Can I Kick It? (Yes You Can)

Sneakerheads in Southeast


Evan Merrell, Broadcast Editor

Since the original debut of the Air Jordan 1 in 1985, collectable basketball shoes and sneakerhead culture as a whole has been launched into the spotlight with people paying outlandish amounts of money to get their hands on their favorite pair of shoes. Since then, sneakerhead culture has blossomed into something no one could have imagined. With consistent releases of new styles, new collaborations and new colorways, there is truly a shoe for everyone. Unsurprisingly, the hype has infiltrated the streets of Lincoln, when out in public it is not uncommon to see someone wearing a pair of Jordan 4’s or some colorful Dunk Low’s. LSE is not an exception to the trend and for many students shoes are a way for them to express their individuality at school. 


For senior Ben Smith, shoe collecting started in seventh grade with his dad. 

“My dad was in middle school in the 80s so he was on all the original [Air] Jordans and he’s always been a crazy sneakerhead,” Smith said. 

Eventually this excitement for sneakers had worn off on Smith, and by ninth grade he was ready to get his hands–or feet–dirty.

“Me and my dad struck a deal. If I got all A’s he would split the bill with me on a pair of Fire Red Jordan 4s which had just dropped a few months before and I wanted them so bad,” Smith said. 

Smith still has his Fire Red’s today and credits them as being his favorite pair that he owns. 

Another big name in the LSE shoe game is junior Carson Kiesel. His love for sneakers started somewhere one might not expect; Spider-man. In the 2018 Marvel Animated movie, main character Miles Morales is seen wearing a pair of Jordan 1 Chicago’s, the original Air Jordan shoe. 

“Because of the movie, Nike released a pair of Jordan 1’s that resembled the shoes,” Kiesel said, “Except they had a Spider-Suit texture on the red parts of the shoe.”

At first sight of the shoe Kiesel knew he had to have them.

“That year I got the Spider-Man pair for my birthday, and have sort of fallen in love with collecting them and the culture behind them,” Kiesel said. Since then, Kiesel has been bolstering up his collection with new and exciting pairs. Nowadays, you won’t ever catch him in the hallways without a fresh pair of kicks on.

Finally, senior Ethan Gerbeling has also amassed an impressive collection of sneakers since his first pair in middle school.

“Back in like seventh or eighth grade I got a pair of black and white Nike Ebernons. They were like an alternative for dunks but I could get them at Famous Footwear and they weren’t crazy expensive,” Gerbiling said. Gerbiling then got his first pair of Jordan 1’s during his freshman year of high school.

“I got a pair of Jordan 1 Silver Metal’s and those were my first really really cool, really special pair.” Gerbiling said. 


Many of the shoes that you see being collected today are going for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on the secondary market. Websites like StockX and GOAT resell pretty much any pair you can think of, for much over retail value. The demand for sneakers has become so high in recent years that Nike has had to implement a raffle system for their shoes. Winners don’t necessarily receive a free pair, but just the opportunity to purchase one.

“A lot of people don’t, and I definitely don’t, as a highschooler, have the money to pay the ridiculous prices on the secondary market,” Kiesel said. ”The majority of the shoes I have and wear I got retail for entering those raffles on the Nike App and getting lucky.”

A lot of this craze is sparked by the monopoly Nike has on collectors shoes. Jordans, Dunks and Air Force 1’s, which make up a majority of the collectors shoe market, are all owned and produced by Nike. 

“Nike specifically, I hate that they make such limited amounts because the resellers, who only buy the shoes to make money, end up with hundreds of pairs, and the people who actually want to wear and appreciate the shoe can never get their hands on them,” Smith said. According to Statisia, an online platform that specializes in making statistics and insights based on market and consumer data, Nike’s net revenue from footwear increased from 9.3 billion dollars in 2018, to 12.2 billion dollars in 2022.

Another big factor in the resurgence of collectors shoes has been technology, and the ease of sharing content with the world.

“Nike dunks have gone up so much in price, and I think really that’s because of online trends. You see the shoes on TikTok or on Instagram, really anywhere you look,” Gerbeling                                                                                                            said, “So when you see your favorite influencer wearing a pair of crazy shoes you want to go out and buy a pair of crazy shoes.” 


Finally, it would be a disgrace to talk about sneakers without mentioning the connections made between collectors, resellers, and everyone who enjoys sneakerhead culture. 

“Even here at Southeast I have made connections by talking about sneakers. Me and Ethan Gerbeling really connected over sneakers. Even Mr. Dell and I have had conversations with him about buying new shoes, I actually bought a pair from him last year,” Smith said. The same sentiment rings true for Gerbeling.

“Even if you pass someone in the street and say ‘yo nice shoes’ and start talking about what shoes you like and what they like, soon enough you’ve made a friend out of a complete stranger just because they were wearing some shoes,” Gerbeling said.

At the end of the day shoes are just another medium for people to express their individuality and be themselves. Gerbeling sums it up pretty well, “I would really just say wear what you like, you don’t necessarily have to follow the crowd or the trends, set yourself apart, don’t collect shoes just to conform.”