Sneaker glossary

DS, grails, LPU eeeeeh WTF? These are some words and terms you might see often. We created a glossary to help you learn the common language used in the „shoe game”.

ACG – All Conditions Gear
Is a collection produced by Nike focusing on outdoor sports such a mountain climbing, hiking and long distance walks. The ACG collection is best known for incorporating materials that comply with various weather conditions.

AF1 – Air Force 1
One of the first trend setting shoes that comes in a traditional white/white colorway and over 3000+ random colorways. The shoe is produced by Nike and is one of the best selling shoes of all time.

Aglets – Aglets are those little things that are on the end of shoelaces. They used to be made of simple plastic but now, they come in everything from carbon fiber to custom labeled versions to Jesus piece-matching gold on the Nike Air Yeezy II (which, as you may have found out the hard way, tend to unscrew by themselves). We’re sure somebody will be making necklaces out of these things in no time. Also called an ornament or a tag.

AM – Air Max
Nike initially introduced the the Air Max technology in 1987 on the Nike Air Max 1. The shoe is supported by an air cushioning that is placed underneath the foot.

AJ – Air Jordan

Beater – A shoe that’s worn without care, usually a shoe that you wear all the time. This is also the same shoe you don’t mind getting stepped on, scuffed, or dirty.

Bespoke – In sneaker terms, Bespoke is a one-of-a-kind Air Force 1 designed at Nike’s 21 Mercer location where they offer a unique experience of creating a personalized sneaker using a special assortment of materials and finishes, right down to the stitching and labels. It’s a true “one of one” sneaker and the experience of creating your own is often on the bucket list of sneakerheads. The term came from suits and shoes, where it simply meant “made to order,” or “made to fit.” Definitely not off the rack.

B-Grade – A shoe that’s produced in the factory that may or may not have flaws. A certain amount has to be marked as “B-Grade” even if nothing is wrong with the shoe, and usually found in outlet stores.

Bred – A Jordan shoe with a black and red colorway.

BRS – Blue Ribbon Sports
The original footwear company started by Phil Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike. Blue Ribbon Sports would eventually lead to the establishment of Nike.

BNIB – Brand new in box, see NIB.

Camo – Camouflage

Colorway – A sneaker’s colorway is the particular combination of colors applied to a sneaker. It’s also a vastly annoying term, but a necessary evil in this world of ours. Often times, a nickname is associated with the colorway that’s found on the box. For instance, the Oregon, the Black Cements and the True Blues are all different colorways of the Jordan III silhouette. Come on people, can’t we just memorize the color codes?

DS – Deadstock
Deadstock is commonly misused to mean „brand „new only. The original meaning of dead stock is; unsold older stock „dead „stock. Most people use this word when describing a brand new shoe.

Deubré – Nike is always on top of adding details to their sneakers. The iconic Air Force 1 features on of the most misnamed details in the sneaker world, the deubré (or dubray). Sure, “lacetag” works just as well to describe that little label at the base of the shoelaces, but deubré, the name just makes you sound so much cooler.

Euro – Usually indicates that the shoe was only released in Europe.

FSR – Full Size Run, see size run

GR – General Release
A shoe that is made available by most sneaker retailers, it is not a limited model and can be obtained quite easily when released.

Grails – A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. For sneakerheads, grails are the same, in the sense that they’re the shoes you have to have before you die. Most grails tend to be uber-rare and extremely limited sneakers but for some sneakerheads, it can be that colorway that you can wear everyday and for others it’s that old pair you had as a kid that you wish you would have held onto. Grails are the shoe that complete you… and your sneaker collection. (Not that your collection will ever be “complete” — stop lying to yourself already.)

GS – Grade School
Shoes produced for infants and children. A term that was invented by Nike.

HOA – History of Air
In 2005 Nike released the History of Air pack with the tagline “3 decades of cushioning”. This pair was part of the now legendary Nike Powerwall which was a collection of 8 Air Max models released in 8 different styles or ‘colorways’ as they are referred to. The HOA shoes make up the top line of shoes in the wall image and where the most common release. The rest were much rarer with the bottom row only being available at certain select outlets who had special seller relationships with Nike referred to as ‘Tier 0′ accounts, in very limited numbers. (allegedly 144 pairs per shoe). Because of this the shoes that make up this row are often referred to themselves as Tier 0.

HTM – A set of shoes designed by Nike designers Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker. HTM is the first letter of each designers name.

LE – Limited Edition
A shoe that is produced in limited quantities and is only available through a select few retailers.

Lining – Part of the upper, the lining of a shoe is the inside material that touches the sides of the foot, the top of the foot, and/or the back of the heel. Linings can be made of a variety of materials. The main purpose of a lining is to cover the inside seams of a shoe, but linings made of special materials also tout comfort features such as additional padding, or the ability to pull moisture away from the foot.

Heat – Hard to find shoes usually older models but can also be newer models. This words gets over used, but the owner determines if the shoe is “Heat” based on their opinion.

High Top – High-tops, not rooftops-high like Wiz Khalifa, more like thunderous slam dunks and roughing people up in the paint high like David Robinson, Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins. High-tops back in the day were made to give additional ankle support. They were also actual high-tops, meaning the height of the sneaker was well above the top of the ankle. There are very few true high-tops made today, the Supra TK Society in fact, is the first one that comes to mind and it’s a skate shoe. Sigh. What passes for a “high” today would have been a low back in the day. Call us lame sneakerheads, but sometimes we miss those days.

Holy Grail – Your most wanted shoe that may be very expensive or extremely rare.
A shoe that has both sentimental and monetary value to the owner and supersedes the rest of the shoes in ones collection.

Hype – Is too much attention/talking about a certain shoe. In most cases “Hype” causes the value to go up because it’s now highly sought after. Hype, normally causes a person that doesn’t like the shoe to eventually want the shoe due to it’s “Hype”.

Hypebeast – One that likes a shoe because of it’s “Hype” or one that attempts to over exaggerate a shoe. A person who takes the street wear culture up a notch and wears some of the most expensive and sought after items available.

Hyperstrike – Sneaker released in extremely limited quantities.

ID – Individually Designed. Mostly referring to sneakers made on

J’s – Jordans

JB – Jordan Brand
A shoe line based around Michael Jordan. Shoes part of the line are also associated with the Air Jordan trademark.

LPU – Latest Pick Up.
The pair you just „picked up” / bought.

Mids – Hated by most, loved by few, worn by all. When it comes to mids, silhouettes like the Dunk and Air Force 1 are an “acquired taste.” They were also latecomers to the party, created due to popular demand. However, trainers and many basketball shoes fall into the mid-cut category without the label, which somehow makes them better. Many high tops have been retroed AS mids, however, which is simply unacceptable.

NDC – With most conversations nowadays taking place in a 140 characters or less, sneakerheads have opted to be more efficient and the acronym NDC has replaced Nike (dot) com, aka Nike’s online store. It’s a good thing, because is so long, we have a hard time remembering it. Also commonly referred to as “f*cking NDC!,” as in “f*cking NDC kept crashing when I was trying to cop Yeezys!”

NDS – Near Dead Stock
If a shoe is worn consecutively and shows slight wear but can pass as deadstock if cleaned and worked on.

NIB – New In Box
NIB is short for new in box, or new in the box. Period. If a shoe has been taken out of the box, as long as you didn’t try them on and you put them back exactly as they were, they can still qualify. But they’re no longer deadstock, though. Sorry.

NL – No Liner
A shoe that has no lining.

NT- Niketalk
One of the oldest and biggest forums to discuss Nike related stuff. Check

OBO – Or Best Offer

OG – Original
Originals. Not a retro, not a re-release, but the first time a shoe released is the only time a sneaker is called OG. It’s like code, for original. Don’t get caught slippin’ and say a retro is an OG because the Twitter sneaker police will ridicule you, because, you know, they have nothing better to do.

PE – Player Edition
A player-edition sneaker is one that is designed for a specific player, and then made available at retail, oftentimes as a quickstrike or limited release.

PE – Player Exclusive
Slightly different than “player edition” but still abbreviated with the same PE acronym, a player-exclusive sneaker is one designed specifically for a player and never intended for retail. Most of the time, these are only available in the size of the player they were designed for. Colorways are unique, details are even better and every so often you’ll see these land on eBay. Be prepared to spend some serious bread, though, there’s usually only a handful of these made in the whole world.

Premium – Usually made with high quality construction or material, and will most likely cost more.

Prototype – Sample that is never released may be called a “Prototype” (in most cases the first model)

Quickstrike – Only released at special Nike account stores, in most cases may pop out of no where in limited numbers. The term Quickstrike and the shortened “QS” version began showing up on boxes in the early 2000s. Back then, it was an unannounced release that hit the stores quickly and was in limited quantities. With the Internet giving us a look at sneaker rumors what seems to be years before they release, now it seems even a QS release gets can end up discounted on outlet shelves.

Reseller – A reseller is someone who buys sneakers (usually in bulk) with the intent to sell them. Love them or hate them, they’re a part of this sneaker thing and they’re not going away. They make it hard. Some of them provide you with a chance to get OG releases that you won’t find anywhere else. Others, they walk out of the local mall carting a full size run of those retros you won’t be able to get, gloating and taking pics for Instagram along the way. Guess which type makes us bitter?

Restock - A restock is simple, a retailer acquired more of the sneakers that recently sold out. In other words, those retros you just missed out on Friday and picked up for €200 over retail off eBay, yeah, those are now available again for retail.

Retail –  Price set by the retailer for a specific item. Resellers might sell their items at three times “retail”.

Retailerbusiness or person that sells goods to the consumer, as opposed to a wholesaler or supplier, who normally sell their goods to another business.

Retro / Re-Release – A retro model is a sneaker that came out previously that is released again. Retro sneakers are simultaneously the best and worst thing about sneakers. On the one hand, a retro model (aka bring-back, throwback, re-release) gives most of us the chance to grab a pair of shoes we either couldn’t get before, or we wore so much we gotta have another pair. On the other hand, it’s retros that seem to be the highest in demand on the resale market, making them harder to come by because of the quick buck people think they can make off of them. But we’ll take any retros we can get, really.

Sample – Usually a test shoe that will be released in the future or made to see if any changes need to be made. Also, a sample may be made, but never released in stores and the common “Sample” sizes are 3.5 Youth, 7 Women, 9 Men. Although there are „samples” that exist that are in bigger sizes, this is very rare. Generally speaking, it is an early makeup of a shoe that’s made so designers and retailers can see upcoming models. There are different types, of course. “Looksee” samples are typically in a size 9 and made for the reason above. “Weartest” samples are made in various sizes (basketball samples are most commonly size 13) to see how a new sneaker performs. And “player” samples are just another way of saying “player exclusives.” Samples occasionally turn up on eBay or at company sample sales and are definitely sought after in some circles.

SB – Skateboard
A shoe line dedicated to Skateboarding.

SE – Special Edition
A shoe that celebrates a certain occasion and is released in limited quantities. This term is best associated with Nike shoes.

Size Run – A size run of sneakers refers to the amount of sneakers a retailer, or reseller, has. Typically referred to as a full size run, which for guys sizes, most of the time includes sizes 6 through 12. Other variations of the term may include, partial size run, when some sizes are not available and no size run, which is of course when the Hypebeasts and resellers beat you to a release.

Tier 0 – It is the highest level account a store can hold. When Nike started with limited runs they called it Nike Quickstrike. When that got a bit too big they came up with Nike TierZero. That means that Nike has tiered all the stores that carry Nike. Tier 1 for those who know what they are doing, Tier 2 for those who need a bit more help, Tier 3 for those who has no clue and so on. So on top of the food-chain there is Nike TierZero. Those are the stores that are even better than Tier 1. Nike TierZero stores are allowed to buy from all other tiers. But a Tier 2 store can only buy Tier 2 and down. Tier 0 accounts can have BOTH quickstrikes and hyperstrikes as well as other shoes, so no the two are not interchangeable.

Toe box - The toe box is the part of a shoe that covers and protects your toes.

Upper – When describing a shoe, the upper is essentially any portion above the outsole and midsole. Upper or uppers, usually consist of materials, colors, straps and sometimes even wings. Sadly, sometimes uppers are hybridized and bastardized into gaudy creations (no, not you, Jeremy — you’re cool by us).

Uptowns – Uptowns, uppies, or classics, nicknames for the most iconic sneaker of all-time, the Nike Air Force 1, are endless. The term “Uptowns” came from the popularity in uptown NYC hoods like Harlem, where the white-on-white Air Force 1 low will always be a favorite sneaker.

VNDS – Very Near Dead Stock
Short for “very near dead stock,” this term began popping up on for sale postings throughout sneaker forums many years ago to describe a sneaker’s condition. In recent years, increasing the number of “very” in your near deadstock kicks for sale has become a trend we can’t condone or understand. We assume if your kicks are VVVVVVVVNDS, you’re clearly trying to hide something. Basically, the way it should work is this: If the shoes have never been touched, they’re DS. If they’ve been tried on, they’re NDS. If they’ve even touched the ground or taken a single step — them shits is used, holmes.

WDYWT- What Do You Wear Today.

WIVAH – Dutch equivalent of WOMFT. Wat Ik Vandaag Aan Heb.

WOMFT – What’s on My Feet Today.

X – Collaboration. It is common amongst footwear companies and streetwear brands to collaborate on projects. To symbolize the combination an X would be used between the two company names I.E. adidas x 10 Deep.

3M – Reflective Material
A reflective technology commonly placed on sneakers produced by corporate conglomerate Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.

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