Illustrations by Danny Scanzoni

by Nick Engvall

Like many subcultures, the world of sneaker collecting has its own vernacular that may seem like a foreign language to the uninitiated. If you're new to this world, it can be intimidating. And even if you've been around for years, there may be a few terms you've never understood and have been embarrassed to ask about. Sole Collector has compiled a glossary to help guide your way through the complex world of sneaker lingo. Read below to get your knowledge up. 


Those metallic things on your lace tips that nobody cared about until Yeezy taught them about them.
Usage:  Aglets are dope on Yeezys, but using Yeezy aglets on other shoes is whack.


The old guy on the block's way of describing Air Force 1s.
Usage: "All I need Rocawear... (check) Nike Airs... (check) Mean bucket... (uh huh)" - Jay-Z





Discounted and outlet quality sneakers that didn't meet quality control standards. How resellers get rich.
Usage: You got B-Grade Banned 1s? You weak, son.


Shoes you wear regularly and don't care about cleaning up. Unless you're trying to be a cool guy. In that case, you may have worn them twice to stunt on Instagram.
Usage: Had to make a bodega run, so I threw on my beaters.?


A one-of-a-kind creation you make at Nike's design studio in New York City.
Usage: Mayor is the king of Bespoke Air Force 1s.


Short for Black History Month. BHM is basically a way for brands to make themed sneakers that are irrelevant to what they are supposed to represent.
Usage: Celebrate imaginary heritage with the latest BHM collection.


A term that is short for "black and red" that basically tells you someone is a n00b or band wagoner.
Usage: I grabbed a new pair of Breds so I could take corny Instagram pics in my kitchen.





Abbreviation for Countdown Pack, a series of two-sneaker Air Jordan packs in which both sneaker models added up to the number 23.
Usage: The Jordan CDP releases meant you could get one dope shoe and one whack shoe in the same box.


A combination of colors used to differentiate styles. Usually shortened into 1 or 2 words, because sneakerheads are lazy. (see Bred)
Usage: LeBron James wore over 50 colorways of the Nike LeBron 12 last year.





AKA, Doernbechers. A line of sneakers created for charity that goes to the OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Usually highly sought after and immorally priced in the resale market.
Usage: Doernbecher releases are out of hand but hey, you got them Js though.


Dead, as in the stock that doesn't sell and sits on shelves. Nowadays, deadstock or DS is used to describe an unworn pair of shoes.
Usage: I like searching old sneaker stores for deadstock gems.


A term created by Nike for the jewelry-like accouterments that are placed on laces.
Usage: If your Air Force 1s don't come with a deubré they might be fake.


Short for the "Defining Moments Pack," that included a gold-accented Air Jordan 11 and Air Jordan 6 to celebrate the first of Michael Jordan's two championship threepeats.

Usage: The original DMP Jordan release changed sneaker packs forever.




Factory Lacing

A term for the way laces come straight from the factory. Because, you know, nobody could re-tie laces in the same way the factory does it.
Usage: These shits ain't even been worn – still got the factory lacing and everything.


1.) A cool guy's way of saying the style of a sneaker is nice. 
2.) Fire, or the fire emoji, can also be used for the same purpose.
Usage: Man, those new Ronnie Fiegs is FLAMES.


Short for Fragments, a term used to describe one of the most hyped collaborators of all time, Fragment Design.
Usage: The resell prices on Frags are bananas.


Short for "full size run." Usually refers to having all sizes between 7-12, including half sizes, depending on the retailer, brand, or model.
Usage: Got a FSR of Jordans for sale before they come out on Saturday. #teamearly





Short for "general release." The most common sneakers available, produced in generous amounts and typically easily available. The lowest of the low in terms of cool.
Usage: I'm not into hyped shoes, so I wear GRs to show I'm an anti-hypebeast.


1.) The most desired sneakers in one's own opinion. Usually seemingly unattainable.
2.) Derived from "holy grail." In short, Yeezys.
Usage: 1985 original Air Jordan 1 Royals should be your grails.





A cool guy term to say a sneaker is cool. See the irony there?
Usage: I got a closet full of heat.


1.) High tops, Hi-tops, Hi, Aloha, Hola, etc. 
2) Sneakers that are designed to rest above your ankles.
Usage: You know a sneakerhead is real if they only wear Jordan 1 Highs. 


House of Hoops, a partnership between Nike and Foot Locker originating in Harlem, that has resulted in some great exclusives, long lines, and lots of violence.
Usage: HOH exclusives used to have cats lined up every week.


A design collaboration between Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Nike CEO Mark Parker. HTM is also short for extra hype and higher prices. 
Usage: If the HTM story were a biblical tale, they'd be the equivalent of turning water into wine.


All of us.
Usage: I'm a hypebeast. You're a hypebeast. We're all hypebeasts.


Type of account for Nike dealers who receive very limited product with very little warning.
Usage: You know your favorite shop is the shit if they get the super limited hyperstrike drops.





Acronym for "In Style Shoes," a website that was once owned by Sole Collector-founder Steve Mulholland, that originated when he scooped up old stock as he traveled the world.
Usage: You're semi-OG if you used to post collection pics on the ISS forums.





Short for Jordans. If you're reading this, they're sold out.
Usage: I live at home still but I got them Js, though.




Lace Swap

This might be super confusing, but this is what it's called when you swap your laces from the originals.
Usage: Nothing makes a GR look more like a Kithstrike than a 3M rope lace swap.

Lateral Side

1.) The outside of the foot, without the arch. 
2.) The side of the shoe that is best used for stuntin' on IG.
Usage: The lateral side of the Air Trainer SC always has a Swoosh.


Sneakers that are designed to rest below your ankles. See Highs.
Usage: You can never go wrong with AF1 Lows in the summer.




Medial Side

The inner side of the foot, which shouldn't be the focal point of your Instagram pics.
Usage: The medial side of an Air Trainer SC doesn't have a Swoosh.

Mercer/21 Mercer

A mythical place in New York City where sneakers manage to sell out before they even release.
Usage: If you are ever visiting NYC, 21 Mercer is a must. 


1.) Not quite Highs.
2.) The least respected of Air Force 1 designs.
Usage: Read Four Pins once and you'll own a pair of AF1 mids.


1.) The part of the shoe that lives under your feet, but doesn't make contact with the ground. 
2.) Best used to house cushioning like Air, Boost or Hexalite.
Usage: Cracked midsoles kill kittens.





An abbreviation for Nike Dot Com. Because typing the whole thing out was so difficult.
Usage: It's sadderday and NDC f*&%ed me again.


Acronym for "Near Deadstock." Described as shoes with some wear, but not overly worn and un-cared for. See Beaters.
Usage: I only wore these to the mall once; they are NDS.


Short for for "new in box," as opposed to those of you that put your dirty ass sneakers back in their boxes.
Usage: I got Yeezys for sale, NIB.


Also known as newb, a term used to describe people that are late to the bandwagon and overtly try to fit in despite their lack of knowledge.
Usage: This N00B is trying to school me on sneakers? FOH.


Acronym for "New Old Stock." It's rare people care about this anymore, but this is what you would go digging through the back rooms of mom & pop retailers for.
Usage: Find yourself an old mom and pop shop with some NOS and you'll be ISS famous.


1) Short for NikeTalk, a website established in 1999 and used to be responsible for all the sneaker leaks. 
2.) The best place on the Internet to get clowned for #NTDenim.
Usage: If your NT membership began in 1999, you're an OG.


A style made iconic by Michael Jordan, '80s and '90s hip-hop artists, and I'd like to think, yours truly. Basically, mom jeans for men.
Usage: I refuse to wear anything but Levi's 501s, #NTDenim for life.


See also NIB. Just happens to be a term that is more popular outside of sneakers. Either way, it means NEW.
Usage: I got Air Kanyes for sale, NWB.





1) Short for "or best offer"  
2) An option that ensures that lowballers will offer next to nothing for anything you are selling.
Usage: Yeezy 750 Boost for sale: $1,000,000 OBO.


1.) Short for original 
2) DJ Clark Kent and Russ Bengtson (the opposite of n00bs or retros).
Usage: OGs know what it means to have that 25 PSI back on the Air Max 95.

On Ice

1.) Meaning you have a pair unworn for another day. Not to be confused with wearing sneakers on ice. 
2) A term that Instagram foolios take literally and create corny pictures with. 
Usage: I grabbed two pairs – one to rock and one to keep on ice.




Player Edition

A sneaker design intended for a player that is produced and sold at retail.
Usage: Ray Allen 13s are player editions that released to the public. 

Player Exclusive

A sneaker design intended for a player that is produced specifically for the player, and reproduced in other sizes by the PLMs at Nike so they can resell them at ridiculous prices.
Usage: Any MJ player exclusive Jordans are grail status.


Short for Product Line Manager.  A person that manages the production numbers and orders for a particular category of a sneaker company's products.
Usage: If you're friends with the PLM, you always have a connect.





A product that shows up with little notice and in limited quantities. Also, the best sneaker talk show on the internet. 
Usage: I miss Quickstrike.




Red Octobers

A term Kanye West created while trying to build hype for his Nike line, until he realized nobody at Nike cared about him and they just wanted to use him to make money. The Red Yeezys never released in October, which means this term shouldn't even exist.
Usage: "Yeezy's all on your sofa. These the Red Octobers" – Kanye West


Jordan Brand's way of charging $20 extra for a retro.
Usage: The quality on remastered Jordans means they can charge you more for them.


The reason Jordan Brand can get away with charging $20 extra for a retro. Often improperly referred to as "scum of the earth," "pieces of shit," and the reason "the game is fucked up." In short, resellers are entrepreneurs that worked harder to make connections than most sneakerheads are willing to work.
Usage: "I hate resellers" – Everyone who didn't get Saturday's Jordan release.


The reason you should not try to become a reseller. Also, an excuse to produce more sneakers and create more demand for styles that didn't sell out in the first place.
Usage: We didn't sell out, so we pretended to restock and tweeted out the same link over again.


Not OG.
Usage: Wearing retro shit is old fashioned according to Big Sean.





A sneaker that was produced with the intention to physically see how the style, materials, or design would feel and function. And also one of the most falsified keyword terms in eBay history.
Usage: Sample size is typically 9 or 13 for men.


Short for Nike Skateboarding, an active category within Nike.
Usage: Everyone claims SBs are dead but they keep retroing classics.


The bottom of the sneaker that touches the ground. Sometimes icy, occasionally gummy and always dirty if they're white.
Usage: Nothing ruins your soles like wearing your shoes does.


You already know!
Usage: SC is the GOAT sneaker magazine.

Special Edition

Abbreviated, that's SE. At this point, it really doesn't mean anything.
Usage: The Jordan XX8 SE didn't have the crazy shroud the regular XX8 had.





All one color. For example, the Red Octobers, although not October, are tonal red.
Usage: Why say all black when you could say tonal black and sound so much cooler?


Tier Zero, although it sounds like some sort of Star Trek time travel speed, TZ is actually the highest of Nike accounts. They receive incredibly limited product and usually sell it out the back door before you have a chance to buy it.
Usage: TZ releases back in the day used to be crazy difficult to get.





The part of the sneaker that wraps the foot and attaches to the midsole. Great for spilling coffee, ice cream or nacho cheese on, and best when treated with some Crep Protect or Jason Markk.
Usage: The ZX Flux has almost no limitations on how its upper can be designed.


An ancient term that is used to describe Air Force 1s. Scholars have determined the origins have been long lost but all signs point to the man, the myth, the legend, Bobbito.
Usage: "In a fresh pair Air Force One sneakers Uptowns, we call em uppies, when they're on divas." - Rakim





Very Near Deadstock. AKA, "Worn once, in the house, only for Instagram...because I can't afford to buy sneakers and pay my rent, eat and go to school, but I'm so thirsty for attention I do it anyway and lose money in the process."
Usage: You know a pair is VNDS when the soles are icy.





Air Force 1s, bruh.

Usage: White-on-whites are classic summer time kicks.