Being frugal isn't really a part of sneakerhead culture. There are cheap brands collectors love, like Converse Chuck Taylors, Vans Old Skools and Adidas Superstars, said Jimmy Choi, fashion marketing coordinator for the Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada. But the value of a collection lies in the number of items and their rarity.
New "collectible" sneakers are released every weekend and the typical retail price is $150. As hobbies go, it's more of an investment than stamps or Pokemon cards. But that doesn't mean a burgeoning sneakerhead has to go broke. Here are some ways sneakerheads can save money.
Figure out why you're collecting
How do you plan to use the sneakers you're collecting? What is it you value about them? If you view them as an investment or collectible, you probably shouldn't wear them at all, Choi said. "Deadstocks," the sneakerhead term for new, never-worn sneakers, almost always hold more value than worn pairs and can often gain value for resale.
But if you are collecting sneakers for their functional value as footwear and style, that changes how you treat them and the types of shoes you may want to collect.
Also, do you want the biggest collection or the one with the most rarities?
"It all depends on the person," said Alex Walter, who collects and restores sneakers and documents his hobby on his YouTube channel Sneakerhead in the Bay. "Personally, I believe it's better to have 10 pairs of sneakers in the rotation rather than one $5,000 sneaker."
Have a budget
It should go without saying, but don't let collecting sneakers take priority over paying the bills. Set a certain amount of your income aside for sneakers, Walter said. That's your sneaker budget.
"It prevents you from over-spending on items you can't necessarily afford at the moment," he said.
Look beyond retail
You can line up at stores for new releases, but you should also be on the hunt for sales. Walter looks for deals on eBay and Facebook. Outlets and online sales are also an option.
As with so many things in life, a big part of collecting sneakers is about who you know. Talk to your fellow sneakerheads and get to know sellers to get an idea of the best deals and exclusive releases. Walter gets free sneakers from companies in exchange for posts and videos. Not everyone has his following, but it shows there's value in making the right connections.
Walter has been a sneakerhead for a decade. If he were starting over, he said he would tell himself to be more patient. The ideal collection isn't built in a day, or even a year. Start slow, learn what you like and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Need to budget for your hobbies? We've got a simple spreadsheet that can help.