All about Sneakers in India aka Sports Shoes


The sneaker culture goes beyond the boundaries of Hip-Hop style and conventional sports, rising its way up to the stratum of luxury labels while spreading like a wildfire on the streets with equal flair.

The upper form of footwear also known as ‘sand shows’ or ‘plimsolls’ which were created in the US around 19th century has now evolved in the 21st century into a product of mind boggling variety upon which hundreds of millions of people spend tens of billions of pounds a year. What drives the sneaker head is the his- tory. While the inception of this can be credited to basketball greats like Michael Jordan and the cult obsession with Nike’s ‘Air Jordans’, this subculture was fanned by hip hop enthusiasts, skateboarders and icons like Run DMC.

The very essence of association with any sub- culture is borrowing from cultures outside of the one you grew up in. Having said that other than the emerging hip-hop scene in India what’s also brewing in parallel is an interest in sneakers. The frenzy of collecting limited edition shoes, of entering in raffles to win the latest pair of kicks, and sometimes even resorting to the dark net for a sought-after pair has caught on as a sneaker culture that is gaining ground in India.

Street style is giving this trend a push like never before. Sneakers have become a trend so colossal that even in India theyve pulled the entire fashion universe into their orbit.



In the past what were known as the emblem of utility, comfort and the stark opposite of stylish – Sneakers are now the product of desire that’s forged a global community engulfing India into it.

Every Indian teen wants to wear a sneaker be- cause what people used to consider as a dorky possession has turned to the purveyors of cool.

The Millennial Consumer

Popular culture has to be given one of the key credits for the uprising trajectory of the sneaker culture.

Indian millennials purchasing power is increasing along with access to hyper social media trends. This led to the emergence of hype-beasts, a youth-driven community constantly investing in the latest offerings of sneakers and streetwear.

From quest for vintage sneakers to obsession with cryptic Asian labels to the influence of cool-teen rappers the hype culture is evolving swiftly in various fronts all around India.

India has an adrenaline-seeking generation always on the lookout for the next big thing, contributing to the phenomenal rise of hype culture. Indian sneakerheads go to great lengths to attain their objects of desire from stalking their favourite brand collabsneakers to enrolling for raffles for Yeezy’s first drop in India, the obsession is real.

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The three big league brands which caught the attention of sneaker community in india, since the very beginning of this cult are Nike, Adidas and Puma. You may ask what these real giants of the kicks industry have to offer; its the niche skill of these historic rivals to satisfy the deepest needs and desires of sneaker freakers! Though in India, recently Puma edged past its rivals in sales to emerge as top shoe brand, with sales of Rs. 1157 crore last year, India is the only market globally where the German brand has surged ahead of giants- Nike and Adidas.

 sneaker community in india

Many sneaker enthusiasts believe the physical retail experience providing a touch and feel of a coveted shoe is unparalleled.You can find famous sports brand like Nike, Puma and Adidas retail spots all over the city but what a sneaker head truly desired is a more holistic conning experience – a one stop shop that houses all the latest releases.

The Retail & Ecommerce Stores Selling Sneaker

Retail & Ecommerce Stores Selling Sneaker

Veg NonVeg is a sneaker store which caters to exactly this need. It aims to promote the zeitgeist surrounding sneakers. The owners of this retail store are one of the biggest sneaker heads of India. Abhineet Singh is a collector and a lover of classics such as Air Jordan 1 and Nike Air Max, and Anand Ahuja prefers the newer, more innovative shoes like Nike Flyknits and Adidas Adizero Primeknits. Despite the differences, the sneaker culture binds them. The real challenge is understanding the Indian market, says Abhineet Singh.

“There are two clear segments: a market for regular sneakers, anything between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000, and an equally big market for premium sneakers, above Rs 18,000. One of the other challenges regarding price are the import duties the brands have to pay, which make some sneakers in India more expensive than in the rest of the world.”

A regular store doesn’t fit in with the ever-growing needs and demands of the freshest and newest kicks. That’s where e-commerce portals comes in play. The biggest sneaker resale online site StockX where sneakerheads think of their shoes like investments and use this site to buy, sell and track their value handles more than $2 millions in sale per day.

What has made the sneakerhead culture more diverse in India is the broader access, lower price due to anonymity of sellers and collection of sneaker a whole lot easier with social media platforms.

With online platforms from the renowned brands and sites, the tech driven world has crafted an easier interface for Indian buyers and sellers, the sneaker market is continuing grow and expand.



Treading down the narrow and winding streets of Majnu ka tilla, the colourful Tibetan flags with the soft and melodious sound of the Ti- betan prayer bells can instill a captivating sense of calmness in anyone. But in this calm- ness a sneaker head gets a blood rush gawk- ing at the big brands in small cramped shops. From Vans and Converse to latest limited edition kicks, the small shops in the bustling lanes are epitome of true witchcraft: replicating the newest shoes down to every last crease, contour and aglet.

A trip to the famous Tibetan market of Delhi can make a true sneaker head scratch his head in doubt! They are uncannily exact replicas manufactured in China according to a seller of MKT. Irony is that, China also manufactures real sneak- ers for some of the major brands like Nike, Adi- das and New Balance.

sport shoes

Even StockX agrees that around 15% of the shoes that they receive were replicas, now it is the priority of every e commerce portal to check for the fakes.

According to an interview of Indian sneaker con organiser, making out the difference between high quality replicas is extremely hard and many sneakerheads/sellers get away with it.

Hence, Ferreting out the fakes is now an art which many sneaker heads wish to learn. And it’s really important for the youth who are spend- ing their parents hard earned money on a hyped shoe.

It’s definitely a philosophical head scratcher: If you can’t tell the difference between two things, then why aren’t they the same? The philosoph- ical name for this conundrum is – the identity of indiscernible! Intriguing isn’t it? Thinking practically, if the fakes are truly identical then why drop bucket loads of money on the resale market? Do you really fear that your friends will figure out they are fake even when the CEO of StockX or Sneaker Con can’t?



The sneaker community brings together people with same interest, the obsession for shoes (sneakers). Just like any other cult sneaker heads are bound by nostalgia and stories, an inherent concept of curation.But unlike many communities that fade away fast, the sneaker industry seems to be only growing bigger. It’s about that taste of originality, classics, exclusive kicks and brands special identity that’s drawing individuals together to bond over their soles.

The gripping of diverse young Indians at their soles is the sneaker culture.

Whether it is hip-hop, street style, skate-boarders or basketballers, all these sub cultures roots are intertwined underground. Tied together firmly by their laces.

One of the sneaker enthusiasts, Nikhil Soren from NIFT, talks about his relationship with his sneakers. He mentions,

“The vast majority of sneaker heads don’t recognise the differences between Nike, Puma, Adidas and Reebok – four trainer titans. But a kicks cognoscenti like myself, for whom the sneaker is a subject of deep fascination are engaged in the subtleties of that difference. Our dedicated tribe has fuelled the sneaker’s transformation into a valuable commodity.”

But this community is beyond mere commodification. One beyond pleasure of the latest sneakers and the heady scent of fresh kicks. Now we can add sneakers to the list of music and food which transcend all the boundaries. Sneaker culture is not only uniting genders and generations but also picking up the street style (trickle up theory) and bringing together the dynamic youth across all social and regional cultures.

Welcome a new tribe – made of soles and souls.

There are infinite reasons as to why sneakers have taken over and they continue to build a powerful community of serious sneakerheads. With dedicated stores emerging and being successful, it is evident that there is a diverse sneak\er market in India. Sneakers ignite hope, inspire people, and even make you feel like you can fly but more importantly they give you an identity.

Sneaker culture is a beautiful amalgam, bound together by struggle, sweat, and spirits. The culture is made out of a piece of everyone’s mind, body, soul and most importantly soles.

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Written by Kritika Bora

Pursuing Bachelor's degree in Fashion Communication from NIFT(National institute of Fashion technology), Delhi. Simultaneously, I am exploring the world of creativity and design. My love for researching and analysing diverse topics, has aided me in efficaciously engaging and connecting with people. By adhering to the ideology of appreciating my viewer's yearnings, everyday I polish my skill of putting across innovative ideas.


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