For some people, shopping for sneakers is simple. Every day they can quickly go to the mall, walk into a chain of shoe stores and buy what is available.
For others, buying a new pair of shoes is a bit more complicated.
For them, scheduled releases mean they wait for the coveted shoes to drop. Sometimes draws have to be taken into account.
Custom or standard, premium or classic, colorful or neutral: sneaker prices can range from $60 to over $250. They are available at malls, specialty shops, exchanges, and especially online.
What’s the key to choosing the perfect pair this fall? Well, it depends on personal style.
Alan Dieu, a New Orleans-based shoe collector and retailer, said his style is modern streetwear with a mix of colors and patterns.
Growing up, God said he had always been interested in looking good but felt limited by his school’s uniform policy. He attended West Jefferson High School in Harvey, where students were required to wear red or white shirts with gray pants. But shoes were there choice.
At first, he said he wasn’t picky about the shoes he wore. But his perspective changed in ninth grade when he bought his first pair of Nike Air Max in navy blue and white.
“That’s when I finally got the call,” he said. “With the uniforms, I thought there was no room for self-expression. I never had confidence in myself until I realized my shoes were the problem.
Now a two-time graduate, most recently from Loyola University in New Orleans in May 2022 with a degree in mass communication, God is no longer limited by school uniforms, but says he’s still building her outfits around her shoes.
He has a collection including over 40 pairs of shoes in every color of the rainbow as well as others with unique prints and patterns, displaying them on shoe racks lining his bedroom.
‘A little bit of everything’
“I want to have a bit of everything,” he said. “Every time I wear a different shoe, I can feel like a different person.”
God said he rarely buys from physical stores anymore, as they usually only stock generic styles and colorways, the sneaker fan term for the color scheme. Instead, he prefers to buy his sneakers online through apps like Nike Snkrs, which give users access to new releases, exclusive colorways and special collaborations.
“Online I can find exactly what I think,” he said. “I also like the idea of exclusivity to have something that a lot of others won’t have.”
To purchase a pair of shoes, interested customers open the app at the scheduled release time to be entered into a raffle for the selected shoe size. After a short wait, they’ll get a “Didn’t get it” message, with a prompt asking them to try again with another size, or a “GOT ‘EM” party message, followed by a share button.
“Minutes matter,” said God. “You really have to be on top, and even then it’s always difficult to win.”
Follow the trends
God has been shopping for sneakers online for about eight years, so he’s had time to find a niche, but he said the raffle process can be tricky for first-timers.
He recommended following threads on Twitter and shoemakers on Instagram, which can help shoppers keep up to date with new releases.
“Sometimes it’s just luck,” he said. “If you like sneakers, you definitely know the app, so it’s kind of nice to be flexible when you win.”
One of God’s recent purchases was the Air Jordan 4 Military Black sneakers. The retail price for her size was $210.
“Sneakers are an integral part of my generation’s culture,” he said. “Even the shoes that have been launched in the past are a big deal.”
Stick to the basics
Although he sees the appeal of cool, limited-edition sneakers, Myles Monconduit, a rising senior at Loyola University, said he likes to stick to the basics.
“I think I have a pretty natural buying process,” he said. “Most of the time I just go to thrift stores or stores, but when I’m browsing online it’s not because I’m waiting for something specific to come out.”
At the moment, he said he has seven pairs of shoes in his rotation. They include a pair of black Converse and beige Birkenstocks. He said both work well with his laid-back 90s fashion style.
“It’s good to build your base around the basics,” he said. “There’s not too much going on, so you can pair them with a lot of outfits and get the most out of them.”
With exclusive shoes regularly selling for over $250, Monconduit said another benefit of sticking with more casual shoes is the price.
“Anything over $200 is just hard for me to figure out,” he said.
A pair of low-top black Converse is around $60 and can be found around the mall at stores like Journeys and Footlocker. The fact that other people can easily buy the same shoes as him is not a disadvantage for Monconduit. For him, shoes only complete his outfits.
“If it fits me well, then I’ll wear it,” he said. “That’s really what I’m seeing and feeling right now.
For shoppers who are torn between shopping in stores or trying out niche shoe apps, boutiques may be the sweet spot.
Shoe stores like Sneaker Politics offer “sneaker heads” the in-store experience they can’t get behind a screen, without compromising on style.
In addition to the basics, the store stocks and sells some of the most exclusive shoes, styles, and colorways that are more likely to be found online than at a regular sneaker store.
But Jalen Gray, store manager at one of the two Politics stores in the French Quarter, said shopping in a physical store has its benefits.
“Images may look different online,” Gray said. “Sometimes you buy something you like and it doesn’t look like you thought it would,” so coming to the store can help you save time and money, he added.
Buying shoes locally also ensures that they match the fashion trends of the area.
“Politics is a Southern business, so we definitely represent the Southern style,” he said. “We stick with what we know works for the people who shop with us.”
“Shoes are made to be worn”
Beyond the shoes, Gray said the environment in the shops helps improve the overall experience.
“There really are no rules,” he said. “People come all the time, whether it’s to talk about shoes, clothes, music or sports. It’s kind of just a place where you can find like-minded people and just have a go.
Whether a person chooses to shop online or in-store for their back-to-school clothes, Gray said he just wants people to use them wisely.
“I hope you don’t leave your shoes in the box,” he said. “Shoes are made to be worn.”
Alan Dieu’s Top Shoe Picks for Fall:
Jordan 1 Retro High OG
- Good high end basic
- Various colors available to match your personal style
New Balance 550
- Look good with wear; made to last
- Come out often with new colors
Myles Monconduit’s top shoe picks for fall:
- Basic shoe
- Pairs easily with almost any outfit
Those of the Air Force
- Classic; tendency
- Adapts to all aesthetics