Metro Vancouver Sneakerheads and Their Trading Practices

My MA Master's research, through Simon Fraser University's Department of Sociology & Anthropology, seeks to understand how Metro Vancouver young (15-25 years old) sneaker enthusiasts, also known as “sneakerheads,” participate in creating regimes of value around shoes. Through this ethnographic study, I seek to understand how sneakerheads ascertain the value of particular pairs of sneakers in the resell market. Through this research, I ask how a presumably mundane clothing item, as sneakers, becomes the object of fantasy and enchantment among an active community of consumers.

I do this by following trends in streetwear and in sneaker culture through multiple online platforms to contextualize ethnographic data gathered on consumption habits and taste of Metro Vancouver sneaker enthusiasts. Observed and engaged with members of the Metro Vancouver sneaker reselling community through virtual and in-person participant-observation, such as buy and sell Facebook groups and sneaker conventions.

Check out a Q & A on my research:

What grads do: The fascinating culture and economy of sneakers, The Peak, October 20, 2018

Research Questions

Sneaker consumption and trade is an ideal site to examine the relationship between affect and value. My research will be guided by the following questions:

  1. Which people are attracted to sneaker consumption in Metro Vancouver?

  2. What are the practices of sneaker consumption in Metro Vancouver?

  3. How do sneakers become coveted objects for sneakerheads?

  4. Why are certain are sneakers highly valued as desirable objects?

  5. What processes are involved and who are the agents that determine the resale value of a pair of sneakers?

  6. Where are the virtual and physical places where sneaker reselling happen? What are the place specific practices?

Through my thesis research I…

  • Independently designed a thesis project using the most appropriate theoretical and methodological tools, and qualitative research methods.

  • Conducted over a dozen semi-structured interviews ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours with key research informants and sneaker retailers from the Metro Vancouver sneaker reselling community.

  • Established presence as a researcher in the community, and fostered strong connections with numerous influential sneaker resellers, retailers, and collectors in the Metro Vancouver.

  • Presented on research as an invited guest lecturer in undergraduate sociology classes and as a finalist competitor in Simon Fraser University's 2018 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.

  • Conference paper on research findings was presented at the 5th Global Conference on Economic Geography in Cologne, Germany in July 2018.

I was a finalist competitor in Simon Fraser University's Three Minute thesis (3MT) Competition. This is my presentation on "Sneakerheads and Their Practices of Trading" at The Presentation Studio at SFU's Big Data Hub | March, 2018.