Sneaker Vocabulary 101: Understanding the Terms of Sneaker Culture

Sneakers are more than just shoes; they’re like a secret language that tells stories. Picture yourself in a sneaker shop, surrounded by people chatting about “colorways” and “OGs.” It might seem confusing at first, but don’t worry; we’re here to help you understand.

In this article, we’ll explain all the sneaker words so you can talk about shoes like a pro. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be able to join conversations about sneakers with confidence, knowing exactly what people are talking about. So, let’s uncover the secrets of sneaker culture together!

A-C

Aglet: The small plastic or metal tip at the end of a shoelace that makes it easier to thread through the eyelets of a shoe.

AIO: Short for “All-In-One,” it refers to a sneaker release that includes all the necessary accessories or packaging in one package, often including extra laces, special packaging, or other accessories.

B-Grade: Refers to sneakers that have minor flaws or imperfections that prevent them from being sold as “A-Grade” or in perfect condition. These imperfections can range from small cosmetic issues to minor manufacturing defects.

BNIB: An abbreviation for “Brand New In Box,” indicating that the sneakers are in brand new condition and come with their original packaging.

BTEC: A slang term used in sneaker culture to refer to resellers who are inexperienced or new to the practice. It is often used to describe rookies or beginners in the reselling community.

Beaters: Sneakers worn frequently and showing signs of heavy use or wear. These are often considered everyday shoes and are not pristine like collector’s items.

Bricks: Refer to sneakers that sit on shelves for long without selling, usually due to a lack of popularity or overproduction. These sneakers can become “brick-like” in value, meaning they are difficult to sell and may eventually be heavily discounted.

Colourway: Refers to the specific combination of colours used on a sneaker design. Sneaker colourways can be unique to a particular release or a variation of existing colour combinations.

Cop: A slang that means buying or acquiring a pair of sneakers, often used in the context of successfully purchasing a highly desired or limited-release sneaker.

D-F

Dubrae: A decorative metal or plastic ornament often found on the sneakers’ laces, used for added style or branding. It can also serve a functional purpose by helping to keep the laces in place.

DS: Short for “Deadstock,” a term used to describe brand new sneakers that have never been worn or used. These sneakers are often in their original packaging and have not been tampered with.

F&F: Stands for “Friends and Family,” referring to exclusive sneaker releases only available to a select group of people, such as friends, family members, or influencers associated with the brand.

Factory Lacing: Refers to sneakers laced in the same way they were when they left the factory. This term often describes sneakers sold as brand new and untouched by previous owners.

Flaking: A term used in sneaker culture to describe a buyer who agrees on a price for a sneaker deal but then backs out at the last minute, often leaving the seller disappointed or frustrated.

Fufu: A slang term for fake or counterfeit sneakers. It’s used to describe sneakers that are not authentic and may resemble popular brands or models but are produced illegally and of lower quality.

FSR: An abbreviation for “Full Size Run,” indicating that all sizes of a particular sneaker are available for purchase. This term is often used in online sneaker releases to indicate that the sneaker is not limited to specific sizes.

G-L

GOAT: Acronym for “Greatest of All Time.” In sneaker culture, this term describes a sneaker that is considered better than any other, often due to its design, innovation, or cultural significance.

GR: short for “general release,” referring to sneakers widely available to the public and not limited in quantity. These sneakers are typically produced in larger quantities and are easier to obtain than limited-edition releases.

Holy Grail: Refers to a sneaker that an individual has been coveting for an extended period, often for many years. It is the ultimate desired sneaker that holds immense sentimental value or significance to the individual, even if they may never be able to acquire it.

Hypebeast: A term used to describe someone who follows fashion trends, particularly in streetwear and sneakers, often by wearing highly sought-after or hyped-up items to show off their knowledge of current trends and brands.

Insole: The interior part of a shoe where the foot rests, often made of cushioned material to provide comfort and support.

ID: An abbreviation for “NikeiD” or “Nike By You,” a customisation service offered by Nike that allows customers to design and personalise their sneakers by choosing colours, materials, and other customizable options.

Instacop: A slang term used to describe the quick and immediate purchase of a desired sneaker, often done as soon as the sneaker becomes available for sale online or in stores.

Js: A slang term for Air Jordan sneakers, a popular line of basketball shoes produced by Nike in collaboration with Michael Jordan.

Jumpman: The logo used by the Air Jordan brand features the silhouette of Michael Jordan jumping to dunk a basketball.

LC: An abbreviation for “Legit Check,” referring to the process of authenticating or verifying the authenticity of a sneaker to ensure it is not counterfeit or fake.

LE: Short for “Limited Edition,” indicating that a sneaker release is produced in limited quantities, often adding to its exclusivity and desirability among collectors and enthusiasts.

LPU: An abbreviation for “Latest Pick-Up,” is used to showcase or share the most recent sneaker acquisition or purchase made by an individual within the sneaker community.

M-P

Midsole: The layer of material located between the outsole (bottom of the shoe) and the upper (top part of the shoe). The midsole is typically made of cushioning materials such as EVA foam or polyurethane and provides support and shock absorption.

NWT: An abbreviation for “New With Tags,” indicating that a sneaker is brand new and still has its original tags attached, typically referring to deadstock sneakers that have never been worn.

OBO: Stands for “Or Best Offer,” indicating that the seller is willing to consider offers from potential buyers and may be open to negotiating the price of the sneaker.

OG: Short for “Original,” used to describe a sneaker that is in its original form or version, often referring to the first release or iteration of a particular model.

Outsole: The bottom part of the shoe that comes into contact with the ground. The outsole is typically made of durable rubber or other materials designed to provide traction and grip.

PE: Stands for “Player Exclusive,” referring to sneakers that are designed specifically for professional athletes or teams. These sneakers are often customised with unique colours, logos, or features and are not available for retail purchase.

Proxy: Refers to a person or service that assists with purchasing sneakers on behalf of someone else, typically to acquire limited-release sneakers or to bypass geographical restrictions on purchasing. 

R-S

Reseller: A person or entity that buys sneakers with the intention of selling them for profit, often acquiring limited-edition or highly sought-after releases to resell at a higher price.

Restock: When a sneaker that was previously sold out becomes available for purchase again, typically due to additional production or returned stock,.

Retro: Refers to a re-release of a previously popular sneaker model, often with minor updates or modifications. Retro releases allow sneaker enthusiasts to purchase classic designs that may no longer be available in their original form.

Sample: A prototype or early version of a sneaker design that is produced for testing or evaluation purposes. Samples are often produced in limited quantities and may feature differences from the final retail version.

SB: Short for “Skateboarding,” referring to a line of Nike sneakers designed specifically for skateboarding, known for their durable construction and performance features.

SE: An abbreviation for “Special Edition,” used to describe sneakers that are released in limited quantities or feature unique designs or collaborations.

Silhouette: Refers to the overall shape or outline of a sneaker when viewed from the side. Silhouette is an essential aspect of sneaker design and can vary widely between different models and brands.

Sneaker bot: A software programme or automated tool that increases the chances of purchasing limited-release sneakers online. Sneaker bots are designed to complete the checkout process faster than manual methods, often giving users an advantage in securing highly coveted releases.

Sneakerhead: A person who is passionate about sneakers and collects them as a hobby. Sneakerheads often have extensive knowledge about sneaker culture, brands, releases, and trends.

SP stands for “Special Project” or “Special Packaging.” It is used to describe limited-release sneaker collaborations or editions that feature unique packaging or presentation.

T-Z

Toebox: The front portion of a sneaker where the toes are located. The toebox can vary in shape, material, and design depending on the specific sneaker model.

TTS: An abbreviation for “True to Size,” indicating that a sneaker fits as expected and is worn comfortably in the size the individual typically wears.

Upper: The upper part of a sneaker that covers the foot is typically made of various materials, such as leather, mesh, or synthetic materials. The upper may feature overlays, stitching, or other design elements for aesthetics and support.

VNDS: An abbreviation for “Very Near Deadstock,” used to describe sneakers that are in excellent condition with minimal signs of wear, almost indistinguishable from new or deadstock sneakers.

W/WMNS: Stands for “With Women’s,” indicating that the sneaker model or release is available in women’s sizing or designed explicitly for women.

WTB, WTS, and WTT: Abbreviations used in online sneaker communities and marketplaces. “WTB” stands for “Want to Buy,” indicating that the person is looking to purchase a specific sneaker. “WTS” stands for “Want to Sell,” meaning the person wants to sell a particular sneaker. “WTT” stands for “Want to Trade,” indicating that the person is looking to trade one sneaker for another.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our guide to Sneaker Vocabulary 101, it’s essential to recognise that sneakers are more than just fashion statements; they’re a cultural phenomenon that transcends generations and geographical boundaries. The language we’ve delved into serves as a bridge, connecting enthusiasts worldwide and fostering a shared understanding of the stories embedded in each pair of shoes. So, as you step into the world of sneakers armed with your newfound lexicon, remember that it’s not just about shoes; it’s about the stories they tell, the communities they build, and the diverse voices that contribute to the ever-evolving narrative of sneaker culture.

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