HYPEBEASTS, the ultimate nemesis of a true sneakerhead. The very word angers even the most average sneakerhead into action (which mostly just consists of trolling on blogs and on twitter). We’ve all heard of the term “hypebeast” but what or who are they exactly? Me myself, I’ve grown tired of the word. I kind of feel like the term is thrown around mindlessly as much as the word “hater” (another word I’ve grown extremely tired of). It’s one of those words people loosely throw around as their “go to” comeback to attack someone else who’s said or done something they don’t like. And almost all of the time when you actually think about the situation and how the word was applied it never fits.
For example: If I saw someone and said “Hey your shirt sucks”. I’m not hating. I’m not jealous of you and your shirt. I don’t want your shirt. Why? Because it genuinely sucks. I cannot be anymore blatantly, redundantly clearer than that. Hey here’s a thought, your shirt might just actually suck and I’m pointing it out in hopes of saving you from future ridicule from someone like me. You know, a “hater”. Anyway, my point is that even though hypebeast do exist and annoy every fiber of my being as a sneakerhead, the term gets thrown around too arbitrarily. I even have to stop and ask myself, “Why am I so angry at them?”
So what exactly is a hypebeast? Here’s my definition: “A person who has no genuine love of a sneaker or its culture but knows the value, social or monetary, it holds and creates hysteria around a particular sneaker, based on superficial details, in an effort to bolster their own stature or to increase the resell value of a shoe they plan to buy then immediately resell”. Yep, that about sums it up.
Now let’s be honest, we all buy sneakers for some type of social status. Yes we love the shoe but we’d be lying if we didn’t acknowledge the looks that we know we’re going to get when we rock whichever shoe for the first time. Me personally I’m 80/20 (80% love and 20% hype + social status). It’s like a girl with a nice body and tight jeans, you know you’re catching everybody’s eye when you step foot into that mall. But for the hypebeast it’s all show. They don’t know the proper name of the shoe they’re wearing half the time. “Check out my Air Jor-Dans”. No. Homie, it’s pronounced Air Jordan. You don’t have to condescendingly over enunciate that second syllable to let everyone know that your kicks are top notch. Don’t be a douche.
It’s because of hypebeasts that you can’t walk into a store and buy your favorite shoe when just a few years ago you could. Hypebeast are also somewhat responsible for the inflated resell prices, not to mention the influx of people who now see this as their new hustle. People who know nothing about the shoe, other than that it’s valuable, come every Saturday to buy a pair, while in the process depriving a true sneakerhead from obtaining said shoe, only to go straight home and sell it on eBay at 150% its retail price (I’m especially talking to the lady who was in front of me when the “Flint Grey” Air Jordan 13 dropped a couple years ago. She was in line supposedly waiting to get a pair for her “son” and got the last size 15 shoe in the store and as soon as she got the receipt in her hand started celebrating the fact that she was going to be able to pay her bills that week. And if that wasn’t insult enough she immediately walked up to me to try to sell them for $300. When I reminded her that she had bought those shoes for her son she looked at me and said “What son?” I almost fought a woman that day). Basically hypebeast have the potential to take our love of sneakers and turn it into something dangerous; a fad.
Now here’s where the line that separates sneakerhead from hypebeast gets blurry. Truth be told we benefit from each other. It’s like we’re mirror opposites. We’re Superman they’re Bizzaro. We’re Jaleel White and they’re Steve Urkel. We’re Garth Brooks they’re Chris Gaines (damn, even I feel bad for that last one). In an indirect way we as sneakerheads have created hypebeasts. We’ve told and shown them how cool sneakers are. We’ve told and show them how glorious the lifestyle can be. They see the social benefits because they see how we’ve made the sneakers into status symbols. Do I apologize for that? No. Why? That’s like apologizing for looking beautiful. Do I feel bad that your girl is staring at me and not at you? Yes. Do I blame her? No. But just like being beautiful is a gift and a curse so is the relationship between sneakerhead and hypebeast.
There are pros and cons to everything. I don’t begrudge a hypebeast for loving the shoe and the culture, they got that love from us. I guess the real difference is that they love for the wrong reasons. They love a shoe because everyone else loves the shoe. I love the shoe because I love the shoe. See the difference? They’ll only buy an Air Jordan 1 if it has the Nike Air tag. I’ll buy it if it looks dope with or without the Nike Air tag (in all honesty though I do prefer the Nike Air tag. I’m just saying….). That’s why you’ll see them playing basketball in them the very next weekend or selling them that same day. They’ve gotten or will get what they wanted out of that shoe. To fit in, to look cool that week, to flip them. Who knows? But it benefits us as sneakerheads because it adds value to our collections we’ve already built up. And even though hype is nothing solid to build upon, because it fades much more quickly than it takes to build it up, it also can serve as a beacon, attracting others when it reaches its peak. Hypebeast serve a purpose. They’re like spiders, although annoying they do serve a greater purpose (I live near water and we get fish flies every summer and around that time me and my wife thank God for spiders. And as soon as they’re gone we go right back to hunting them down one by one). When you break it down what divides us is our own collective perception.
Think about it. Aren’t we both just two sides of the same coin? One needing the other to fully survive. As I said before, think of hypebeasts as spiders. Can’t stand them but they serve a purpose. So I can’t be too mad at them. You just learn to tolerate them. Pretty soon they’ll go away just like all fads do, leaving the culture for us alone to maintain. They are us, looking to be cool and fashionable in all the wrong ways. In fact, if you know or see a hypebeast give them a hug. You know what I’m going to start a twitter campaign called #HugAhypebeast. For far too long we’ve shunned them, casting them to the outskirts of our sneaker culture. Let’s show them some love and bring them back into the fold. If you know a hypebeast either comment below or go on twitter and state their name followed by the hashtag #HugAhypebeast. Make sure to also add my twitter handle @AfrikanCaesar as well as @SBDetroit to your tweet. Because at the end of the day hypebeast are people too. Two sides, same coin. So come on, hug a hypebeast.