The world is full of irony and nothing is more ironic in the sneaker world than the breakout of violence during sneaker queues at the release of the Pharrell x adidas NMD “Human Race” shoes.
The concept behind the “Human Race” was for sneakers to act as a common thread, uniting people from all walks of life to better understand each other. At the release of the “Hu”, the official statement revealed the intentions behind the series: to explore humanity and celebrate diversity around the world.
This peace-loving, love-promoting series of sneakers were intended to unite, rather than divide, and yet from recent drops, these kicks seem to be causing more harm – physical, mind you – than good.
Last November, two cases of violence were made public on social media during the release of the Pharrell x adidas NMD Hu Trail – one in New York and the other in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Both fights were similar in nature, breaking out because alternative queues were being formed, depriving deserving sneakerheads of their chance of copping the pair.
The Kuala Lumpur case infamously involved an unofficial “name list”, a book that kept track of queueing positions, allowing others to come at a later time. This name list was not mandated by adidas.
Earlier today, murmurs about a fight at adidas Originals Pacific Plaza in Singapore circled amongst sneakerheads. Soon after, video footage of that fight made rounds on social media. The drop: Pharrell x adidas Hu “Blank Canvas” Collection.
Tension during sneaker queues is unsurprising, given that most of these sneakerheads would have been lining up overnight or for days, deprived of a bed and a decent toilet, mostly filled with anxiety of being able to cop their grails.
While sneakerheads aren’t blameless when fights break out, this is a call out to retailers and labels to reinvent how sneaker releases are held. Long overnight queues are great for hype but if fights become commonplace in today’s sneaker world, we might be losing way more than we think.
These sneaker-related fights are by no means isolated to just the “Human Race” pairs, but it serves as a strong reminder about the purpose and meaning of these shoes in the first place. This rings truer now more than ever as more young people enter the sneaker community and culture, and it is our responsibility to ensure a safe space for them to express their love for sneakers. Our shared passion for sneakers should bind us more than it divides, but until the day we unsubscribe to the need to “one-up” the next sneakerhead, this will never change.
We need to check ourselves, before we wreck ourselves. Pronto.