June 9

How to Buy Sneakers

The experts at Likelihood will lead you through the process.

Danny Ball is the creative studio manager for Likelihood, a Seattle-based streetwear boutique that specializes in rare and limited-edition sneakers and apparel. He handles Likelihood’s creative direction and marketing activities, including social media, photography, and cultivating the boutique’s robust online community. He’s also a self-professed reformed sneakerhead. He knows a thing or two about the sneaker world, so we picked his brain about how newcomers can find their way into some sweet kicks.

Inside a boutique shoe shop.

Discoverslu.com: What are three factors someone new to the sneaker buying experience should think about when shopping for their first pair of sneakers?

Danny Ball: First, it’s important to think about the purpose of your shoe. Is it fashion or functionality? If fashion, you can go in so many directions. If it’s functionality, that might narrow your options, but that allows you to go deeper. Are you walking in them, are you running, do you want waterproof materials? Those factors should help guide your search.

Next, if we’re talking about your very first pair of sneakers, or a staple pair, longevity is very important. Look for good materials. And don’t be afraid to try things on. Experts in our shop are there to help guide you, so be sure to make use of their expertise.

Finally, think about what you already have in your closet. If you have lots of reds, maroons, oranges, it’s probably a good idea to not go with a blue or navy sneaker. Buy what you’re comfortable with and find something that fits your identity.

DSLU.com: What shoe brands is Likelihood carrying right now?

DB: We have a range, and that’s what makes us a true boutique experience. We have the big names like Nike, Jordan, and New Balance and other names that have found a bigger following but don’t quite have a household name yet like Saucony, Asics, and On Running. We also have some under-the-radar brands like Mihara and EPT, which is a Korean brand.

DSLU.com: How do you keep your new sneakers clean?

DB: There is a brand that I love called Jason Markk. They have a few locations in LA and Tokyo where you can actually go into the store and drop off your sneakers to have them professionally cleaned. Really cool place, and I picked up some of their cleaning kits that work well at home. You can find them online, and they’re top-of-the-line cleaning products. Much better than the Lysol spray, magic eraser, and Windex I used to use when I was kid to keep my shoes clean.

DSLU.com: Are there any unwritten rules or etiquette that newcomers should be aware of when entering the sneaker community?

DB: I think the biggest thing to remember is to wear your sneakers. I know that I used to have sneakers that barely saw the light of day that I never took out of the box. It sounds ridiculous, but they are meant to be worn. Also, be sure to stay true to your style. There is a phenomenon right now where the retail price of the sneaker demonstrates how cool people think it is. I’ve never gotten a better compliment than when I’m wearing a discount pair that I got for maybe $30 shipped online. The ethos of that compliment hits differently when what you’re wearing is not so highly sought after. Stay true to what you think is cool and don’t let market value determine what your style is. That’s how you avoid copy and pasting other people’s collections and it’s what helps spark a different conversation.

Likelihood SLU is located at 2201 Seventh Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm, and Sunday, 11am to 6pm.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs Elizabeth Podlesnik & courtesy Likelihood.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle