Sneakerboy: Photo by March Studio.

While Nike tends to still hold fast to the notion that sneakers are not fashion, but are first and foremost about high-tech function, niche brands with a nod towards fashion have plowed their way into the cool aesthetics of a new culture of sneaker-heads. Not that Nike’s not on the leading-edge of sneaker style, because they are and probably will be forever, but long ago there started a splintering, a breaking away of function then fashion to fashionably-functional and the rise of a new fan of sneakerdom—the guys and girls who didn’t wear kicks for sports but rather for personal style.

From Puma’s haute couture faux kickboxing footwear, to Rick Owens low-tech/high-style tennis shoes, to Vans limited-editions and rocker collab skate shoes, the sneaker world includes a huge range of coveted symbology: Individuality, style, and a satisfying solution to insatiable curiosity from extremely savvy-buyers fascinated by the next evolution has provided one of the most exciting landscapes of fashion and retail today.

Like getting the latest Apple products or underground urban vinyl toy, there’s an incredibly strong market that’s exploding, and now, especially in Hong Kong and China that’s undeniably where top sneaker brands are targeting. Here’s what’s going on including the changing landscape of retail in the world of sneaker culture.

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