A congregation of sneakers, streetwear and those who dare to wear them – Manila Bulletin
ICYMI: Sneakerheads reunite again for the first time in two years
By Bill Urrutia
On October 25, 2014, the first-ever Manila Sneaker Expo took place. That year, Yeezy was still at Nike, unveiling the famous and very expensive Nike Yeezy Red October. The Adidas Pure Boost has just been released. The Kobe 9 Elite High was released as Kobe Bryant was in his final two seasons in the NBA. In the Philippines, the sneaker game was in its teenage years; lines were long on sneaker releases, but at least overnight isaw lines were less prevalent.
This year, the Manila Sneaker Expo returned after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The “isaw” type lines have also made a comeback, but this time in a bigger and better venue. On April 24, the Manila Sneaker Expo 2022 filled the SMX Convention Center with sneakers, streetwear, and people from all walks of life, literally and figuratively. Upon entering the room, an influx of fashion bravado filled the room, and the attendees were all aware that they weren’t stepping on each other’s most prized possessions as all were looking down for obvious reasons.
It seems that Manila Sneaker Expo became the venue for showcasing sneakers purchased during the pandemic but never saw the sunlight due to the lockdown. If you sit on the floor, passers-by will grant you a free sneaker fashion show. You can even brand your own pair, as nearly every model from the major casual and athletic shoe brands was available for attendees to purchase. However, the average price is said to be between 8,000 and 10,000 pesos, with a pair reaching 95,000 pesos (Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 Low Dark Mocha).
With that in mind, we’ve picked our top five sneakers seen at the event.
#5 Puma MB .01 explosion red
The Puma MB.01 Red Blast is the high school phenom turned NBA star Lamelo Ball’s first signature shoe with the Puma shoe brand.
#4 Bapesta bathing a monkey
The Bapesta by A Bathing Ape was first released in 2000, paying homage to street culture while incorporating the brand’s bold design.
#3 Yeezy 350 V2 Ash Pearl
Since Kanye West (now officially named Ye) and Adidas partnered in 2013, the Yeezy 350 V2 has become the go-to sneaker for comfort and style; has established itself as the essential sneaker since its release in 2016.
#2 Jordan 1 Retro High Off White
Even before the passing of its designer Virgil Abloh in 2021, the Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White is considered one of the holy grails of sneakers given the deconstructed approach to a Jordan classic.
#1 Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October
The Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October was Kanye West’s last pair designed for Nike, which has only become more sought after since its public release in 2014.
All of these pairs seen in the event, of course, come from stockists. They are the ones who line up for hours outside retail stores only to buy and resell the pairs at a higher price. This, in turn, gave rise to the “shoe game”, ultimately sourcing limited-edition pairs and reselling them once their value rose. Given the growing number of stockists and ever-increasing prices, it will come as no surprise that buying power is a barrier to entry and may even discourage existing shoe enthusiasts from continuing to expand their collection, or otherwise. find other ways to satisfy them.
Either way, the shared passion and love for sneakers and streetwear was on full display at the event. The streetwear culture of the 90s New York hip-hop scene has become famous in the Philippines, especially in recent years. Thanks to the convenience of online shopping, social media fashion trends, celebrities, availability and growing appreciation for style, streetwear is slowly becoming the norm among those who dare to wear it.
Even though the culture is more present in the younger generation, it has definitely caught up with the more mature market. And the last Manila Sneaker Expo is proof of that. Everyone has an ounce of self-confidence, and apparently sneakers and fancy clothes help bring it out. I guess what the market should know is that the beauty and artistry of streetwear isn’t just about the price of the outfit, because an integral part of fashion wears it with a balanced amount of boldness, of character and conviction.
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