In elementary school, Yuhong Su’s father bought him his first pair of sneakers — a pair of Zoom Kobe 5 “Lakers Away,” designed for his favourite basketball player Kobe Bryant. What cost US$200 then now sells for US$882 on the resale market.
The value of the sneakers is greater for Su. “I was playing a lot of basketball when my father bought me those sneakers, and I thought, ‘I can win all the time when I have them on,” said Su to News@Northeastern. “I wish I still had them.”
Little did he know that months later, he would be sharing the stage with three leaders in the sneaker community: Jarick Walker, who worked with brands like Nike and the NFL; Dr. T, who reviews sneakers on his Youtube channel; and Javon Martin, an Associate Product Merchandiser at Converse.
For the business administration and design major, it was a dream come true. He finally had the chance to engage, uplift, and motivate a community who understood the difference between a “General Release” and a “Limited Release.”
As Su begins his final year at Northeastern University, we caught up with him to discover how he turned his passion into a campus club:
What enticed you into the sneaker culture in America?
I would say basketball. Growing up, I watched Kobe Bryant play, so it was heartbreaking to know that he and his daughter died in 2020. From that moment, I told myself I would never sell any of my Kobe collection.
As a sneakerhead, I was fascinated by the idea of collecting sneakers. You could not only wear these beautiful pieces or admire their design. Sneakers were also a huge fashion statement in basketball, so I naturally wanted to learn more about these beautiful products.
How has your hobby for sneakers helped you as an international student?
The beauty of collecting sneakers is that you don’t have to share every photo you took of your sneaker. Personally, it feels like therapy. Whenever I was upset or angry, I could channel those emotions through staring at my collection.
I would also keep every single receipt of my purchase. It’s a neat habit as I can tell the exact price and day I acquired a specific pair — which will be handy when I pull a random pair out of the hundreds of sneakers I bought.
What inspired you to form the Huskick’s Sneakers Club?
When I first came to Northeastern, I was trying to find a club I was interested in and searched for a sneakers club. There was none. From then on, I had a new goal on my bucket list: establishing a sneakers club before graduating.
If you scroll through social media, it’s clear that there is demand for sneakers as athletes, movie stars, TV hosts, and Youtubers wear them. It was only a matter of time before someone established a club aligned with that interest on campus.
As to how the club came about, it was a late-night inspiration. Upon pondering on forming the club, I decided to go for it. I did all the paperwork, negotiated with the centre of student involvement, and drafted our club’s constitution. I managed to recruit some friends to join the club to fulfil the headcount. Eventually, we got the club fully recognised.
What was one memorable project you worked on?
It has to be the Husky Sneaker Summit. For starters, it was the first event hosted by the club. I invited three friends (Jarick Walker, Dr.T, and Javon Martin) within the sneakerhead community to host this event. We booked a room on campus where people could listen to them sharing their sneaker stories or see their collections.
One was a former Nike veteran, one works for Converse, and the other is a YouTuber from Seattle who unboxes sneakers. Given the success of our first hybrid event, we plan to improve and execute a better event this upcoming Fall, so stay tuned.
You can watch the recording of the summit here:
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What does the future of Huskick’s Sneakers Club look like?
In our constitution, we showed our commitment to being a club for the community at Northeastern — which includes sneakerheads and those who have no interest in sneakers. We strive to be a community where you can meet new friends, learn more about sneakers, and discover more about the sports and entertainment industry.
We also want to utilise content on our social media and events created directly by our board members to bring students together through sneakers. I hope they can share some of their exciting stories with us, as I believe every pair of sneakers has a story to tell.
Do you feel that there are stigmas towards this culture? Should this culture be normalised?
Normalising a special interest like sneakers is still very difficult. There are a few reasons. Passion aside, let’s be realistic. It is an expensive hobby and it’s not easy to get limited releases.
If you walk into a Nike store and buy a pair of “Air Force Ones,” those are general releases. As collectors, we tend to aim for more limited releases. Hence, the scarcity and hefty price tag keep many people out of the gates of this game.
Again, a crucial point of collecting sneakers is to have that scarcity – to chase the latest limited release. That’s why this hobby is unique and I believe it is one of those special interests that are not meant to be normalised on a mass scale.
Do you have any advice for students who want to build a community surrounding their passion?
Be true to yourself. You got to ask yourself: how bad do you want it? If you’re not passionate about your cause, it’ll be difficult for you to move others.
After that, just get started. We don’t know what would happen if I chose to watch TV or a movie instead of drafting those questions that night.
In the end, it boils down to five things. We can only control three out of these five elements. The three things we can control are hard work, perseverance, and how bad we want it. You work with integrity and create something that people can trust. Once you have these, it’s about grabbing the opportunity at the right time.