SneakersThe Top

Sneaker Slang 101: The Ultimate Sneaker Terminology Guide

6 Mins read

Confused by the terms QS, TD, GS and other abbreviations while shopping for sneakers? You’re not alone. Sneaker culture and its terminology are continuously expanding and we know its hard to keep up, especially for new sneakerheads. That’s why we have created this guide that includes common sneaker slang terms to ease you into the larger sneaker community. 

Kicks

Kicks is another way people call sneakers today. For example, check out these kicks below!

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Green Glow'
Air Jordan 4 Retro 2024 'Military Blue'
New Balance 2002R Protection Pack 'Rain Cloud'

Deadstock (DS)

This refers to a shoe that has never been worn or even tried on. As they look new, they are primarily used to trade or to sell.

Sneakerhead

A sneakerhead is someone that is passionate about sneakers. They also refer to people who collect sneakers as a hobby.

Hypebeast

This refers to a person that only buys sneakers purely because of the hype. They will make sure to get their hands on every limited edition pair. Here are some sneakers that we think are worth the hype. 

Air Jordan 5 Retro 2024 'Olive'
Air Jordan 11 Retro Low 'Space Jam'
Futura Laboratories x Nike Dunk Low SB 'Bleached Aqua'

Beaters

They are worn on every occasion even in the rain. They are the shoes you would not mind getting dirty and beat up. To be chosen as your everyday shoes, these beaters must be snug and comfortable, yet stylish to complement any outfit. Here are our picks for sneakers that can become your beaters.

adidas Samba OG 'Black Gum'
New Balance 550 'Oreo'
ASICS Gel 1130 'White Cloud Grey'

Retro

This refers to a shoe that has been released again after its initial drop. Sometimes they are used as a verb, where retro-ed means re-released.

Nike Killshot 2 'Midnight Navy'

Originals (OG)

This describes the very first release of the sneaker. Re-release sneakers (retros) do not count as OGs. 

GR - General Release

A general release shoe is one that is not limited edition and released to major chains. Anyone can walk into a store and purchase these shoes.

Quickstrike

A quickstrike is a limited release, with no announcement of the exact release date. They would typically be only released to urban accounts, which are stores that can receive special and limited releases.

Collab - collaboration

A “collaboration” in sneaker terminology refers to a partnership between a sneaker brand and another entity, such as a celebrity, designer, or another brand, to create a unique sneaker design. Check out some of these celebrity collaborations below

Bad Bunny x adidas Forum Buckle Low 'The First Cafe'
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low OG 'Olive'

Grails/Holy Grails

A ‘grail’ or ‘holy grail’ is that number one shoe on your sneaker list. It is your most sought after shoe and is usually hard to obtain because they are expensive or rare. Purchasing this shoe will be an achievement for yourself. Below are some shoes we think are grail worthy.

Nike Dunk High Le 'Light Zen Grey/Obsidian'
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Retro Low OG SP 'Black Phantom'

Fufu

This is a slang term to describe a sneaker that is fake and counterfeit. It is the shortened version of the words fugazi.

SB - Skateboarding

Usually termed as Nike SB, these shoes refer to Nike Dunks that are made for skateboarding. With the needs of skateboarders in mind, they feature enhanced cushioning, durability and sole grip.

Nike SB Dunk Low 'Black Gum'
Nike SB Dunk Low 'Court Purple'

SE - Special Edition

Special edition sneakers are produced to celebrate an occasion or event.

PE - Player Edition

Player edition – This is a shoe designed for an athlete using unique colourways or a special markup.  This design is then released for retail.

AF1 - Nike Air Force 1

The Nike AF1s are a classic shoe and they have expanded beyond just the white AF1s. Now, they come in a variety of colourways and designs, making each pair unique.

Nike Air Force 1 '07 'White'
Nike Air Force 1 '07 LV8 'College Pack - Midnight Navy'
Nike Air Force 1 '07 LX 'Oil Green Terra Blush'

AM - Nike Air Max

The visible air cushioning in the Nike Air Max is really one of a kind, giving wearers the perception of walking on air. The air max now boasts a range of new silhouettes, so whether you are looking for something chunky or sleek, they are sure to have something in your style.

Nike Air Max 90 LV8 SE 'Valentine's Day'
Nike Air Max Plus 'Black Metallic Silver'
Nike Air Max 1 PRM 'White'

J's - Air Jordans

From the basketball court to the streets, the Air Jordans are an iconic line of Nike shoes. In collaboration with NBA star Michael Jordan, these sneakers have revolutionized the scene and become a streetwear staple.

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Yellow Ochre'
Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Metallic Gold'

Co.JP

In a bid to expand their reach to the global market in the 2000s, Nike started releasing shoes that were exclusive to Japan only. During its original release, these drops were highly anticipated by sneakerheads and getting their hands on one was considered an achievement.

Nike Dunk Low CO.JP 'Ultraman'
Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG CO.JP 'Metallic Silver / Neutral Grey'

GS - Grade School

Grade school shoes refer to the kid sizes of shoes. If you have smaller feet, these grade school shoes could probably fit you and you can get them at a lower price.

(GS) adidas Campus 00s 'Grey Gum'

PS - Pre-school

These are sizes that are even smaller than grade school.

(PS) Hello Kitty x Nike Air Presto 'University Blue'

TD - Toddler

These are shoes for toddlers.

(TD) Nike Pico 4 TDC Blue

Breds

It is a combination of the words black and red. As its name says, they are shoes with any black and red colourway. They are commonly used for Jordan IVs, XIs, and XIIs.

adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 'Bred'
Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Patent Bred'

Wheats

The wheat colourway boasts the smooth and chestnut brown tones of a Timberland boot.

Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 Low SP 'Wheat'
New Balance 992 Made In USA 'Wheat'
Air Jordan 4 Retro PRM 'Wheat'

Conclusion

Understanding these sneaker terms definitely helps in knowing why the price of sneakers is as such, as well as appreciating the design and uniqueness of each silhouette. We hope that this guide has been useful in your selection of sneakers in the future! Let us know of any more new terms and for aspiring sneakerheads, start building your collection at novelship.com today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who came up with these terms?

The evolution of sneaker terminology is closely tied to the growth and evolution of sneaker culture itself, which has roots in sports, fashion, and subcultures. Some terms are shortened or abbreviated versions of the full sneaker name and some terms were birthed in unofficial sneaker marketplaces where shoes were being resold and traded. 


What does BIN mean in sneaker terms?

BIN means buy it now. This means that the seller has fixed a price for the shoe and is not open to bargaining and negotiating with buyers.


What does Full Size Run (FSR) mean in sneaker terms?

Having a full size run would mean that resellers or retailers have managed to get a hold of the shoe in every single size. This would mean getting size 6-12 for men’s sizes.

What does NIB stand for in sneaker terms?

NIB means new in box, They are slang for new sneakers that are still in their box and have not been worn yet. They will be shipped in their original box to buyers.

What does flake mean?

The act of going back on the agreed terms of a transaction on dropping out of a deal.

What does WTT, WTB and WTS mean in sneaker terms?

These are commonly used terms in unofficial sneaker marketplaces. It means want to trade (WTT), want to buy (WTB) and WTS (want to sell) respectively.

What does hyperstrike mean?

A hyperstrike is the most limited of releases and typically only 25-100 pairs of shoes are released. They are kept under wraps and would drop without warning. 

What does "QC" mean in sneaker terminology?

“QC” stands for “quality control,” which refers to the process of inspecting and ensuring the quality and consistency of a sneaker’s manufacturing. It involves checking for defects, flaws, and overall craftsmanship.

What does cop mean?

Cop is slang for buy or get. It can be used as such – cop your favorite sneakers on novelship.com now!

What does colourway mean?

It is a specific combination of colors used on a sneaker design. Some iconic colourways include the black and red colourway on jordans.

What are some iconic celebrity sneaker collaborations?

Some notable collaborations include American rapper Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1, Bad Bunny x Adidas.

What are some iconic athlete sneaker collaborations?

The most popular one of them all has to be Michael Jordan and Nike, a collaboration that launched a whole other brand Air Jordan. Other athletes have also collaborated with the footwear monolith Nike like tennis player Roger Federer and golfer Tiger Woods. Football star Neymar Jr has also signed a deal with Puma in 2020, launching 2 new football boots. 

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