Waiting for the shoe to drop: sneaker culture at El Camino


Sports and entertainment journalist Nick Hamilton poses with his blue sneakers that match his jacket. Hamilton was introduced to the sneaker culture when his father gave him his first pair of Jordans. “I don’t follow trends, I set trends,” Hamilton said. (Khallid Muhsin | The Union)

Although not well known for its sneaker culture, students and employees at El Camino College wear sneakers for fashion and comfort.

Now being back on campus for a year after El Camino switched to online-only instruction, students have shown off a variety of sneakers, such as Jordans, New Balance 550s and Nike Dunks, among many others.

People who wear sneakers that match their outfits show how sneaker culture has grown by a variety of people showing off what they have on their feet.

Most students that The Union surveyed on campus wear High-top sneakers and hardly any students wear Mid- or Low-top sneakers.

Most of the students surveyed who wear High-top sneakers have high fashion to put behind their sneakers and the rest of the students who wear Mid- or Low-top sneakers wear casual clothes with their sneakers.

Christopher H. Hurd, a counselor, first learned about sneakers through a family member but was primarily interested in clothing throughout high school, but he only started collecting sneakers at towards the end of high school.
Counselor Christopher Hurd wears orange, white and black sneakers at the Student Services building. He started collecting sneakers towards the end of high school. (Khallid Muhsin | The Union)

Counselor Christopher Hurd was introduced to sneaker culture by a family member who was given free sneakers when he played basketball in college. Hurd started collecting sneakers toward the end of high school to match his clothes.

“I mainly wear Jordans, but I wear my sneakers for mostly comfort than fashion even though I like to look good,” Hurd said. “There can’t be too many sneakers at a certain point in time, but I have not gotten there yet.”

When Hurd got a job, he started to purchase rare and exotic sneakers. Since high school, Hurd has collected so many sneakers they touch the ceiling.

Sports entertainment journalist Nick Hamilton was birthed into sneaker culture by his dad when he bought him his first pair of Jordans. Ever since then, he became passionate to start a collection of his own.

Nick Hamilton, Sports Entertainment Journalist is wearing the "Hyper Royal" 1s that came out 4 years. Hamilton has made sure he has sure to keep this pair of Jordan 1s in good condition.
Nick Hamilton, a sports entertainment journalist, wearing the “Hyper Royal” 1’s. Hamilton said he makes sure to keep this pair of Jordan 1s in good condition. (Khallid Muhsin | The Union)

Hamilton mainly wears Jordans, but he often mixes up his style and wears other sneakers including Kobes and LeBrons. People have wondered why Hamilton buys a wide variety of sneakers. Hamilton said he likes the combination of being fashionable and comfortable at the same time.

“Ever since I got my first pair of Jordans, I’ve been in love,” Hamilton said. “I don’t follow trends, I set trends.”

Engineering major Kale Nilsen originally got into sneaker culture because he saw his favorite hip-hop rappers wearing intriguing sneakers, which inspired him to get similar sneakers to look fresh and presentable.

Nilsen wears Jordans, New Balance 550s and Yeezys to be fashionable.

“I’ve been into collecting sneakers for four to five years,” Nilsen said. “Since I’ve been into collecting sneakers, I have more embraced the culture I’m in and have seen how big sneaker culture has blown up in my face.”

Kale Nilsen, 20, Enginering major matched a pale hoodie with the “Stage Haze” Jordan 1s to keep his outfit simple but comfortable.
Engineering major Kale Nilsen, 20, matched a pale hoodie with the “Stage Haze” Jordan 1’s. He said he likes to keep his outfit simple and comfortable. (Khallid Muhsin | The Union)

Music major Allan Mazariegos has been into sneaker culture for a couple of years and has made a collection. Mazariegos is a former reseller and started buying sneakers for himself.

“I wear sneakers for fashion,” Mazariegos said. “But I also like the comfort because you can’t like something without it being comfortable.”

Sneaker culture is bigger than ever at El Camino, from students previously wearing regular shoes to students and employees accounting for their sneakers when choosing between fashion and comfortability.

Allan Mazariegos, 21, Music is wearing the “Fire Red” Jordan 3s that came out recently. This pair of Jordan 3s is comfortable and fly to wear out with many white and red outfits.
Music major Allan Mazariegos wears “Fire Red” Jordan 3s that were recently released. Jordan 3s are not only fashionable with white and red outfits, but are also comfortable. (Khallid Muhsin | The Union)

Being a Sneakerhead does require a lot of effort, time and money, but it’s a serious passion that has developed since in-person classes have returned to campus.

Not everyone on campus is a sneakerhead, but a selection of students surveyed on campus–and even some employees–are sneaker collectors.