December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Is your footwear wish list more likely to include the names Michael Jordan and LeBron James than Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik?
Do you think nothing of spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on a pair -- make that multiple pairs -- of shoes that might not ever make it out of the box?
If you answered "yes" to those questions, you might be a "sneakerhead" -- someone who accumulates rare or limited-edition running shoes as a collectible, a commodity or a fashion statement.
And if you are one -- or if you're just interested in urban culture -- you'll want to head to the Canad Inns Destination Centre, next to the Club Regent Casino, on June 29 for the first Winnipeg Sneaker Swap Expo. The event runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at the Urban Bakery and Royal Sports.
More than a gathering for sneaker freaks to connect and get their "kicks," the all-ages expo is also a charity event to help put shoes on the feet of the city's less fortunate.
It's the brainchild of city sneaker freak Frendell Cano, who founded the non-profit Winnipeg's Got Sole to promote the subculture and give back to the community.
When attendees come out to buy, sell and trade some of the most sought-after, sports-icon-endorsed running shoes on the market, Cano urges them to also bring gently used shoes (of all types) to donate to Siloam Mission and Soles4Souls Canada. (The latter organization is on a mission to collect one million pairs of shoes in every province in Canada.)
"We're reaching out to fellow sneakerheads to express their love of the culture, give each other props and address the homeless issue in this city," says Cano, a 31-year-old IT specialist. His goal is to collect 300 used pairs of shoes at the expo.
Basketball Manitoba will be on hand to specifically collect basketball shoes for its outreach program.
Winnipeg has an active and growing sneaker community -- the Winnipeg Sneakerhead Facebook group has 534 members -- he says, and he envisions the sneaker swap becoming an annual convention on par with Sneaker Con, a huge, showcase event that travels to metropolitan centres across the United States.
Sneakerhead culture, according to Internet sources, began as an urban trend in New York in the 1970s. Basketball's rising popularity during the '80s -- namely the emergence of Michael Jordan and his eponymous Air Jordan line of basketball shoes -- and hip-hop music led the groundwork for a collecting subculture.
Cano got hooked in 2000 while still in high school.
"As soon as I graduated and got a job, I was able to get serious about it," he says.
"Serious" is a relative term here. While Cano's collection of nearly 100 pairs of sneakers might seem excessive to the average person, he's a lightweight compared to some of his buddies, who have broken the 300 mark.
"For the record, I wear all my shoes," says the recent purchaser of a pair of LeBron 10 South Beach Custom Nike iDs, which he got customized with the Winnipeg's Got Sole logo. He and his fellow sneakerheads are also excited about this week's much-anticipated release of the Air Jordan 5 Black Grapes, considered among the dopest summer kicks of 2013.
In addition to all the footwear, the Winnipeg Sneaker Swap Expo will also feature designer urban apparel and street wear and music from DJ Boom, as well as performances by local artists such as Lahcing of Brakada, Upnorth Kings, Nezzy and Saint Kris.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 18, 2013 C1