Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Sneaker Freaker was founded by Simon Wood, aka Woody, in a bid to fuel his passion around sneakers and collecting.

Words by Yasmin Arrigo,
Global Editorial Director, Amplify.

As Managing Editor and Head of Global Communications and Partnerships, Audrey Bugeja
sets the editorial direction for a zine that welcomes the young teen dreaming of their first pair of killer kicks through to veteran sneakerheads who’ve been collecting for 40+ years - plus everyone in between.

The world of Sneaker Freaker

Our world started as a magazine, which is printed twice a year and stocked in all good bookstores and independent retailers from New York to Japan and quite prominently across Europe. And we are across the digital realm, we have about 10 million people per month visiting the site plus our social pages on everything from Instagram to Facebook and TikTok. We are an independent publication and we share our opinion in a really positive way.

The common element with our audience is that appreciation for the sneaker.

A shifting landscape

A shifting landscape

Ten to 15 years ago, the sneaker landscape was a subculture. Now it’s a global industry and people working in corporate spaces wear sneakers to the office, so the world of sneakers has definitely evolved and shifted. We have brands that have been around for 100-plus
years and particular silhouettes that have shaped or have really influenced culture.

Then there’s how sport comes into the mix – whether it is basketball or the terrace culture of football or tennis, sport is the absolute foundation.

The art of sneakers

The sneaker is a work of art. It’s the same as if we’re looking at a fashion and an apparel item or actually a work of art. It’s all about the design – there’s someone behind that, a team behind that and a reason for that. And that for me is art and design. It’s well known that in the industry there are people who purchase sneakers and don’t wear them and just keep them in their collection, and then obviously there are those who wear them and enjoy them in a different way.

It’s that bridge between something that’s heading into luxury. The late Virgil Abloh brought those two worlds of streetwear and luxury together. And there’s been another way of appreciating the sneaker through the likes of virtual platforms that talk about it in a way that is deserved. We’ve got so many amazing designers in our community who work across the sneaker spaces for all different types of brands. So, in short, a sneaker is absolutely a piece of art.

Sustainable futures

Sustainable futures

There’s so much consideration that goes into sneaker design and production across the globe. So much goes into the design of a sneaker – thinking about comfort and design, the functionality aspects of a piece of footwear, plus the materials selected to make it work. Brands that are wanting to design and produce products that minimise waste are finding new ways to do that.

We’re liaising with some brands that we’re really close with and actually seeing what they’re providing to their design team is super exciting. That’s allowing them new, exciting and collaborative ways to design sneakers that minimises waste and has a different approach to production. I think it’s really important that we look at ways that technology can enhance this and make a more sustainable place across the sneaker industry.

Inclusive spaces

Reaching the volume of people that Sneaker Freaker does is not something that we take lightly. I often remind my team to just remember what impact our voice will have. We have such a fantastic team of really passionate people that actually understand what it means
to work in this space, but we definitely have a role to play. And personally, I am the only female footwear editor in this position and that’s a really important role. We’ve always been a very inclusive brand in terms of gender, race, location ... you name it.

It’s been really important to continue to communicate the importance of having an inclusive space and acknowledge that, when we look at sneaker collecting and some elements of the industry, there’s no denying that there’s some barriers to purchase. It’s getting harder to get some of the top releases.

Nevertheless, what we find so important is to ensure that we have a community that helps each other and that all have that common element. So for us, the future is really bright. We still are an independent brand and we’ve been around for 20 years, and I feel like our best work is still to come. There’s a really big year ahead – a lot of exciting things are launching. From my perspective in my role, I’ll just continue to grow our community authentically and show women across the sneaker industry and across the fashion world that we’re here to stay and we’ve never left. We have a really strong female community, which is just so wonderful for me to see grow year-on-year organically.

Sneaker Freaker allows that female consumer to come in and feel confident that they can share their passion for sneakers without being looked down upon or trolled, which was happening in the industry 15 years ago. The sneaker industry, as with any industry, has its ups and downs. So for us, it’s about riding those out and just remaining true to who we are. And I think that’s why we’re still around and still a really strong independent voice in the sneaker world.