Every sneakerhead has their own unique story on how they got into the sneaker game. For 19-year-old Alex Walter, the first sneaker that changed everything was a pair of the “Ms. Piggy” Nike SB Dunk Highs he bought from a friend. There was something about the materials and the way the colors coordinated that struck him. He has been collecting sneakers ever since.
Walter, a native of San Jose, goes by the handle @Sneakerheadinthebay, and he’s approaching 200K YouTube subscribers and 60K followers on Instagram, gaining popularity for his unique customizations and videos.
Though it’s laid back compared to a place like New York City, Walter says the Bay should be respected when it comes to sneaker culture because it’s always been a prominent sneaker destination.
“The sneaker culture out here is awesome,” he says. “I know there are places where it is hard to find people that appreciate the sneaker culture and grasp the whole concept behind it, but that’s not a problem in the Bay since the sneaker culture is highly recognized.”
Walter says the most popular shoes in his community are definitely Air Jordans. Nearly 80 percent of sneaker collections in The Bay, at least according to Walter, are completed dominated by Michael Jordan‘s signature sneakers. That percentage is what makes him stand out more than others in his hometown. He not only has Jordans but has about 218 pairs of sneakers in his stash and every one of them is stored in his bedroom on a few industrial racks.
“The hardest part for me is realizing the fact that I actually do not need all of the sneakers I have,” he says. “With that being said, I do appreciate and realize that I am very fortunate in terms of being able to afford and enjoy these sneakers that other people might not have the opportunity to enjoy. My all-time favorite sneaker has to be the Nike SB Tiffany Dunk Low but if someone asked me to showcase one shoe from my collection, I would show them my 1994 Air Jordan Bred I because the sneaker is a straight up classic.”
Despite his love for classic Nikes, Walter is adament about showing love to other brands that deserve it.
“The sneaker culture is weird at times because certain factors cause individuals to be close-minded when it comes to trying new brands,” he says. “Keeping an open mind is key in my opinion because companies such as Saucony provide some of the best materials for the best prices possible.”
Like many other popular sneakerheads, social media has been a major tool for his brand name, Walter is active on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, which is helping turn regular sneakerheads into overnight celebrities while also serving as an outlet for hype among brand releases.
“It is crazy to think about how many friends I have made in the industry and in everyday life simply because we share the same love for kicks,” Walter says.
Looking down the line, Walter has a bright future as one of the youngest influencers doing it, however, he still wants the sneaker industry to grow and be more authentic.
“I want to see companies use top notch materials like they used to,” he says. “Almost everyone knows by now that the materials today don’t compare to the materials used 15-plus years ago. I understand that companies choose to use cheaper materials in order to be more profitable, but it would be a nice change to see more sneakers with luxurious materials.”