After checking out SneakerCon Toronto last fall, I had the opportunity to stop by and experience this year’s Sole Exchange Canada in the 6ix. Sneakerheads of all ages descended upon the Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre looking to buy, sell and show off their latest footwear to everyone in the room.
If you’ve been following streetwear trends in the last 15 years, you’d already know that sneakerhead culture plays a huge part in dictating what’s hot and what’s not in fashion today.
The global sneakerhead culture is growing exponentially each year. Nike, Adidas and other sneaker companies continue to flood the market place with ‘limited’ releases each month, fueling the ever-expanding resale market. Sole Exchange Canada is another forum for resellers to secure that bag and for collectors to finally get that last pair of Jordans to complete their set.
But according to organizer Dalton Jackson, it’s much more than that.
“Sole Exchange is Canada’s number one sneaker apparel event. We’ve been going for about 5 years. Our goal from the beginning is just about bringing the [sneaker] community together, giving the vendors a platform, and just really growing the culture as a whole.”
“I want [everyone] to know its a community event. You may meet someone here for the first time but it’s a great chance to connect and build relationships. That just brings the community together.”
Aside from vendors, it’s commonplace, even encouraged, for individuals to walk around with kicks in hand, looking to sell that limited release they were able to cop before anyone else.
Independent resellers Simon and Chip agree with Dalton that events like Sole Exchange are a necessity in order for the sneakerhead community to continue to grow in Canada.
“Honestly its a good environment for selling and buying”, says Simon. “There’s a lot of opportunities here that you can’t get on facebook markets.”
Additionally, Chip sees the unlimited potential of the sneaker culture in Canada.
“Its evolved over time. Maybe like 10 years ago the culture wasn’t as big as it is now. But I feel like it can obviously expand and get greater. With events like these, it gives it a chance to expand. The awareness of the [sneaker and streetwear culture in Canada] will get larger.”
But as the culture grows, competition among larger resellers continues to get more fierce. The pressure to make a profit and still keep prices competitive is what can make sneaker reselling a labour intensive sport. Hamilton, Ontario reseller Zack King knows this all too well.
“This is the second time buying a vendors table at Sole Exchange. The last time I sold a couple of pairs myself. So this time I was just hoping to do the same amount or at least a couple more pairs. Just trying to offer sneakers to the community that’s under the reselling price that’s already high as is.”
High or not, for most hypebeasts (if you don’t know that term, look it up) money is no object when it comes to copping that perfect limited release. Which is why the sneaker reselling market share is currently valued at $1 billion dollars.
You look around you see a lot of 12, 13, 14-year-olds. They’re going to fuel the culture for years and years to come.
Dalton doesn’t see it slowing down anytime soon.
“I think the (sneaker) community in Canada is doing amazing right now. It’s one of the most peaceful communities, it’s rapidly growing, and I think that growth it just going to continue for years to come. You look around you see a lot of 12, 13, 14-year-olds. They’re going to fuel the culture for years and years to come. I think we’re in good hands and it’s just going to keep getting bigger.”
Being a sneakerhead himself, Dalton didn’t hesitate to give us details on his sneaker of choice.
“My favourite is the Air Jordan Infrared 6. I’m known as the ‘6-god’. I have almost every pair of [Jordan] 6, maybe missing 1 or 2, but my favourite is the Air Jordan Black Infrared 6 for sure.”