NIGHTLINE piece on "sneakerheads" VOL...... The ship has hit the sand

Apr 15, 2004
Video is here

Cant embed laptop


Two teenage boys eye rows upon rows of sneakers, sizing each up for rarity and signs of use. One of the boys points to a pair of limited-edition Nike Yeezys and said he is buying them for a friend.

"How much is he paying for it?" asks the seller, 15-year-old Alex Asfar.

"16," the boy responds.

When they say "16," they mean $1,600.

"16, there you go," Alex said, counting the wad of cash and handing over the shoes.

These kids are called "sneakerheads" -- sneaker-obsessed teens who run an aftermarket boom of limited edition kicks, buying and selling at prices in thousands and all with their own money.

Every sneaker sale is a potential profit and Alex is a master negotiator.

"It keeps getting bigger," he says, thumbing through a stack of bills. "I can't fit it in my wallet anymore."

Another sneakerhead is Brandon Buscanera. At just 12 years old, he made $100 in one day, which he calls "good for one day's work." Now, he says, he has the cash to go buy more sneakers.

"It's a cycle -- buy, sell, trade," Brandon says. "It's kind of a hobby. .. It's more of an addition, for the love of the game."

It all started with Michael Jordan. In the '80s, when Nike convinced us Air Jordans could make us fly, having them on your feet became a status symbol. To some, the shoes were worth whatever price it took -- including murder.

In 1989, one boy was strangled for his pair of Jordans. Another kid was shot. The story hit the front page of "Sports Illustrated."

Since then, the size of the athletic shoe market has more than doubled to $21 billion a year in the United States alone, which is why Alex and his father, John Asfar, can be found leaving their house in Middletown, N.J., at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to drive to a sneaker convention an hour away in New York City. Along the way, they picked up Alex's friend and fellow sneakerhead, Brian.

When they arrive, the Alex and Brian got to work, setting up shop at a table they paid for with some friends. Soon, it was on. The two go into a flurry of negotiation tactics and bargaining, as hundreds of dollars trade hands.

It quickly becomes apparent that Alex knows this game well. He has brought a pair of glow-in-the-dark signature shoes of NBA star Lebron James that he bought for $250 and sells at the convention for $340.

But in this world of sneakerheads, a man who calls him DJ Clark Kent is the president. He owns at least 2,500 pairs, rarely wearing the same shoe twice. A legend among the sneakerheads, Kent says he got into the shoe game three decades ago. Back then, he says, kids wanted the shoes, but today kids want the glory of the sale.

"These kids today don't seem like they want the shoes, they want the thing that goes along with having the shoes," Kent says. "Somebody figured out that there's money for a pair of sneakers because of the hype."

The hype is generated by Nike, which denied "Nightline's" requests to talk about its marketing strategy. The company only makes a limited supply of prized sneakers and so when a new one is released, the frenzy ensues and the price goes up.

In recent years, the demand has gotten out of control. Kids camp out in front of shoe stores waiting to the limited editions. In some cities, riots have broken out.

Nike had to rethink its strategy to quell the violence so they now put their hottest shoes for sale online -- opening sales for the new kicks on Saturday mornings.

On one of those Saturday mornings, back at Alex's house, the teen has his eye on a pair of Nike Air Jordan 11 Lows. He gets ready by opening up a different webpage for every company that will sell the shoes -- seven in all -- in hopes of snagging just one pair.

As soon as selling starts, Alex makes his move. Within seconds, he gets an error message. The shoes are already sold out.

Alex's father, John Asfar, estimates that his son spends roughly eight hours a day thinking and talking about sneakers.

"He should spend more time with schoolwork and things like that," he says. "We could be watching a movie together. He could be doing his homework, and the phone will buzz. And he will look and it will be about sneakers. And I'm all, 'Don't you have a test tomorrow?'"

But it's not all bad. John says he has also seen where his son is learning valuable life skills.

"I've also seen where he really, really shows that he's learning something," he says. "[It] is not the deals he makes, [it is] the deals that he walks away from"

Back at the sneaker convention, Alex is armed with plenty of money and has his eye on a pair of Louis Vuitton Anthacites designed by Kanye West going for $1,075. The bartering begins, but then something seems fishy.
Apr 15, 2004
"A guy who calls himself dj clark kent".

" "These kids today don't seem like they want the shoes, they want the thing that goes along with having the shoes,"
Apr 15, 2007
Eh it wasn't the best look but it wasn't the worst.

I wish they would have interviewed some one about the legacy of the shoes or why they really love shoes. Kinda just made every "sneaker enthusiast" look like a hype beast. But definitely could have been worse
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Jun 3, 2012
I had to cringe the whole time throughout the video, clark kinda gave it minor justice, but seriously can't hate on the kid for getting his hustle on.

Shame this is what it's come to now.


Apr 25, 2013
" "These kids today don't seem like they want the shoes, they want the thing that goes along with having the shoes,"
Sums up the current state of the culture. Its why I stay away from hyped releases and go after shoes I really like. These kids out here today are too obsessed with breaking another man's neck rather than liking the shoes. Why you see the same kids flipping the shoes (or what I call renting) after wearing them once.
Kinda just made every "sneaker enthusiast" look like a hype beast.
Gotta release that most outside of the culture and even some within see it as a joke so of course the article would be written in that POV.


Apr 29, 2007
There are two of these threads on the first page so I'm guessing the one with the vid will get merged into here...

Either way it makes me realize how wrong some of our priorties are. I can't front like I didn't have a huge collection not too long ago but the older (and hoepfully) wiser I get I start to realize this is no longer a mans game. When you got 12 year olds at conventions spending money like they just got their first full time job its time to give up and get into something else...
Oct 18, 2017
Funny, was at a sneaker convention last week and this kid who probably wasn't even 15 bought a pair of BIN 5's off this guy feet for $800 I just shook my head. I have a hard time believing he'll make that money back.
Aug 25, 2007
never been to one of those sneaker conventions...

but i might have to if i can take these young dudes money that easy.
Dec 17, 2012
Never been to a sneaker convention either and I don't think I will be going to one anytime soon. I love sneakers and all, but I'll pass on that madness. I'm so glad I got a taste of the culture before the hype got real. Really wish I could've gotten into it earlier.

Here's a decent response video. 

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