Sneakers 101: The Language Behind The Culture

As you may be aware, the social media era of sneaker culture has lead to the slow development of what can often seem to be a totally different language. Allow us to bring you up to speed with sneakerhead vernacular, and elaborate as to why the language is the way it is.


If you have ever purchased shoes in the after market (from a someone who purchased at retail and is reselling) then you’ve more than likely come across this term. The current meaning of deadstock is a far cry from its original meaning. These days DS refers to a sneaker that has never been worn or tried on. In other words, shop bought condition. Originally, deadstock referred to stock that was no longer available, a shoe that had sold out was dead-stock. Variations include: Pass as Deadstock (PADS) and Very Near Deadstock (VNDS).


Beaters are an important part of life, sneakerhead or not. These are the everyday type shoe that is worn regularly. Beat refers to the physical condition of the shoe, beaters are worn with the intention of them becoming beat.


On the other end of the spectrum from Beaters we have Grails. These are the ‘holy grail’ of an individual, the object of their sneaker desires. Usually a grail is an unattainably expensive or rare model.


The rotation is a key aspect of any sneaker lovers lifestyle. These are the select few pairs that will be worn regularly on a week by week basis. Generally speaking, sneakers in the ‘rotation’ will be worn equally over the course of a week before being swapped out and cleaned.


A subset of sneakerheads, hypebeasts are known for purchasing exclusively ‘hyped up’ sneakers (usually those endorsed by a celebrity such as Kanye West). Their purchases serve the sole purpose of following ‘the hype’ so to speak. Hypebeasts are generally the recipients of much ire in the sneaker community. References in popular culture: “Hypebeasts we know about you, don’t buy shoes unless they popular” – Trinidad James in ‘All Gold Everything’


A retro release of a sneaker is a remake of an old silhouette. For example, the original Jordan 1 was released in 1985, every subsequent release has been a ‘retro’.


A colourway or (c/w) is the colour scheme/ make up of a sneaker. These colourways generally inspire the nickname by a sneaker will be known. Popular examples include the Black and Red Jordan 11, 4 and 1 which are dubbed “Breds”. Black and white colourways are typically “Oreo”.


Any sneakers that have a high market value, rarity and/or level of hype around them are considered heat.

And lastly…


An internet phenomenon which seemed to stretch throughout 2015 and become a somewhat popular turn of phrase. A shoe unfortunate enough to meet this remark will tend to be lacking a certain something in terms of aesthetic appeal.

READ NEXT: Y-3 Pure Boost ZG Knit  arrive in monochromatic colorway