Sneaker Lexicon - Sneaker Terms Easily Explained
The sneaker game is changing extremely quickly and one generation after the other is falling for this expensive 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 the 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.
Beaters are the shoes you wear daily. You love these sneakers so much that you have almost worn them “to death”. Even stains, cracks, or other blemishes do not bother you about your beaters, simply because they are so comfortable.
A 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 buy limited releases.
Breds are very popular colorways, or those that have a long tradition, and therefore have a nickname. “Bred” is short for “black & red” and is best known because of the Air Jordan 1 “Bred” – a Grail for many sneakerheads.
Collabs are the result of several parties working together on a release. Some very popular collabs in the recent past, for example, are the Off-White x Nike collabo, or the Kanye West x adidas collaboration.
The colourway describes the exact colour scheme of a shoe. The colourway often represents the nickname of a specific sneaker. A real sneakerhead knows what is meant by a “Bred” or which shoe is the “Black Cement” for example.
The question “Cop or Drop?” is usually asked when you are unsure about buying a specific sneaker. The question refers to when one should “cop” (buy) or “drop” (not buy) the shoe.
“To cop” means “to buy” a sneaker.
A custom is a sneaker that you can’t officially buy at any retailer. A “customiser” creates a unique edition of a shoe completely by hand. Customisers mostly use other colours or materials to transform a boring sneaker into an eye-catcher.
Deadstock describes shoes that are brand new and have never really been worn. A shoe usually loses its “Deadstock” status as soon as it has been tried on even just once. Obviously, this status is especially important for 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. In the context of sneakers the term “deconstructed” means to deform one or more components of a shoe, to expose cut edges or linings, and to bring in some fraying. The style should convey the impression that the sneaker is not yet finished and can immediately “fall apart”. Sometimes the shoes even consist of recycled materials. More and more fashion designers are using the deconstructed look. One of the most famous fashion icons is Virgil Abloh who creates deconstructed looks with his Off-White x Nike sneakers.
The release of a sneaker is called a “drop”.
Fakes can be found in every imaginable area, not only in the context of sneakers. They are mostly exact copies of the original shoes, which are then being marketed as authentic. 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 general release is the counterpart of a limited release. General releases are always produced in large quantities, so that as many retailers as possible can offer the shoes. Everybody who wants the sneakers should be able to get them.
A 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 very hard to get. That is why for some people, they remain a “Holy Grail”. For many sneakerheads, a “Grail” is also a shoe that they once owned 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 is a high-cut shoe, which is nowadays best known because of 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 sneakers or clothes? That friend who always goes after what is generating the biggest amount of 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 community 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. Obviously, you can only find the Jumpman logo on Jordan clothes and sneakers.
Laces are short for shoelaces. There are numerous variations like rope laces, flat laces and many more.
The launch date or release date indicates the exact date a sneaker is released.
A leak is the premature disclosure of information about a specific 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. Therefore, they are usually in high demand, especially by resellers.
Low Top describes the cut of a shoe. The Low Top is a low-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 or was released for the first time. 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 is commonly used. “On-Feet” means, in the literal sense, worn “on the feet” and it often refers to pictures of sneakers being worn.
For many sneakerheads, on-feet pictures are relevant, because shoes tend to look very different when they are being worn. Therefore, retailers and shops like to present on-feet pictures, so that buyers can get a more realistic look at the sneakers.
Quickstrike releases originate from the manufacturer Nike and are sneakers that are released shortly after they were first announced.
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 created for one specific player.
The “Pinroll” is a very popular way to roll up your pants to show off your sneakers.
A raffle is basically a giveaway. When it comes to raffles in the sneaker community, it is mostly about the winner getting the right to buy a shoe. Most of the time, retailers organise a raffle for extremely rare releases. The winners don’t get the shoe for free, they just “win” the right to buy the sneaker.
Obviously, a release is the time when sneakers are being released.
Resellers buy limited releases only with the intention of reselling them immediately for an overpriced price. Resellers are both a curse and a blessing in the sneaker community. 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 our help.
This term is 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 launched 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 originates from the Nike SNEAKRS app. A shock drop refers to a release that nobody knows about initially and just happens 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 started 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 often used as an upper material for sneakers.
Everyone knows that feeling. You think you know your own shoe size, but suddenly a new sneaker does not fit as well as it was supposed to. This happens quite frequently. Sneakerheads have even invented a special term for it. “True to Size” describes a shoe that really fits as the size suggests and you can buy without hesitation.
The upper is the upper material of a sneaker. So, anything that is not a sole is called the 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.