Sneaker Con is Comic Con for booming 'sneakerhead' culture

December 9, 2019, 12:20 PM

Sneaker Con, arguably the world’s largest and most popular sneaker convention show, was held this year at the Anaheim Convention Center where sneaker fanatics convened to buy, sell and trade the latest and rarest kicks from Air Jordans to Yeezys.

"This is the biggest event we’ve done in Southern California with more than 12,000 attendees and vendors,” Sneaker Con co-founder Yu-Ming Wu told ABC News. “2019 will be Sneaker Con’s biggest year to date with more than 125,000 attendees and vendors total.”

Since its inaugural launch in New York City in 2009, Sneaker Con has held events in over 40 cities worldwide, attended by over 1 million so-called "sneakerheads" according to a spokesperson for Sneaker Con.

"Our dream was to really gather all the sneakerheads from around the area and globe," said Wu. "It’s like a Comic Con ... like-minded people who love sneakers and treat sneakers as an art form and fashion accessory."

Market research reveals the world has a lot of sneakerheads. According to research website Statista, "in 2017, the total global sneakers market was valued at approximately 62.5 billion U.S. dollars and was forecast to reach a value of 97.8 billion U.S. dollars by 2024."

Sneaker Cons were held in Florida, Washington D.C., Texas, Canada and Australia this year. The last show of the year will be in China.

Sneaker Con is also a vast online community. The brand has 61k followers on Twitter and a whopping 3.3 million on Instagram.

A collaboration with agency and management company IMG, has helped Sneaker Con expand its global presence and to "enhance the event experience with new collaborations, talent, programming and brands," said Tim Pernetti, executive vice president, IMG Media and Events, in an interview with WWD.

Also helping to increase Sneaker Con's popularity is a technology called "LEGIT" that the event's organizers offer to authenticate sneakers on-site for free so that that buyers know they are purchasing authentic brands and not knock-offs.

PHOTO: People attend Sneaker Con in Anaheim, Calif.
People attend Sneaker Con in Anaheim, Calif.
ABC News

Aleali May, who has designed Air Jordans for both men and women, believes Sneaker Con has allowed women to collaborate on creating sneakers that women like.

“Sneakers represent so much from a person’s style to what they been through and where they are going,” May said. “The great part about Sneaker Con is that it's taking all these people and seeing that we all have something in common and that starts with our sneakers.”

"I’ve honestly seen more women at sneaker conventions or things that deal with the context of sneakers way more than ever," she explained. "I feel that it also represents what the space is looking like outside of Sneaker Con."

Sneaker influencer and vendor, Jaysee Lopez, has seen Sneaker Con drastically grow the last five years he’s attended with more brands getting involved in the action.

"I’ve never been a part of anything else that I’ve cared for that’s like this," Lopez said. "It’s really awesome to see the growth and how it’s being embraced by everyone."

"When you come to Sneaker Con, other than trading shoes and buying shoes, it's really about having that community atmosphere here,” Wu said. "It’s a community in real life like any other community, this is for people who love sneakers."

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