Like many subcultures, the world of sneaker collecting has its own lingo that may seem like a foreign language to the inexperienced. If you're new to this world, it can be intimidating. And even if you've been around for a couple of years, there may be a few terms you've never understood and have been embarrassed to ask about. We’ve compiled a glossary to help guide your way through the complex world of sneaker lingo.
If you know anything about fashion, design, or anything visual, you’re probably familiar with the term “colourway.” It’s basically the colour scheme for the given product/release. What’s different for sneakers is that the colourway is often at least as important as the actual model of the sneaker. Are this year’s “Bred” Air Jordan 1s made of significantly better material than last year’s “Black/University Red” colourway of the same model? Not really, but the colourway and extreme rarity of the Breds make them worth roughly three pairs of the Black/Red kicks on the open market.
Simply put, a “Retro” release is just a release (or re-release) of a colourway that happened after the sneaker’s initial release, particularly in the Jordan Brand world. For example, the original Air Jordan 7 dropped in 1992, but the Bordeaux colourway was re-released as a Retro (among many others) in both 2011 and last year (2015). A new model of Air Jordan comes out each year, and while roughly half of them are generally unpopular with the public and therefore unlikely to be given the Retro treatment anytime soon, any of them could see a re-release whenever Nike and Jordan felt like it.
Much like a car, a “beater” in the sneaker world is a well-worn, likely older model of shoe that probably have some significant wear and tear on them. Beaters generally don’t sell for much, unless they’re a particularly legendary model, and they’re generally sold without the original box or extra laces. Unlike most “worn” sneakers that have been kept as close to perfect as possible, beaters tend to be the shoes used for rainy days and in the gym. A “beater box” is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a box full of beaters, and they can generally provide a good budget starting point if you’re just looking to pick up some decent old kicks on the cheap.
Deadstock, often shortened to just DS, is a term used to say that a pair of sneakers has never been worn. It’s that simple. If something has been tried on or worn at all, it’s technically no longer DS. “VNDS” stands for Very Near Deadstock. “PADS” is Pass As Deadstock. “VVVVVNDS” is someone trying to be cute and saying that their sneakers have been worn but are still in good shape. For the most part, “Worn” in the sneaker world means they don’t look new anymore, but they might not be too old and beat up.
A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. For sneakerheads, grails are the same, in the sense that they're the shoes you have to have before you die. Most grails tend to be uber-rare and extremely limited sneakers but for some sneakerheads, it can be that colourway that you can wear every day and for others it's that old pair you had as a kid that you wish you would have held onto. Grails are the shoe that complete you and your sneaker collection.
You know that friend of yours that has to have every new limited release, even if it means selling the pair they just bought last week? The one that buys sneakers based on how many people on Twitter say its cool? Yep, we all have them. A Hypebeast consumes hype and reacts accordingly. Never forget, as PM Dawn once said: "Don't believe the hype because if you do it might deceive you."
A restock is simple, a retailer received more of the sneakers that recently sold out. In other words, those retros you just missed out on Friday and picked up for R5K over retail off a reseller, yeah, those are now available again for retail.
A reseller is someone who buys sneakers (usually in bulk) with the intent to sell them. Love them or hate them, they're a part of this sneaker thing and they're not going away. Some of them provide you with a chance to get OG releases that you won't find anywhere else. Others, they walk out of the sneaker store with bags loaded with a full size curve of those retros you won't be able to get, gloating and taking pics for Instagram along the way.
Originals. Not a retro, not a re-release, but the first time a shoe released is the only time a sneaker is called OG. It's like code, for original. Don't get caught and say a retro is an OG because the Twitter sneaker police will mock you, because, you know, they have nothing better to do.
The term Quickstrike and the shortened "QS" version began showing up on boxes in the early 2000s. Back then, it was a surprise release that hit the stores quickly and was in limited quantities.
Quickstrike releases are sold only at stores with specific “Quickstrike” Nike accounts. These stores have been chosen by Nike under strict guidelines including; store location, quality of store (including fittings, layouts and product placement), marketing and promotion campaigns behind the product through the store, the quality of brands that the store carries, and other footwear brands that the store stocks. Approved stores are typically very connected with sneaker culture and sneaker communities alike.