B-grades. Quickstrikes. Deadstock. How much sneaker slang do you know? Longtime sneakerheads, hypebeasts/hypebaes and first-time kicks collectors know there’s a sneaker lingo on the streets that’s very different from everyday language.
Are you looking for a rundown of sneaker terminology? At Hibbett | City Gear, we don’t just drop sneakers, we also give you all the tools to talk the talk while you — ahem — walk the walk. So the next time you’re scrolling through your TikTok feed and an influencer says he hasn’t copped anything in a while, you’ll know what he’s talking about.
The Hibbett | City Gear Kicks-tionary breaks it down, sneaker style.
Beater: Think of beaters like old cars. These are the shoes you tend to wear again and again. They may have scuffs and creases, but you love them anyway. Looking for a pair of affordable collectible shoes? While you may score a pair of well-worn beaters at a really great price, some of the more rare beaters actually hold their value fairly well.
B-grades: You know those sneakers you can find at factory outlet stores? They may have minor cosmetic imperfections caused during the manufacturing process. You might scoop up a B-grade for a steal, if that’s your thing. If you’re shopping at, say, the Nike outlet, and you see a “B” stamped on the box or the shoe’s tongue, you’re definitely looking at a B-grade.
Bred: A mashup of black and red, “Bred” is a fan favorite sneaker colorway masterminded by the Jordan Brand. This coveted colorway, one of the originals in the Air Jordan line, always sells out quickly. While seen in retro AJ releases, Nike also uses the colorway in other shoes.
Colorway: While silhouette is important, you could argue that the colorway is just as crucial to a shoe’s success. The colorway is simply the color scheme of the shoe. Jordans in a Bred colorway? Hard to beat.
Cop: Another word for acquiring or buying a new pair of sneakers. Cop or drop means take it or leave it.
Deadstock: Brand-new shoes that have never been worn. Deadstock (or DS) includes never-worn vintage shoes and new releases.
General release: A term for widely available sneakers, unlike limited releases. A men’s Air Max 98, for instance, is one of those easy-to-track-down general release, or GR, sneakers.
Grails: Much like the mythical Holy Grail, a sneaker grail is a “super hard to find but highly coveted” pair of sneakers. Examples of grails include the Nike Air Yeezy 2 SP “Red October” shoes and the Jordan 3 Retro Oregon Ducks Pit Crew.
Hyperstrikes:Very limited releases that drop really quickly. Hyperstrikes are those Nike shoes that no one knows about until right before release, and you can’t get your hands on them if you’re not in the know. In 2005, only 250 pairs of the Kidrobot x Nike Air Max 1 sneaker were released at Barney’s in New York. Today, if you’re willing to get your hands on a pair, you may have to shell out a few thousand. Another hyperstrike release was the 2006 Nike Air Force 1 “Playstation” shoe. Hyperstrike gets the HS abbreviation.
KSA – This abbreviation stands for “Kids Stand Alone,” and applies to sneakers released in kids’ sizes only
Limited Edition: Also abbreviated as LE, limited-edition releases are sought after due to their relative rarity. The shoes get produced in limited quantities, and only a handful of retailers sell them. Also called limited release sneakers. A good example of a limited edition: adidas’ Yeezy line.
NIB: Shoes that are new in the box.
OG: While it used to mean “original gangster,” these days OG simply means “original.” An OG sneaker release could mean the debut of a sneaker edition or the original release of a particular colorway. You’ll see plenty of talk about OG Jordan sneakers; re-releases are considered retros. And when it comes to celebrity sneaker success? We think it’s safe to say Michael Jordan is the real OG.
Player exclusive: Player exclusives, or PEs, are special sneaker editions given to an athlete. NBA players like Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard and others routinely sport PE kicks or colorways on the court, which get plenty of play in the press. These shoes are designed specifically for the player, not for retail.
Quickstrikes: Also abbreviated as QS, quickstrike Nike sneakers can’t be found at most of your local retail stores. There are a handful of Nike QS retailers who offer quickstrikes in very limited quantities. In 2012, the Nike AF1 Max Air VT “Camo” released at only a handful of Nike retailers.
Retro: Any re-release of an original (OG) sneaker. For instance, the OG Air Jordan 1 debuted in 1985, and its inaugural retro dropped in 1994 after Michael Jordan’s first NBA retirement. Plenty of AJ 1 Retros followed in subsequent years.
SE: SE is the abbreviation for “Special Edition” releases. Often this term refers to the first release of a shoe, such as a never before seen colorway on an already released silhouette.
Sneakerhead: If you know, you know. Sneakerheads are shoe collectors who have a passion for footwear. They watch for the latest drops and savor those nuances in sneaker editions.
VNDS: Very near deadstock is a sneaker in almost perfect condition. You may also see VVVVVNDS, which basically means excellent used condition.
Armed with your sneaker dictionary featuring all the must-know sneakerhead terms, you can boost your kicks collection with confidence. Look out for upcoming sneaker launches and exclusive new colorways at Hibbett | City Gear, both in-stores, online and on our mobile app.