at stake. There are still some companies that will give you a true consumer reporting experience about the sneaker and its related products. But as a whole, the sneaker media outlets have become tainted over time. Improving the Sneaker Industry I think the entire industry needs to operate with a little more impartiality and honesty. There are still outlets out there that can give you that. You’ll have a true picture of what the product is that’s representing the industry these days. I think internet culture has been super important to the way sneaker culture has grown and changed. In the earliest days, you had message boards like NikeTalk. You had the earliest version of the SLAM website, which was updated maybe once a day. It is really funny to think about how it would get just one update a day that included all the new information. Now everything changes all the time. I think on one hand, it’s easier than ever to keep up and be on that leading edge. You’re going to get your push notifications not only from the actual sneaker companies through the SNKRS app or Adidas CONFIRMED app, but you’re probably also going to get pushes from Complex, Highsnobiety, and SLAM — often about the same exact show, probably with a very similar story. I mean, look, we all have jobs to do. I think we do them well. At some point, a sneaker is a sneaker, and whatever you read about is going to tell you pretty much the same thing. So as much as all of us are editors, writers, and whatever else, you kind of have to be your own editor of this stuff. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot here, but you don’t have to follow everybody who talks about sneakers because you’re going to hear a lot of the same things from them all. Finding Legit Online Sneaker Education If you’re getting overwhelmed by the information, photos, or whatever else, you can can adjust that. You know the funny thing is that, in the earliest days of the sneaker internet, there wasn’t enough. Everyone was asking, “Who’s the plug?”, “Who’s giving us the best information?”, “Where can I find the photo of this sample Air Jordan that’s floating around?”, and “Where can I find a better photo of it?” In many cases, the answer was nowhere because you would have a shot of a shoe on a conference table that someone smuggled out of headquarters, and that was all. Now there’s almost too much. Nike or adidas will do their promo push on a shoe. Minutes or seconds later, everyone in the sneaker internet, whether a publication or a person, will push out that same information. So, it might seem like a flood, but it’s a flood of the same things. If you cut it down to specifically what the product is, there’s probably a lot less out there than you think. It’s just a matter of finding the right places to get it. The good thing is there are a lot of answers to that. There is no wrong place to get it, unless you’re looking at sites selling fakes, which I don’t really advise. For legit info, feel free to pick amongst all of us. Pick amongst everyone. Find the one that suits you best, and you really can’t go wrong.