His last name isn't the only thing that makes Marty from "Back to the Future" so fly — just take a look at his shoes.
Nike Mags, a replica of the movie's featured sneaks, represent the core of devoted sneaker collectors' — or sneakerheads' — values: rare, unique and limited edition. Most collectors would be lucky to see a pair of these futuristic sneakers, let alone own a pair.
Typically, Mags sell between $5,000 to $10,000 based on condition, said Cody Scates, an employee for Nashville, Tenn., vendor Choice Kicks, but there are special-order versions like the Black Mags or the Iron (man) Mags that sell for much more. The place to find a pair of Mags or others like it for sale is at Sneaker Con, a national traveling event where sneaker fanatics buy, sell and trade some of the most coveted footwear in the industry. This year, Sneaker Con has already visited Houston, Miami and Chicago, and will stop in Manhattan in July.
As the conference continues to grow with thousands of attendees — mostly guys, from 13 to 30 — and is crammed with vendors, it's not hard to find exclusive kicks.
The Chicago event was dominated by Nike, but other brands made an appearance including Asics, Saucony, Adidas and Li Ning.
Bryan Torres — co-founder of online retailer Whoami? Clothing and a sneaker collector for 29 years — has worked with Sneaker Con since its first event in 2009.
To really be a sneakerologist, he said, its not just about the shoes. Individuality and self expression are the goal. "A good collector doesn't have a type of preferred shoe," Torres said. But there are a few unspoken rules depending on a collector's taste.
To pull off any look, certain socks, pants, shirts and even hats must be worn correctly. Don't ever mix brands, such as wearing Nike shorts with an Adidas shirt. The same goes for sneakers. Sawyer Beth, a 14-year-old from Wisconsin, had a pair of Nikes that he said should be worn untied, preventing strain on fabric around the laces. Mags, on the other hand, shouldn't be worn at all.
Other Sneaker Con vendors promote maintenance for shoes, like Reshoevn8r.com, a business offering sneaker care products and how-to's or Jason Markk, with his eponymous line of shoe care products.
"It's an underground kind of business and community," said Kevin Beth, Sawyer's dad. "It's not very well known, but it's very popular, and the knowledge these kids have is incredible."
The differences don't matter in a place like Sneaker Con though, everyone's there for the same reason; cool kicks.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun