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Duk-ki Yu, owner of Major, a sneaker store in Georgetown, has been in the shoe game for a minute now. After 20 years of lusting after the contours of various well-designed soles, his personal “stash” of kicks includes thousands. He’s had to move his sprawling collection (worth somewhere around $100,000, he guesses) into storage to keep his marriage happy. He’s also a “Nike influencer,” part of a small cadre of people the company calls on when it wants to “move the needle” on what’s popular among “sneakerheads”—-devotees of footgear. Yu’s obsession means he’s looking forward to this weekend, when Sneaker Con, a convention for shoe nerds, hits the Atlas Performing Arts Center. He’ll get to talk and party. He just wishes the bulk of his fellow District shoe lovers weren’t such “conformists.”
It’s a gripe D.C. has heard before: The city skews toward the conservative when it comes to fashion. It’s just a surprise that its burgeoning (this is only the New York-based Sneaker Con’s second time here) sneaker culture, a close ally of hip-hop, might be uptight. “D.C. by and large has a me-too market,” Yu says. Instead of going for more unique shoes, D.C. buyers go for Foamposites, Deions and Griffys, anything that’s ’90’s basketball-influenced.
“There are so many people that think they’re in the sneaker game, but in all reality there’s a few individuals out here that really appreciate [sneaker culture] and reciprocate by buying into new stuff,” Yu says. “Meanwhile the rest of the community is still like, they say they’re into sneakers, but really they’re just buying into what somebody else is into.”
Sneaker Con runs from noon to 7 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.
Photo courtesy Sneaker Con