Inside the Obsessive World of Sneakerheads

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Intrigue! Obsession! Money! Obsession! It’s all here, in a very entertaining Village Voice peek inside the impassioned world of sneaker connoisseurs. The colorful piece, written by Elizabeth Dwoskin, profiles a bigwig among sneakerheads, Mark Farese (a.k.a. “The Mayor”)–he is the proud owner of 1,400 pairs of sneakers, most of them Air Force 1s:

Farese pulls out some of his most treasured possessions. There are the two white pairs on which Chinese characters are stitched in red thread that were manufactured for athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but never sold commercially. (He won’t say how he obtained them.) There are handmade pairs covered in real crocodile and anaconda skin and dyed in rich shades of red, orange, and black, that include lace tags with gold trim (Nike’s price: $2,000). . . . Some are made of suede or fake fur; others glow in the dark. He had one pair encrusted with real diamonds. Others have his name engraved in gold. Some have an image of his face that he commissioned an artist to design.

Farese, unlike many other sneakerheads, does actually walk a mile in his shoes. “People call me a collector,” he tells Dwoskin, “but I’m a sneaker wearer. I wear my sneakers. It takes me a long time, ’cause I have an abundance, but I wear them.”

It’s a fascinating portrait of the sneakerhead subculture, in which Farese is a veritable celebrity. There’s a brilliant moment in the story where a 14-year-old fan meets Farese for the first time. “He’s, like, the king of all sneakerheads,” the boy tells the Voice. “I expected him to be a little cocky, but he blew me away ’cause of how respectful he was of everyone else’s shoes. And he told me not to just focus on sneakers, but to focus on, like, college and stuff, too.”

Source: Village Voice

Image by sling@flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

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