As trainer consumption booms, so does the number of unwanted shoes. Can anything be done with them?
Sneaker Con is an aircraft-hangar-sized convention that smells worse and worse as the day goes on. I am at the London edition of the event, but it’s just been in Las Vegas, and is soon due to be in Berlin, then New York. Thousands of sneakerheads have paid the £25 entry fee and are browsing merchandise stalls piled high with sneakers. The price tags on these shoes are not for the faint-hearted: £550, £600, £700.
The attendees are approximately 95% male. Of the women here, many are the mothers of young boys. One of the few women not chaperoning a child is Helen. She lives in a rented three-bedroom house on the outskirts of London with her husband, Luke, and his collection of trainers. The shoes have filled up the loft and the spare room. When they began to invade her bedroom, Helen told Luke she needed some space. The couple booked a table at Sneaker Con, where their stall is piled with trainers which cumulatively cost tens of thousands of pounds. This expense has become a source of tension. “That’s why he had to stop,” Helen tells me. “Some are quick-strike releases: we’d be on a night out and have to pull over on the motorway to follow a Twitter link to get a pair of trainers.”