I’m a sneakerhead who hasn’t bought a pair of shoes in a month, and I’m not sure how I feel about it

OPINION: My recent boredom with sneaker releases has, so far, turned my 2023 into a new sneakerless new year. At least I’m saving money?

Air Jordan sneakers on display at the 2018 BET Experience Fan Fest at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for BET)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

For the first time in what feels like years, I’ve gone at least a month without buying any new shoes. I suppose, technically, that’s not true; for Christmas, I purchased multiple pairs of shoes for each of the kids and my wife got a pair of Adidas Animal Print Human Race NMDs. But I haven’t purchased a new pair of shoes for myself in at least a month. The last pair of shoes I bought for my feet were — don’t judge me — the Air Jordan 1 Low “Holiday Special.” And I’m asking for you to not judge me because a lot of sneakerheads don’t really rock with Jordan 1 lows. True story, this pair was the first I’ve ever even tried on. Let’s move on.

It’s been weird; I still spend a lot of time looking at new shoe releases, and I’m up on all of the hype shoes. For instance, I’m as surprised as you are (pretend to be surprised) that hypebeasts are really trying to make Nike Air Jordan 2s a thing, yet one of the most popular sneaker releases in the last half of the year that wasn’t the Air Jordan 1 “Lost & Found” were the Jordan 2s. Despite the hype and classic colorway of both, I wanted neither. I already have enough black and red Jordans, and frankly, I’ve never liked the 2. But even worse, I’ve been absolutely bored with Nike’s releases on any shoe. I don’t want any more Air Max 1s or Air Max 90s. Or at least I haven’t seen any colorways or collaborations that have tickled my fancy. 

In fact, the only sneaker brand whose collaborations have piqued my interest in months is New Balance. The Joe Freshgoods x New Balance 993s blue, pink and green pack has held my attention, but I’ve not truly felt like hitting the “purchase” button on any resale site. The Bodega x New Balance 9060 is an amazing work of art, from the design on the box down to the actual shoe, and yet, every time I see them in my size, I don’t feel compelled to actually purchase them. And those are shoes I genuinely like. But that’s literally been the only pair of shoes that I can think of that has had me even slightly more than invested in shelling out my hard-earned ducats. It feels weird. 

Granted, I’m saving money, which is always a good thing, and also I’m not taking up any more of the already cramped space in my home. But I like buying shoes and having an eclectic collection of shoes. I can’t tell you how many times folks have been at my house and I’ve pulled out some unique shoes and gotten a new person into the art of sneaker collecting. 

Of course, I still have plenty of shoes, so please don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’ve sold a solid 10 to 15 pairs of shoes in the past two months, and I still have hundreds to go so perhaps this break is much needed. As my wife likes to say, “how many pairs of shoes do you really need?” To nobody’s surprise, there really is no good answer to that question. 

In an odd way, I feel empowered. Sometimes when it comes to sneaker collecting, you just have to have the latest and greatest and the fact that I haven’t been compelled to buy anything means that I really only have shoes that I truly want. That’s probably not true — I’ve definitely not worn all of my shoes — but I like feeling that way. I had some moments where I was buying shoes left and right so the fact that I’m not buying shoes now lets me know that I’m not just addicted to buying things. Honestly, I don’t know what any of this means.  

What I do know is that I might try to keep this “no shoes, new year” thing going. Or, more likely, try to ONLY focus on maybe one pair of shoes a month at a maximum — which would also be a new thing for me. Wish me luck. 

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.