Sneaker Lexicon - Sneaker Terms Easily Explained
The sneaker game is changing so fast and one generation after the next is falling for this obsession. So, we thought it would make sense to explain the sneakerhead’s most important terms to newcomers as short and simple as possible. This is to ensure that you are always up to date and can have your say at the next sneakerhead meeting.
So, if you don’t want to die stupid, learn the vocabulary by heart with this following ultimate sneaker lexicon!
Aglets are the ends of shoelaces. They used to be made of simple plastic, but now aglets are made of all kinds of materials. They prevent the laces from fraying. In German, the aglet is also called “Stift”, “Benadelung”, or “Nestelspitze”.
Beaters are the shoes you wear every day. You love these shoes so much that you have worn these shoes almost “to death”. Even stains, cracks, or other blemishes do not bother you about your beater, simply because it is so comfortable.
Bot is the abbreviation for robot and refers to a computer program that automatically performs certain tasks. In the sneaker scene, bots are often used to make limited releases.
Breds are especially popular colorways, or those that have a long tradition, and therefore have a nickname. “Bred” is short for “black & red” and is best known for the Air Jordan 1 “Bred” – a Grail for many sneakerheads.
Collabos are the result of several parties working together on a release. Some very popular collabos in the recent past, for example, are the Off-White x Nike collabo, or the Kanye West x adidas collaboration.
CW, or short for colorway, describes the exact colour combination of a shoe. Often colorways also get nicknames for themselves. A real sneakerhead, for example, knows what is meant by a “Bred” or which shoe is the “Black Cement”.
The question “Cop or Drop?” is usually asked when you are unsure about buying a sneaker. The question refers to when one should “cop” (buy) or “drop” (drop/not buy) the shoe.
“To cop something” means something “to buy” or “to take something home”. Coppen is the “German” version of this word.
Custom is a product that you can’t buy anywhere else. A “customizer”, for example, comes up with a “customized” sneaker, which means it has been remoulded by hand. Customizers mostly use other colours or materials to create an eye-catcher out of a boring sneaker.
DS, or short for deadstock, describes shoes that are brand new. These are shoes that have really never seen a foot. The shoe usually loses its “Deadstock” status as soon as it has been tried on even just once. Of course, this designation or status is especially important in the resale market. This is because buyers/sellers want to know whether they are really buying a brand new shoe or one that has already been worn.
The deconstructed look has become quite a popular style in the fashion world. The term “deconstructed” means, especially for sneakers, to deform one or more components of a sneaker, to expose cut edges or linings, and to bring in some fraying. The style should give the impression that the sneaker is not yet finished and can immediately “fall apart” or sometimes consist of recycled materials. More and more fashion designers are using the deconstructed look. One of the most famous deconstructors is Virgil Abloh who creates deconstructed looks with his Off-White x Nike sneakers.
The appearance of a sneaker is called a “drop”. A well-known saying in the sneaker world is “to cop or drop”, which gives the word but a negative touch. Take a look at the description and you will see for yourself.
Fakes can be found in every imaginable area, not only in sneakers. These are mostly 1:1 cheaply copied shoes, which are then sold as originals. Sometimes, the fakes are so well-made that you can hardly distinguish them from the real ones. If you want to be sure when buying a Grail, you should first take a look at platforms like Klekt or StockX. There, all shoes are checked for authenticity before they are sold.
A GE or general release is the counterpart of a limited release. General releases are always produced in large quantities, so that as many dealers as possible can offer the shoes. Everybody who wants the sneakers should be able to get them.
The Grail is in fact the “Holy Grail” for a sneakerhead. This refers to the shoe that you want above everything else. Some people have whole lists of “Grails” that they would like to own one day. “Grails” are usually extremely limited or expensive and therefore so hard to get that for some people, they simply stay as just the “Holy Grail”. For some sneakerheads, the “Grail” is also a shoe that they once had in their childhood.
The word “heat” refers to shoes that are especially sought after and/or limited.
High Top describes the cut of a shoe. The High Top, or also known as “High Cut”, is a high-cut shoe, which is nowadays best known through the Air Jordan 1 High. In addition, there is also a “Mid Top” (or Mid Cut) and a “Low Top” (or Low Cut).
Do you happen to have this one friend who always has the latest limited sneaker releases or clothes? That friend who goes after what is generating the biggest hype right now? The one who buys what is currently the hottest topic of discussion on social networks? That’s exactly what a hypebeast is.
The Jumpman is probably the most famous logo in the sneaker and streetwear scene next to the Nike “Swoosh” and the “Trefoil” logo of adidas. The Jumpman is the silhouette of a jumping basketball player and was created by Peter Moore. Of course, you can only find the Jumpman logo on Jordan’s clothes and sneakers.
Laces are short for shoelaces. There are numerous variations like rope laces, flat laces etc.
The launch date or release date indicates the date when a sneaker is released.
A leak is a premature notification of a release. Most of the time, samples are “leaked” via social networks.
An LE or a limited edition is a release that has been produced in a limited quantity. They are, therefore, usually in high demand, especially by resellers.
Low Top describes the cut of a shoe. The Low Top, or also known as “Low Cut”, is a flat-cut shoe. Most sneakers are called “lows”. In addition, there is also a “High Top” (or High Cut) and a “Mid Top” (or Mid Cut).
OG stands for “Original”. This is a shoe that is released for the first time. Period. A common misconception is that “Retro” is also an OG. This is simply not the case.
In the sneaker world, there is an important term that may be a bit confusing for outsiders. “on-feet” means, in the literal sense, worn “on the feet”. It often refers to pictures and photos of sneakers being worn at that moment.
For many sneakerheads, on-feet pictures are relevant, because the sneakers on the feet could come across differently compared to when they are not. Retailers and shops, therefore, also present on-feet pictures at the same time, so that buyers can get a better look of the sneakers.
Quickstrike releases come from the manufacturer Nike and are sneakers that will be released shortly before the official launch.
PE is the abbreviation for “Player Exclusive”. This word describes a release that is created especially for athletes. Most of the time, this release is only available in a handful of pairs, because these shoes are just created specifically for one player.
The “Pinroll” is a very popular way to turn your pants around to show off your sneakers so perfectly.
A raffle is a kind of competition. When it comes to raffles in the sneaker scene, it is mostly about the winner getting the right to buy a shoe. Most of the time, retailers organize a raffle for extremely rare releases. The winners don’t get the shoe for free, they just “win” the right to buy the sneaker.
A release is the time when sneakers are, well, released. It is also the counterpart of a “restock”.
Resellers are exactly that—”resellers”. They buy limited releases only with the intention of reselling them directly at an overpriced price. Resellers are both a curse and a blessing in the sneaker scene. On the one hand, they make it difficult for you to get the release, because they serve as your competitors who like to use so-called “bots” to gain an advantage. On the other hand, the “hype” that they create ensures that our favorite brands continue to produce a lot of heat. After all, they earn money through us.
Nothing other than the term used for a sold-out shoe that is back in stock. This means that the retailer has virtually “refilled” their stocks.
Retros are releases of shoes that have already been sold before. Most retros come back years after the OG release.
Samples are shoes that are made as a preview of the real one. They are mostly prototypes of future releases. Nowadays, thanks to Instagram and other platforms, samples are often “leaked”, so we can have an early idea of what releases are coming soon.
The word “shock drop” actually comes from the Nike SNEAKRS app. A shock drop refers to a release that nobody knows about initially and just happen to appear in the app. Shock drops are almost always very limited shoes. With these drops, Nike also tries to fight bots (because they don’t know about the drop yet) and gives users the chance to be in the app more often.
Nike cut an EARLY ACCESS for the Air Jordan IV BRED in April 2019. With this SHOCK DROP you had to go to the last picture in the NIKE SNKRS APP and scratch the “NIKE AIR” logo with your finger. The one who did that was allowed to get the Jordan earlier.
An SR or sizerun is the indication of which sizes a retailer or manufacturer offers a shoe. Ideally, the retailer should have a “full sizerun” (i.e., all sizes) in stock.
Suede is the English term for suede. Suede is often used as an upper material for sneakers.
Everyone knows it. You think you know your own shoe size, but suddenly a new shoe does not fit quite well in your own shoe size. This happens quite frequently. Sneakerheads have even invented a special term for it. “True to Size” describes a shoe that you can buy in the right size and no discrepancies.
The upper is the upper material of a sneaker. So, anything that is not a sole is called an upper.
Unboxing means nothing more than “unpacking”. Unboxing videos are especially common on YouTube, because they give you a good first look at a product. Unboxings are very popular in the sneaker scene. This is because if you can’t own your Grail, then you should at least be allowed to look at detailed close-ups through unboxings.