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Confessions of an LA Sneakerhead

Nike Air Yeezy 2. Image via <a href="">Sole Collector</a>.
Nike Air Yeezy 2. Image via Sole Collector.

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From LF to Louboutin, we've experienced our share of women's shoe bonanzas. And although high-heel hoarders are certainly a loyal and, at times, rowdy bunch—especially when their dream style is on sale—nothing rivals the passion of sport footwear fanatics, also known as sneakerheads.

According to Urban Dictionary, a certified sneakerhead is "a person who collects limited, rare, OG, or flat out exclusive kicks. Usually the collection consists of [Air] Jordans or [Nike] Dunks." Or Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezys, as is the case of Leo Ignacio—a director at an LA-based non-profit organization. Here, the seasoned collector sheds light on a phenomenon that's been infiltrating your local Foot Locker for decades.

When did your love affair with sneakers begin?
"It all started back in 1989, when I was in elementary school. I fell in love with the Air Jordan 4s in Black/Cement. I remember that I couldn't afford them. I didn't own a pair of J's until I got a job after high school."

What is the most expensive sneaker that you've ever purchased?
"At the time it was hyped, I'd say the Nike 'What the Dunk'. The going rate at the time of its peak pricing was $1,300, and my size was rare to find for hyped shoes—I'm a size 13. I also owned a pair of Nike Air Yeezy 1s in Zen Grey in size 14, which resells now at close to $1,500-$2,000 at deadstock price."

What's the longest line you've ever waited in for a shoe release? Did a fight break out?
"I've never experienced a fight, luckily. When Nike SB (Skateboarding) shoes were very popular, I camped out for dunks on occasions for at least four to five hours at a time. I was the type to call certain places and wait hours before the store opened to get my size, 13, since they usually only had one size in the run."

Have you made any lifelong friends in these lines?
"Actually, the majority of my good friends are sneaker enthusiasts. I contact and keep in touch with a lot of them simply because we have the same things in common, we are all the same size, and we buy, sell and trade shoes often. I met a few at sneaker events, lines and malls, and meetups from blogs, groups and even Craigslist."

What is the coolest sneaker on the market right now?
"I have learned that the coolest sneaker is what the celebrities wear and flaunt. If they are wearing it, it is valuable to all. At this time, the Nike Air Yeezy 2 in Black/Solar Red is considered the coolest and hard-to-find shoe that everyone wants. It was a limited release that retailed at $250 at select boutiques in select sizes. It now sells at close to $2,000-$3,000."

What brand releases the most sought-after, limited-edition shoes?
"It seems that Nike, along with the Jordan brand, remain hot. Shoe collectors like myself who collect everything seem to love the older shoes and how they look, and love different colorways, and love that they have brought back shoes that were hard to get and find years ago."

Is there a blog or forum that you frequently visit to find out about shoe releases?
"I stay on Sole Collector, Kix and the City, Sole Stop, Sole Redemption, 23isback and a few groups on Facebook."

What is your best tip for anyone that wants to buy a popular sneaker before anyone else?
"Try to find a contact who will consistently sell to you. Network and build relationships. And, if you wait long enough, resellers will sell cheaper and eventually sell all the stuff they bought up for what they originally paid."
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