How to buy sneakers in 2019

Politics of the Sneaker Pimps - The difficult task of buying a pair of limited sneakers made easier. - June 22, 2019
By stereotopia

Buying a limited/exclusive/collaboration pair of sneakers has never been straightforward. In recent years, the explosion in social media platforms like Instagram has seen sneaker culture reach people it never would have before. Demand is higher than ever. Quantities are still limited. How exactly do you get your hands on a pair? This article aims to make that process a little bit easier to understand so you don’t miss that coveted drop.

What you will need
  • An Instagram account - Some retailers only allow you to enter raffles using social media (mostly Instagram today), so make sure you have an account. Instagram is also a great way to stay informed on upcoming releases. A Twitter account helps too.
  • Credit/Debit Card - Cash rules.
  • Paypal Account - While a credit card is usually enough, it isn’t uncommon for certain retailers’ payment gateways to buckle under demand. Paypal can sometimes help to bypass this, not to mention it’s quicker than re-entering long card numbers should something go wrong at the checkout.
  • Android / iOS device - APPS! So in the past few years, a lot more releases are exclusive to a particular app - Nike Sneakrs, Adidas, SNS, Frenzy, Size? Previews etc. The more entries you have, the higher the chance of success.
  • Patience - Things won’t always go smoothly, sometimes you may not get the coveted W. Keep trying, stay tuned to social media for stock updates. If it doesn’t go to plan, just remember it’s only a shoe. You can always pay resale prices if it stings too much.
  • Google Chrome - Google Chrome’s Autofill option is a lifesaver when buying from websites in a rush. If you trust chrome with your data, you can also store your card details so the only thing you need on drop day is your CV2.
The Process

Now let’s move on to the actual process of purchasing the sneakers. The first thing to determine is the stockists; where can you buy it? This is best done a week before release, that’s usually when raffles will start opening up. Thankfully, you shouldn’t have to google too much. There are already great websites out there that tell you when and where things are releasing. A few of my go-to’s are Solelinks, Sole Supplier and @sneakernews. Next, determine the release method and quantities. This information isn’t always out there. However, all is not lost thanks to certain social media accounts (what we tend to call sneaker leakers) and websites (Highsnobiety / Hypebeast / sole collector). So be sure to check and search these resources as the release draws closer. Hopefully, you’ll now be aware of where the pair you want will be dropping. Make a note of dates and times, set alarms (seriously) and have your payment information to hand. Measure hype. Now I wanted to avoid this topic but it’s honestly impossible in the sneaker space. You should be aware of how desired a shoe is before it comes out. If something is universally loved, it’s going to be hard to get. Read comment sections on posts about the shoes and you should get an idea on how “hyped” they are. If you aren’t seeing much coverage they should be an easy purchase. Here are few more pro tips:

  • Check your city - Instore drops can sometimes be easier online! Especially if you’re in a smaller town with a decent sneaker store. Go in, ask about the release. Larger Chains can be surprising too so don’t be afraid to check out your local Foot Locker.

  • Follow the leader - Knowledge is power! If you don’t know where the shoes are releasing, you aren’t making your life any easier. Follow sneaker leakers on twitter and Instagram! The world of sneakers honestly moves so fast today. Use social media to your advantage to stay on top of things. If you’re old school then there’s plenty of great footwear forums out there too.

  • Enter (mostly) every raffle - This depends on the “hype” before release. If the shoe is getting a high amount of attention, enter every single raffle. You have to be in it to win it. Raffles can be annoying, different retailers have them up at different times. Each retailer has specific hoops to jump through. If the release is worth it to you - jump through those hoops. Sometimes you may see less hype for a shoe. If this is the case you can afford to be picky. Just enter whichever retailers you like purchasing from. I usually gravitate to ones with fast postage and simple return procedures.

  • Save links - When it comes to release day, it pays to be quick. Shoes can sell out in seconds. Save/Bookmark links of the sites that will have them beforehand to save yourself time.

A few specific cases

Raffles - Now to a Sneakerhead, a raffle is a pretty straightforward thing. If you are new to this world then the raffle concept is slightly different than what you’re used to. You’re entering to win a chance to BUY the sneakers you want. Yes, quantities are that scarce that you have to enter a competition to spend money on some shoes.

Yeezy - The process of buying the notorious Yeezy has got slightly easier recently. Mr West has been flooding the market with multiple shoes in multiple colourways So if you’ve always wanted a pair of 350s or 700s you should be able to get some eventually. Your best chance is direct from Adidas. Quantities are higher direct from the manufacturer. The release process on Adidas is fairly simple. Visit on the morning of release and wait for your chance to buy. It’s random so be patient. Good Luck!

Nike Sneakrs / Snkrs - Nike’s Sneakrs app is great when it works. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Continue to try your luck! Shoes on the app will normally either be a direct release or via “the draw”. A direct release means as soon as the clock hits the time of release you can buy so it pays to be fast. The draw is Nike’s raffle. There’s a 30-minute window for you to enter the draw. When the draw closes you typically have to wait another 20-30 minutes to find out if you were successful. Then if all goes well you’ll get an email or notification to let you know if you were lucky.

What Now?
  • Embrace the L - It doesn’t always work out. It feels shitty to spend a morning trying to buy something you wanted, trying on multiple websites, getting so close but still missing out. It happens a lot. You aren’t alone. Remember they’re just another pair of shoes.

  • Celebrate the W - If you were lucky enough to get what you wanted. Congratulations! Brag about it on social media if that’s your style! You defeated an army of automated sneaker buying robots and secured victory. Wear them well.

  • Only buy what you want/need: Some days you will want everything. Others you will hate everything. Desires change - so bear this in mind when spending. I’m not here to advise you on your finances but bear in mind that hype is not forever. Don’t solely (pun intended) buy a shoe to impress those around you. Buy what you like. Think about what fits your lifestyle. What works with your wardrobe?


Sneakerhead: A person with a passion for sneakers.
W: Win. Being successful.
L: Loss. Not getting what you wanted.
Cop: The act of purchasing or acquiring a product.
Bot: Robot. An automated script that purchases high quantities of a limited product on behalf of a person. The worst thing about buying sneakers today. Colourway: Refers to the combination of colours on the sneaker i.e. the infamous Bred colourway is black and red.
Outsole: The bottom of the shoe.
Midsole: The part of the shoe between the outsole and insole.
Icy Sole: Translucent sole
LC: Legit check. The act of authenticating a product.
Drop: Release. The moment when a product is available.
Swoosh: The Nike check logo
Shell Toes: Usually referring to the Adidas Superstar
AF1: Nike Air Force 1
1s, 3s, 4s, 11s, 13s: Basically refers to that Air Jordan model e.g. the Air Jordan 1.
Hype: Refers to the amount of buzz surrounding a release