I have long admired sneaker head culture and more specifically the unique individuals that propel the brands and styles to be influential across many industries and platforms. There is a certain characteristic of a sneaker head that draws you in to their life; whether it be their artistically-captured lifestyle posts that make you wish you were their friend, or the mysteriousness that is a social media influencer that takes photos only of their shoes. Thus, I was thrilled when I was recently invited into this exclusive world of collectors, influencers and straight-up ballers to photograph the annual Sole Exchange Convention at the Sheraton Hotel downtown Toronto.
The convention is a gathering of shoe fanatics alike, representing brands across the board with everything from Air Jordan to Yeezy and everything in between. Don’t ask me to name any more of them though, because I admittedly am not well-versed when it comes to this subject matter. Nonetheless, I made my way around the show learning as I went that the ‘sole’ purpose of the event is for people to trade and make offers on collectable kicks that are either unavailable in stores, custom, or vintage. This opened my eyes and ears as I walked past booths where deals were being made, and convention-goers carrying their collection in their arms hoping to make a trade. It’s not as intense as you might imagine, though – frankly the overall atmosphere was laid-back and fun and gave local businesses, sneaker heads, celebrities and creatives like myself a chance to come together and celebrate something so simple, the shoes on our feet.
So you may be wondering how I ended up at a sneaker convention if I’m not a sneaker head myself. An old friend contacted me a few weeks before hoping that I could bring the visual element to his team, and I was excited to help bring his vision to life. Tristin Kennedy is aiming to become Reebok Classics Canada’s national brand ambassador, and thus is taking the necessary steps to improving his social media content, starting with great photography and of course moments captured at his first sneaker convention appearance. While his primary focus was not to trade or purchase shoes, he wanted to make a good first impression within the sneaker community, aiming to make connections and show Reebok his commitment to the brand – and personally I think his knowledge, passion and preparation did just that.
Take a look through my coverage of the Sole Exchange event, #ViewsFromTheKicks, and feel free to share these images if you see yourself! I’d love to connect with the sneaker community, so please tag me @gwithacamera if you share any of the photos on Instagram!