A myriad of people comprise the sneaker culture at Occidental, from enthusiasts to entrepreneurs, each contributing in different ways to the worldwide sneaker obsession. While sneaker culture has been relevant for decades, Bryce Endrizzi (junior) said it has recently become a unique and rapidly growing market in itself.
“I would call myself a sneaker enthusiast,” Endrizzi said.
Endrizzi said that when a popular new shoe is released, resellers buy as many pairs as possible in order to resell them for a higher price, which causes price gouging in the resale market.
“As a buyer I’m upset because I have to pay more, but at the same time, Nike or Adidas can only make so many shoes at one time and people’s willingness to pay goes up,” Endrizzi said. “Accessibility to fashion becomes kind of skewed.”
Endrizzi said he first became interested in sneakers because of all the unique colorways, the color scheme of a shoe and styles.
“I never really had the money as a kid to splurge on a bunch of shoes, but for basketball season or Christmas my mom would get me a cool pair,” Endrizzi said.
Isabel Perez (junior) said that sneaker culture originally helped her cope with feeling isolated during high school and meet new people.
“I bounced around [high] schools a lot and the last one I went to was particularly unpleasant so I had a lot of downtime to myself,” Perez said. “But I saw this kid walking around in Off–White ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ Blazers and when I talked to him, we immediately connected.”
Perez runs the Oxy Sneaker Service (OSS), a student business that offers shoe maintenance and cleanings to Occidental’s sneaker community. Perez said she decided to learn how to clean her own sneakers after her pair of suede ‘Class of 2003’ Jordan 12s were trampled at an LA club in her first year at Occidental.
Perez said that she mostly operates OSS through Instagram and offers standard sneaker cleanings as well as hydrophobic spray treatments. According to Perez, these treatments create a seal around a shoe so that if they get stained, it is less likely to be permanent. Perez said she is also expanding into deodorizing treatments to target the athletic demographic at Occidental.
Perez said she hopes sneaker companies will crack down on bots, software used to aid in purchasing high quantities of limited sneakers. Perez said although she understands resellers need to make a living, price gouging takes opportunities away from people who actually want the shoes.
Regardless of her concerns about resale culture, Perez said she is excited about cool shoes on campus and draws inspiration from other students’ sneaker fashion.
“If the dude who wore pink Foamposites with a matching pink durag is reading this article I will treat your Foamposites for free,” Perez said.
Zachary Easum (first year) said sneakers piqued his interest as an artistic medium when a friend of his customized his own shoes, inspiring Easum to create his own.
“I thought the concept was super cool,” Easum said. “I was like, you know what, I’m gonna buy a pair of white Vans and design them with a friend of mine.”
Easum said his sneaker art business, 28 Customs, was inspired by the five years he spent living in Tokyo, Japan.
“I’m from Paris, France, but when I lived in Japan I was quite immersed in Japanese culture and I felt like adding Japanese art to my shoes would work well,” Easum said. “People started to show interest in my product and I thought wow, maybe I can make something out of this.”
Easum said his favorite shoes to design are classic white Vans. He uses waterproof canvas pens to draw on the canvas material. Easum said he uses sneakers as a medium to defy norms by creating asymmetrical pairs.
“I look at my shoes as a walking painting,” Easum said.