By Wayne Epps Jr. | Photos by James Chung 

For sneakerheads, shoes aren’t just shoes. They’re a hobby, an expression or even a job. Sneaker enthusiasts sometimes pay hundreds of dollars and wait in lines for hours to get the pair they’ve been coveting. We found JMU’s most dedicated sneakerheads, including a set of twins, to see just how many sneakers they have in their closets.

Alan Jones

Public administration graduate student


Which are your favorites?

I have a pair of OG [Jordan] Retro 12s. So they don’t have the Jumpman [logo] on them, they have the Nike Air on them instead and they came in the Nike box instead of the Jordan box. OGs are originals, and they bleed a little bit because they’re so old, but I have a pair of those. And then I have a pair of [Jordan 4] ‘Thunders’ that I got.

What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a pair?

It was $750, when they [re-released] the [Jordan 4] “Thunders”. I missed them when they first came out because they came out in a package with the “Thunders” and “Lightnings.” Then they started selling them separately. So when they started selling them separately, I bought a pair of “Thunders.”

 How would you describe the sneakerhead culture?

I feel like we’re trendsetters. The reason why you become a sneakerhead is because the first thing women notice about you are your shoes and your smile. So when you have nice shoes, you tend to get more girls. That’s the mindset that most guys have. That’s basically the sneakerhead culture — you’re a trendsetter and you’re fashionable.

Alex Jones

Adult education/ human resource development graduate student


How did your interest in shoes start?

Probably started when I was, like, in seventh or eighth grade. Before I started buying sneakers like I do, whatever sneakers I had I would wear them until they fell apart. I got to eighth grade, and just a group of friends that I had, they just constantly were buying new shoes. And, for me, it was interesting to see that and it piqued my interest because they all wore different types of Jordans or Nikes or Reeboks.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for a pair?

Some burgundy [Jordan] 5s came out when I was in 11th grade. I paid a friend to stand in line for me. And he charged me like $250 extra on top of what the shoes were worth. So that’s probably one of the craziest things, just because I didn’t want to do it and he went out at like 4:30 [a.m.] , and so I had to pay him to stand in line and then I had to pay him to pick up my shoes. And I met him in this sketchy area, it was really weird.

How would you describe the sneakerhead culture?

Sneakers are an art form. Just like anything else, whether it’s like music or dancing. I think we definitely see sneakers as art and it’s artistic and it’s an expression. So like the types of shoes that I get say a lot about my personality. I don’t just buy sneakers just to buy sneakers. I buy sneakers that say something about me or that say something about who I am and what I like to do.


Jonathan smith

Senior engineering major


Which are your favorites?

The “Bred” 1s, the black and [Jordan] Varsity 6s. I have the “Do the Right Thing” 3s. They’re one of my favorites. And “Infrared” Air Max 90s.

How would you describe the sneakerhead culture?

It’s changing a lot. Because everybody’s getting into shoes now and they want to call themselves sneakerheads and stuff like that. I’m not one of those people, but it’s interesting to see how it looks. Because a lot of people camp out for shoes now and fight for shoes. And it’s not worth all that.

Overall, what’s your favorite part about collecting?

I like to get different stuff too that other people don’t have. So, just to walk on campus and somebody say they like my sneakers or something like that, that’s nice.

What’s your advice to someone looking to start their own collection?

Make sure you know your research, that’s important. Know the history the sneakers and stuff and just like the culture. And pick up what you like and wear what you like. Don’t pick it up because somebody else likes it.


Kevin Jiang

Senior marketing major


What are some of the favorites in your collection?

Every shoe means a little bit. But if you ask me which one is my favorite, there’s one called [Nike SB] “Skunk” … It’s really limited, it’s a quickstrike. Quickstrike [means] it’s a really limited release. They will never restock. Senior year [of high school] I skipped school for this. I waited in line for a couple hours to get a pair of these. When I got it, it was running $150. Right now the retail is about $450.

What are some of your recent additions?

The recent one I got, it was the Jordan 11, the lows. I got it in Harrisonburg. It was because location definitely plays a huge role in the shoes. Let’s just say it’s a big city, like Northern Virginia, unless you know somebody at the store working there, it’s impossible to get a pair of shoes. Because you got to wait in line really early. Let’s say the store opens at 10 a.m. on Friday morning, people usually get there Friday like 2 a.m.  camped out [at the] store.

How would you describe the sneakerhead culture?

Before it was OK. Now I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of sneakerheads left. It’s just everybody’s trying to make money off of it. I mean, I’m not going to lie, I’m trying to make money off of it too. Because it was good back in the day, the shoes were cheap, people actually collected them just for the fun and for the hobby and stuff. Now Nike and Jordan, they turned this hobby into a business. Because think about it, how much every year they limited shoes, “Oh, 1,000 pairs. Oh, 900 pairs.” Keep going lower and lower and lower.