WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Don’t know your ‘cop’ from your ‘drop’? Are you wearing ‘deadstock’ sneakers as ‘beaters’? Maybe you’ve always wondered ‘What are OG sneakers?’, but have been too afraid to ask your sneaker-obsessed friends. Sadly, Collins doesn’t produce a sneaker dictionary, but if it did it would look very similar to this. Time to brush up on your terminology and become fluent in sneakerhead lingo.
Sneakerhead Terms: General:
B-Grade: Sneakers with manufacturing flaws usually available at outlet stores. An easy way to get rare colorways at cheaper prices.
Beaters: The sneakers you wear on an everyday basis whatever the weather. The ones you don’t mind getting trod on in a bar or getting muddy on hikes.
Bred/Bread: Any sneaker with a black or red colorway. Originally referred to any Air Jordan in the team colors of the Chicago Bulls but now means any black/red sneaker.
Bricks: Hyped sneakers bought strictly for resale that end up not being as profitable as first predicted –– or not selling at all.
Colorway: The unique combination of colors found on a sneaker that differentiate it from other styles of the same model. Used to create nicknames such as ‘bred’.
Cop: To buy something, in this instance sneakers.
Creps: London slang for sneakers.
Deadstock: An old sneaker release that is still brand new, unworn, and factory laced.
Factory laced: When sneakers retain the characteristic lacing they leave the factory with. Seen as an indicator that they are unworn.
Fire: A sneaker that is very rare or cool.
Flip flop: The propensity for sneakerheads to change opinion on an upcoming sneaker release, where a ’drop’ turns into a ‘must cop’ last-minute.
Friends and Family: A sneaker that is so rare that it is only gifted out to the ‘friends and family’ of employees at the sneaker brand.
GOAT: An abbreviation of ‘Greatest Of All Time’. Mostly used in reference to Michael Jordan and now Kanye West.
Grails: You most sought-after sneakers that are usually hard to get, either because they’re very rare or expensive.
GR: An abbreviation of ‘general release’ –– the lowest tier of sneaker releases as they are produced in large numbers and are available at most retailers.
GS: An abbreviation of ‘grade school’ meaning sneakers designed for children that some women with small feet purchase for their lower price point and unique colorways.
Heat: A sneaker that is very rare or cool.
Hypebeast: People who don’t seem to have their own taste when it comes to sneakers –– they typically only buy what is very popular and hop from trend to trend.
Instacop: A sneaker that is so good or trending that you have to buy it immediately.
Kicks: Another word for sneakers.
BNIB/NIB/NWB: 'Brand New In Box’, ‘New In Box’ or ‘New With Box’ –– an unworn sneaker that comes with its original box.
NOS: An abbreviation of a phrase used by original sneakerheads, ‘New Old Stock’ was used to describe the discovery of unsold and unworn stock of an old sneaker release. These discoveries were usually made in family-run sportswear shops that didn’t realize the value of what they had sitting in their stockrooms.
OBO: If you see this on a sneaker reseller’s listing it means that the seller is willing to accept the listed price ‘Or Best Offer’. That could mean you might pay less for the sneaker, but it also means that a higher bidder is likely to win the shoe over you too.
OG’s: An original release in one of the colorways that a sneaker was first released in.
On ice: An unworn pair of sneakers you’re saving to wear in the future.
Pack: A curated selection of sneakers that are released as a group. E.g.
Player Edition: A sneaker designed by or for an athlete that is released to the general public.
Player Exclusive: A ‘player edition’ made exclusively for an athlete that will never be released to the general public.
Reseller: People who purchase sneakers just to sell them on and make a profit. Usually found queuing overnight for the latest drops or buying up full-size runs of stock. Sometimes have a connection at sneaker brands or stores.
Restock: When a store receives a new delivery of a previously sold-out sneaker.
Retro: A retrospective release of an old colorway. Usually the same as the original but can come with minor changes.
Sample: A prototype sneaker created by footwear designers for promotional or testing purposes that are never put into mass production.
Size run: The range of sneaker sizes a retailer has in stock. If they have sizes 6-12 then they are said to have a full size run or ‘FSR’.
Tonal: Sneakers that are one color.
Trainers: The British term for sneakers.
VNDS: ‘Very Near Deadstock’ –– a sneaker that has been tried on or worn very briefly yet still passes as deadstock.
Sneakerhead Terminology: Sneaker Anatomy
3M: A reflective material designed by the company of the same name which was initially used to help runners stay visible at night but has now become decorative.
Aglet: The plastic or metal tips found on the laces of your sneakers. Usually customized by sneaker brands.
Gum sole: Any light-brown sole.
Highs: Short for high-tops or hi-tops. Basically any sneaker that laces up above the ankle.
Icy sole: Any transparent sole. Usually has a bluish tint and yellows with age due to oxidation.
Lateral side: The side of the shoe on the outside of your foot where your little toe is.
Lows: Short for low-tops. Basically any sneaker that laces up below the ankle.
Medial side: The side of the shoe on the inside of your foot where your big toe and arch is.
Mids: Short for mid-tops. Basically any sneaker that’s in between a high-top and a low-top.
Midsoles: The part of the sole that touches your feet. Where most sole technologies like Air or Boost are found and designed to be cushioned for maximum shock absorbency.
Outsole: The part of the sole that is in contact with the ground. Made with durable rubbers and features a tread pattern for added grip.
Upper: The part of the sneaker that wraps around the foot and is stitched onto the sole unit. Traditionally made with leather or fabric but in recent times can also be knitted.
Sneakerhead Terminology: Nike
110s: London slang for the Nike Air Max 95 born from its original price tag of £110.
ACG: All Conditions Gear was Nike’s outdoor-focused subsidiary line that launched in 1989 and was lauded for its bold-colorways. Now, the line is back after being revived by Errolson Hugh of Acronym.
AF1: Nike's Air Force 1 silhouette.
Air Max: Tinker Hatfield took Nike’s revolutionary Air technology and made it visible birthing the Air Max line. Inspired by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris which has it’s exhaust ducting exposed on the outside.
COJP: An abbreviation of Concept Japan, Nike’s Japanese activation team.
Deubré: The deubré or ‘dubray’ is the official name for the lace tag use on Nike shoes most commonly the Air Force 1.
Doernbecher: Nike’s partnership with OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital which gives young patients the opportunity to design a Nike shoe from the ground up with profits generated benefitting the hospital.
Frags: Any sneaker designed in collaboration with designer and musician Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fashion label Fragment Design.
HTM: HTM denotes the first letters of the names Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker –– the godfather of Japanese streetwear, legendary Air Jordan designer, and former CEO and Nike president respectively. Collectively, HTM is the Formula 1 of footwear design, with many of their innovations pioneered slowly trickling down to consumer level.
Hyperstrike: The most limited of sneaker releases that drop without warning, sometimes just to friends and family.
Infrared: A vibrant red colorway inspired by the luminescent paint seen on automobile dials that was first showcased on the Jordan VI as worn by Michael Jordan at the 1991 NBA All-Stars game. Now most commonly associated with the Air Max 90.
Jumpman: The symbol of the Jordan brand that was first debuted on the Air Jordan III. Michael Jordan first did the ‘Jumpman’ pose for a 1984 Olympics photoshoot with LIFE magazine but was later recreated with Nike for the release of the Air Jordan I.
Js: An abbreviated name for any Air Jordan sneaker.
KD: A Nike shoe designed for basketball player Kevin Durant.
LBJ: A Nike shoe designed for basketball player Lebron James.
NRG: Nike’s most exclusive and limited product lines e.g. the home of the Air Yeezy and the Galaxy Foamposite.
NSW: Nike Sportswear is a line of products that reinvents Nike classics as lifestyle pieces.
Nike Lab: The destination for Nike’s leading innovations across physical retail, online commerce, and digital engagement. Produces limited editions of Nike’s latest performance and sport style innovations that express the intersection of sport, design, and culture.
Quickstrike: A sneaker drop that occurs without much prior warning and in very limited numbers. Usually reserved for Tier 0 accounts.
Red Octobers: Slang for the all-red Air Yeezy II’s that were supposed to drop in October 2014.
SB: Nike Skateboarding, the wildly popular skateboard-focused line that birthed the Dunk SB.
TZ: An abbreviation of Tier 0, representing Nike’s top retail accounts that carry its most exclusive sneaker releases.
Uptowns: New York slang for the Air Force 1 because of their popularity in the Bronx, New York.
White on whites: American slang for the all-white Air Force 1 Low.
Sneakerhead Terminology: Adidas
4D: Adidas’ 3D printed sole, made from a liquid that turns into a solid lattice-like structure. Designed using athlete data for maximum support and cushioning.
Boost: Released in 2013, Boost is an innovative midsole technology that offers increased energy return and maximum cushioning while remaining durable and lightweight.
Consortium: Adidas’ most creative range of footwear produced in collaboration with other brands, creatives, and retailers usually using premium materials. Another name for their Tier 0 retailers.
EQT: Adidas Equipment is a line of functional essentials designed just for athletes.
Originals: Adidas’ lifestyle range that focuses on reworking and re-releasing heritage products such as the Superstar or Gazelle.
Parley: Collaborative product produced with environmental organization ‘Parley For The Oceans’ that uses recycled plastic in a bid to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean. Performance: Designed by Adidas to help athletes achieve the ‘impossible’. Represents the pinnacle of innovation in Adidas footwear across four main categories: running, basketball, football, and training.
Spezial: Known as Adidas’ best-kept secret, Spezial is the brainchild of Three Stripes consultant Gary Aspden and is a love letter to Adidas archive pieces and its associated British subcultures. Known for one-off releases of retro Adidas sneakers.
Ultraboost: Designed using NASA technology, the Ultraboost combined two Adidas technologies – a Boost sole and a Primeknit upper – with separate lace caging.
Y-3: A collaboration between Adidas and Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto.
Yeezy: A collaboration between Adidas and Kanye West.
Sneakerhead Terminology: Vans
Anaheim Factory: Classic sneakers manufactured to match the original construction of those produced in the first Vans factory in Anaheim.
DX: A ‘deluxe’ sneaker that is usually an elevated or higher-quality take on a classic silhouette.
LX: A sneaker that is made using premium materials.
MTE: An abbreviation of Mountain Edition Footwear, Vans’ innovative weatherproof sneaker range designed to be worn in all weather conditions.
Syndicate: A division of Vans that ran from 2005-2015 that created shoes in collaboration with other brands and creatives or utilized unique, high-end materials to create new silhouettes.
Ultracush: Ultracush and its successor Comfy Cush are a lightweight and cushioned memory foam footbed designed to reduce foot injuries during skateboarding.
Ultrarange: A line of ultra-lightweight travel shoes designed to be worn by the Vans surf team as the perfect travel shoe.
Vault: Vans’ premium label, which puts a modern twist on classic silhouettes in collaboration with artists and brands from the worlds of street fashion, art, music, and extreme sports.