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How Online Social Networks Work

Sneaker Culture Social Networks
Sneaker fans can share opinions on limited-edition shoes such as these from Nike.
Sneaker fans can share opinions on limited-edition shoes such as these from Nike.
© Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images for Nike

Sneaker culture social networks are Web sites where sneaker collectors -- a.k.a "sneakerheads" -- gather to compare collections (200 pairs isn't rare), post pics of their favorite customized "kicks" and keep posted on the newest releases from the hottest brands.

Ever since Run-DMC rapped about "My Adidas" back in 1986, sneakers have been inextricably tied to hip-hop culture. A year earlier, Nike released its first pair of Air Jordans, linking the world's best-known athlete with what would come to be the world's most coveted shoe (an original $65 pair of Air Jordan recently sold on eBay for over $2,000) [source: ']Time].

Between the cult followings that formed around Adidas and Nike in the 1980s, athletic shoes went from being practical accessories to fashion statements and even political statements. Run-DMC's lace-less white Adidas, for example, not only looked cool, but were a nod to prison culture, where laces were often confiscated [source: YouTube].

Sneakerplay is the largest and most active sneaker culture social network online. Members can create MySpace-like profile pages with embedded MP3 music files, blogs, and of course, plenty of pictures of their sneaker collections. There's even a section on the site for sneaker battles, where visitors to the site vote between two pairs of prized footwear.

Sneaker culture is fueled by an obsession with limited-edition releases and rare retro shoes. Nike keeps the craziness alive by releasing extremely limited editions that are only sold in one store, one day, and that's it.

For example, Nike manufactured just 140 pairs of its Cowboy Air Max 180s and sold them at a single store in Miami [source: Time]. People have been known to camp out for days to get their hands on these rarities. Some simply add the sought-after shoes to their collections, while others turn around and sell them online for huge profits.

On the next page, we'll talk about social networking groups for fashionistas.