Expert Advice

The Ultimate Guide to Sneaker Collecting

The Ultimate Guide to Sneaker Collecting

Jul 7, 2020

So, you want to start a sneaker collection. Maybe you vicariously live the sneaker life via sneakerhead YouTube channels like Heskicks’ page. Or you follow influencers on TikTok with their fancy closets brimming with the latest sneaker releases. Or you just love one specific sneaker model and want more.

At Hibbett | City Gear, we know a thing or two about sneaker collecting, and we’ll teach you everything you need to know about how to build a sneaker collection for yourself. Here’s a primer on starting a sneaker collection.

Throw Away the Rulebook

Plenty of sneakerheads and sneaker-focused websites sites will give you a list of rules or guidelines for building your collection. But here’s our take on it: Buy what you like. You don’t have to be a seeker of grails to create a worthy shoe collection. And if you’re not a fan of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them Yeezys, don’t sweat it. They’re not for everyone. Find the shoes you like. Don’t just collect kicks because you feel like you should have a specific pair.

Set a Goal & Start Simple

A few pairs of running shoes, some Jordans, or Air Force 1s are a great start for any budding sneakerista or sneakerhead. Focus on building a sneaker collection of styles you’ll wear again and again. Are you a massive Air Max fan and want to focus your collection there? Maybe you’re obsessed with the Air Jordan 5 and searching for as many colorways as you can get your hands on. Great! Get what you like and build from there. As you grow your sneaker collection, you can further refine your tastes.

Build Slowly

Having a sneaker collection doesn’t mean running out and blowing your budget all at once. Just like you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) buy a full set of furniture where everything matches and your room looks like a model home, you want a sneaker collection that exudes your personality and doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard.

Keep Tabs on Your Local and Online Retailers

Each month, we tease some of the most anticipated upcoming sneaker launches in our Unboxed blog. Keep tabs on your favorite store’s launch calendars, and check out some of the popular sneaker news sites for up-to-date info on exciting new colorways and limited-edition releases.

Search for Deals & Steals

Yes, sneakers can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. But don’t give in to sticker shock. There are plenty of ways to boost your collection without breaking the bank. Mix in pricier new releases with bargains. Check out outlet stores, comb social media or message boards and keep tabs on eBay. With a little time and research, you just might score a few gems. Another trick to try? Many launches are released in men’s and kids’ sizes, but not women’s. If you are looking to save a few dollars but score big on a hot launch, use our guide for properly measuring your shoe size to find what size you wear in grade-school kids’ shoes (since they often cost less than men’s releases!)

Understand the Lingo

You might know some of the basic terminology, but to become a sneakerhead, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the lingo, particularly if you’re buying or selling shoes. See the letters “JB” in a third-party retailer listing? That’s short for Jordan Brand. Tonal? A shoe that’s one color. VNDS? Very near deadstock. Check out our Kicks-tionary – A Sneaker Term Glossary for a full rundown of sneaker terminology.

Sniff Out the Fakes

Before you buy, particularly online, make sure you check for craftsmanship. While there’s a huge sneaker-selling industry, there’s also a big counterfeit industry. Check details like stitching, fonts used on a tongue tag and materials. Don’t be afraid to ask an online reseller for more up-close photos of the shoe. If you still aren’t sure whether a pair of sneakers is fake, drop a photo on social media or a message board, and the sneakerhead sleuths will help you tell the difference.

Keep ’Em Clean and Protected

You’ve invested time, money and closet space, now make sure you give your kicks a little TLC. After wearing your shoes, brush off any dirt and surface scuffs. Store those sneaks in a dark closet, away from the sunlight, to avoid yellowing.


Looking for more tips on how to build your sneaker collection?

Check out our article on how to land the latest Hibbett | City Gear launch products, and take our Sneaker Style Quiz to find out which sneaker models and brands best represent your personal tastes and style preferences.

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