What’s Your Sneaker Persona?

I remember a long time ago I was watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show (YES I watched Oprah!) and there was a woman in her audience that confessed to buying a pair of Oprah’s shoes at a charity sale. The woman stated that whenever she felt alone and needed someone to talk to she would stand in Oprah’s shoes to make herself feel better. To many people it may come across as corny or sentimental, but I could understand what this woman was talking about in a heartbeat!

Have you ever thought to yourself “why did I buy these shoes?” Why am I willing to pay some ridiculous price to wear a pair of sneakers…why?!?!? So I tried to answer this answer this question by taking a look at my collection of sneakers.

The first thing that stood out right away was the fact that I pretty much have all the Air Jordans in multiple colors…why though? Well, the simple and most honest answer is “To be like Mike”. But, then I had to really think to myself would I wear the Nike Air Kurt Rambis? Yes, I know…you are probably thinking “the Nike Air who?” and that’s my point. Air Jordans represent excellence; performance, perfection and the list can go on and on. I will be the first to admit I was never the best basketball player and had many “friends” that constantly reminded me that I wasn’t that good, but the one thing I do remember is when I stepped on the court with my Air Jordans, they didn’t have to respect me, but they KNEW good and well that they would respect the shoes!

This brings me to my point. A lot of the sneakers that we often wear have a very vivid persona attached to it and whether you like to admit it or not it is a driving force in why you may even choose to purchase the sneakers that you have. You can often look at someone’s sneakers and can tell a lot about their personality. If you really can’t make out what kind of personality they have sometimes you will just respect their shoe game solely based off of whatever they are wearing on their feet.

Now more than ever, almost every sneaker has a personality linked to it. People can say what want to, but a lot the time when you pick up these sneakers you indirectly say something about yourself. Let me give you some examples of sneakers that have very vivid personalities:

Reebok’s – S. Carter:


This was the signature sneaker that Reebok created for hip-hop icon Jay-Z. It was a very clean looking sneaker and was well received by the masses when it was released. The S. Carter was a very simple looking sneaker, but due to the fact that it represented Jay-Z it had a hint of complexity to it. Being the best MC in hip-hop holds a lot of weight and if you wanted to stand in his shoes why not just buy them?

Adidas’ Superstar (Shell Toes) – Run DMC:


When Run DMC kicked the doors open for hip-hop music to hit the commercial market they also brought hip-hop fashion. Who can forget that famous entrance scene in the “Walk This Way” music video when Run DMC was walking down the stairs in Adidas Superstars with no laces in them? After that video hit the airways people all over the world linked those sneakers with hip-hop and Run DMC. To this day regardless if people want to admit it or not those sneakers are synonymous with Run DMC, so much so that Adidas made special edition Superstars for the hip-hop group when it hit its 25th anniversary.

Nike’s Air Trainer SC – Bo Jackson:


In my opinion this was one of the best sneaker personas that I gravitated towards for more than one reason. Bo Jackson represented the super athlete during the 90s, which meant that he had to have a sneaker that could perform well for multiple sports. When Nike released the Nike Air Trainer SC it was great because you now had the chance to feel like you could perform as well as Jackson at sports with this sneaker. But, for most people like myself back in those days you were only allowed to get one pair of “good” sneakers a year as a kid and you had to pick them well…the Air Trainer SC was the best choice to make if you played every sport like myself because other sneakers would pretty much fall apart! These were without a doubt the sneaker for the super-athlete…this type of sneaker was dubbed as the “Cross-Trainer” and many different styles and types followed by Nike and other sneaker brands in the future.

Reebok’s Kamikaze – Shawn Kemp:


Shawn Kemp to this very day is known as one of the most explosive dunkers in NBA history. If you found yourself under the rim and he was coming towards you with the ball…more than likely you are now on a poster on someone’s wall with an embarrassing caption. The Reebok Kamikaze was a very rigid and edgy looking sneaker, which was a perfect fit for Shawn Kemp and his style of play. The minute that you saw this sneaker you would think of Shawn Kemp. When it was released I remember a lot of my friends bought it because they wanted to give off perception that they had game like Kemp…which they did not!

Converse’s Weapon – Earvin “Magic” Johnson & Larry Bird:



When sneakers were not being released in abundance as they are now, sometimes one sneaker did the job for multiple superstars and their personas. In the 1980s 2 of the MOST dominant players in the NBA were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Although they both had very different styles of playing the game, they both wore the same sneaker from Converse called the Weapon. The base of the sneaker was the same, but they just changed the colorway of the sneaker to represent the NBA franchise either player was playing for. So, in order to let people know whose style of play you were favoring you would get the Converse Weapons in yellow, white and purple for Magic Johnson, who represented the flashy, fast-paced style of basketball that people loved in Los Angeles. Or, you could get the black and white colorway to be like Larry Bird, who had the gritty, grimy…get the job done style of play. These sneakers may be considered to be simple compared to today’s standards and technology, but when you wore these sneakers you were making a statement about your basketball skills in those days.

As you can imagine, I could go on and on about what various sneakers represent about the people they are linked to. What I think you should take from this is you may want to really take in the reason why you like a sneaker because sometimes it may not be just because you like them. You may subconsciously be making a bold statement that you aren’t aware of yourself! There have been times I look down at some of my sneakers and think to myself “what the HELL was I thinking when I bought these?!?!?” Then I can justify the purchase based on how the sneaker makes/made me feel when I wear them. I will be the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of every Nike Air Jordan that has been released, but the bottom line is they ARE Jordans and with that being said when you put them on you know you’re making a bold statement!

So, with all that being said my question to you is what sneaker persona do you have? Which sneaker would you pick out of your vast collection to say this is me? Let the discussion begin…


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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.