Sneakerheads as fans and sneaker fandom as participatory culture
This paper considers sneakerheads, or sneaker collectors and enthusiasts, as fans. It explores both them and their participatory culture, developing a new approach to researching sneakerheads: I here conceptualize sneaker collecting as an object-inspired fandom to highlight the difference between sneaker fandom and other object-oriented fandoms. This paper demonstrates that sneaker collecting is about both collecting knowledge about the subject of sneakers and collecting sneakers themselves. The materiality of sneakers, the story behind a design, and the cultural history of sneakers attracts sneakerheads to sneakers. As such, I here explore the following characteristics of sneaker collecting: the importance of knowledge and its acquisition, the high value of the community's practices and activities, the high level of emotional involvement, fan art (sneaker art), and anticommercial ideologies and beliefs. The approach demonstrated in this paper could also be useful in research of other communities organized around collecting wearable goods, such as clothes or accessories, including football T-shirts, vintage denim, and bags.