As a South Asian kid growing up in the States through the 80s and 90s, relating to hip hop and basketball went hand-in-hand. To the dismay of our parents, we always nagged them to get the latest pairs of shoes from our favorite sports stars. Even though some pairs were worth $200, we had to have them; they were the ultimate status symbol for us. Many fell into collecting them, while some of us were lucky enough to even wear a single pair. You don’t have to take my word for it, just ask Hasan Minaj.

The birth of the sneaker culture dates back to the 80s, when athletes made it street cool to be wearing the latest footwear from the more popular athletic apparel brands like Nike. In fact, their lifelong contract with Michael Jordan and his eponymous Air Jordan line of shoes, alongside the rise of hip hop, were the two main factors that drove the youth into collecting and wearing sneakers as status symbols.

Models: Mahmood, Troyee, Shahat
Styling: Fahad Reaz Khan
Photographs: Rony Rezaul

Some sneakerhead slangs:

“Bred” – black and red sneakers; “Crispy” – clean; “Colorway” – the combination of colours or symbols on a pair of sneakers; “Cop”(used as a verb) – as in to purchase or acquire; “Dope” – fashionable; “Fugazi” – fake; “GOAT” – greatest of all time; “Grail” – very rare sneakers, as in Holy Grail; “Hypebeast” – trendies who only buy the latest releases; “High Tops” – a shoe that rises above or on the ankle, mainly used for ankle support during sports.; “Kicks” – shoes; “Lows” – low top shoes that sit below the ankle; “OG” – original, derived from the term “original gangster”; “Steezy” – stylish; “Wild” – amazing

Models: Mahmood, Troyee, Shahat
Styling: Fahad Reaz Khan
Photographs: Rony Rezaul

Hip hop artists brought more street cred to the collection of shoes that were worn by superstars on the courts of the NBA. When you have the impressionable youth following sports stars and rappers, before the age of social media, having the latest pairs of the Air Force One shoes was a dream come true. Their popularity soared throughout the 90s, and eventually, garnered global attention by the end of the 2000s.

Now sneaker culture has grown to reach the masses, where casual to sporty kicks from leading brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma have been officially endorsed by musicians and other entertainers. We now live in a world where collaborating with a celebrity is the norm. Brands like New Balance, Reebok (Gigi Hadid) and Under Armor (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) are reaching out to celebrities from various platforms. It may only be a business to them, but for sneakerheads out there, it’s just feeding their desires to the fullest. This dream has been taken a step further by allowing consumers to customize their sneakers or other sports performance footwear.

Models: Mahmood, Troyee, Shahat
Styling: Fahad Reaz Khan
Photographs: Rony Rezaul

Sneaker Pimp hopes to bring that flavor, that same piece of the sneakerhead culture to Bangladesh. While most find it difficult to order certain foreign products, jumping through unnecessary hoops, Sneaker Pimp makes the whole procedure as simple as it can get. From their humble beginnings of taking small orders from their Instagram page (@sneakerpimp.bd) to now a fully-blown website (www.sneakerpimpbd.com), the first and only authentic sneakers boutique in Bangladesh is in full swing. Keyword: authentic.

This isn’t just about having the latest and greatest sneakers from the most popular brands, it’s about establishing our very own sneaker culture. It’s about appreciating and sharing the same passion collectors possess from all over the world. For the time being, it may seem like it’s a niche market within our borders, but you’d be surprised by all the influential figures abroad who have planted the sneaker seed into our own minds. And who better to usher this new movement than Sneaker Pimp? Strap on tight and tie those laces, folks, we’re in for a fun ride.