Straatopedia: A Sneaker Terminology Guide

Straatopedia: A Sneaker Terminology Guide

HS, QS, LS, #WOMFT, OG, LPU… Ever wondered what these terms mean? Here’s our sneaker terminology to help you understand.

Sneaker terminology as Seen on Shoe Boxes


air yeezy 2

Image via Klekt

ACG – All Condition Gear
ACG, or All Condition Gear, is Nike’s outdoor division. They either beef up existing silhouettes and apparel or create new ones designed to handle all weather conditions.

Co. JP
The Co.JP program started in the early 2000s and saw the release of super exclusive sneakers that were sold only in Japan. These releases are highly coveted and you’d have to be in the know to know how to pick up a pair. Some recent Co.JP drops include the Nike Dunk Samba, Air Jordan 1 Hi OG Co.JP “Neutral Grey/Japan” and Air Jordan 1 High OG Co.JP “Midnight Navy”.

HS – Hyperstrike
Shoes labeled HS are the most exclusive of all. They come in very limited quantities, with the majority given to friends and families (FNF) of artists and celebrities.
Example: Nike Air Force 1 “Playstation”, which was a promotional shoe given to Sony employees back in 2006.

QS – Quickstrike
Relatively rare shoes that are not as exclusive as Hyperstrike releases. Traditionally, QS sneakers did not have a release date tagged with them, but now they do. Typically available in Tier 0 stores that carry the most exclusive sneakers; examples would be the United States’ Undefeated, Netherland’s Patta, Tokyo’s Atmos and Singapore’s Surrender Store.
Example: Nike Roshe Run Hyperfuse

Tier 0
Tier 0 accounts refer to sneaker retailers that have a close relationship with Nike. Part of their tier 0 privileges is access to NRGY releases, special edition kicks and coveted collaborations.

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SP – Special Project
Nike SP represents the highest level of Nike quality, and also an avenue for Nike’s creative endeavors. All NikeLab releases are SP and some collabs are also categorized as SP.
Example: Nike Free Flyknit Mercurial SP

HTM – HTM denotes the first letters the first names of Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield and Matt Parker
HTM shoes are designed by the creative trio comprising Fragment Design’s Hiroshi Fujiwara, Nike’s legendary designer Tinker Hatfield and Nike’s CEO and designer Matt Parker. The trio has been working together since 2002 to create and experiment with the latest technology and unique designs.
Example: Nike Flyknit HTM Trainer+

SB – Skateboarding
These shoes are specially made for skateboarders and usually come with thicker tongues.
Example: Nike Dunk Low SB

LS – Lifestyle
Shoes that are meant for casual wear and not for performance.
Example: Air Jordan 4 LS

NRG – Energy
Not much has been said to define what NRG stands for exactly, but if the nature of the release of NRG shoes such as the Air Yeezy and the Galaxy Foamposite are anything to go by, NRG could well denote shoes that are extremely limited in quantity.
Example: Nike Air Yeezy 2 NRG

PRM – Premium

NSW – Nike Sportswear
New products that stem from reinvented classics are deemed NSW.
Example: Nike Tiempo, previously a soccer boot, was reinvented into a lifestyle shoe.


sneaker terminology adidas box

Image via Klekt

Spezial is Adidas’ retro program that revives classic silhouettes from the ‘80s and ‘90s that revolve specifically around handball and football sneakers. It focuses on heritage, construction and exclusivity.

4D is Adidas’s most advanced midsole technology, formed using 3D printing technology and Digital Light Synthesis. It’s hard to miss with its distinctive light green hue and web-like pattern.

Adidas Boost is one of the Three Stripe’s most comfortable midsole technologies. Created by German chemical company BASF, the midsole is formed by expanding thousands of tiny particles in a fixed mold. Boost is used in most Yeezy sneakers and the Ultraboost, also made famous by Kanye West.

Created and developed by Kanye West, the Yeezy line is Adidas’ most sought after collaboration. Their partnership yields regular releases that often sell out globally and. Outside of Adidas, the Yeezy brand Kanye West creates high-fashion apparel, utility boots and more.


sneaker terminology vans box

Image via My Juan P

Anaheim Factory
Vans sneakers that are released under the Anaheim Factory collection are made to replicate the quality and production methods used by the brand’s very first factory located in Anaheim, California, which was opened in 1966.

If DX is written on the sneaker’s box label, it indicates the use of higher quality materials and sock liners on a classic Vans silhouette.

If LX is written on the sneaker’s box label, it indicates the use of premium fabrics like leather and suede on a classic Vans silhouette.

MTE, or Mountain Edition, is the Vans outdoor division that takes classic silhouettes and adapts them for all-weather conditions.

From 2005 till 2015, the Syndicate division within Vans was tasked to develop unique collaborations with the biggest names in the skating and streetwear scene. The designers were given creative freedom but this meant that Vans Syndicate sneakers came with hefty price tags.

The most premium line that Vans sells. Vault is composed of classic silhouettes reimagined through the lens of modern art, culture and streetwear. These sneakers are often some of the most adventurous designs from the brand.

New Balance

NB tongue

Image via Klekt

New Balance shoes typically have a code name which can be found on the inside of the tongue. This code can broken down into three sections for easier deciphering.

For example, the M1500BWG can be read as M-1500-BWG. The first letter is a reference to the gender (“M” for male and “F” for female). A second letter would identify what type of shoe it is. “MR” would therefore refer to a Men’s Running shoe.

Custom or collaborative sneakers would have a “C” in front (e.g. “CM” and “CW”). Each New Balance model has its own style number, and this is shown in the second section of the code. Common numbers include the 574, 996 and 1300.

The last three letters generally refer to the sneaker’s colorway. For instance, “BWG” would mean that the colors blue, white and grey are present on the shoe. Exclusive releases might even bear custom letters for this section of the code.

Terms Used in Sneaker Transactions

air max amsterdam

Image via Facebook

A sneaker bought with the intention of being resold, but has no secondary market value and therefore can’t be sold off.

DS/BNDS – Deadstock/Brand New Deadstock
There has been an ongoing debate among sneakerheads about what deadstock actually means. Some consider deadstock to be a reference to shoes not being produced and sold at retailers anymore. However, most take the term deadstock to mean a shoe being in a brand new condition. And when they say brand new, they mean it. A shoe that has been tried on once is not be considered to be DS anymore.

Stands for Un-deadstock. To take a perfectly mint condition sneaker out of the box and wear them out for the first time. Some regard Un-DSing rare sneakers as the biggest flex a sneakerhead can pull off.

To buy a sneaker with the intention of reselling or trading them for another pair.

NWT – New With Tag(s)
An alternative to DS. Expect the sneakers to come complete with accompanying tags.

VNDS – Very Near Deadstock
This would include shoes that have been worn once or twice and look as good as new.

BIN – Buy It Now (Price)
With the growth of sneaker communities, administrators have established rules that facilitate the buying and selling of sneakers, and BIN is one of them. Simply put, BIN is the price the seller is willing to sell the the sneaker at immediately. With the option to quote BIN prices at sneaker marketplaces online, sellers won’t need to hold auctions, which weeds out the problem of fake bids, a common occurence on these platforms since they aren’t bound by legal regulations like merchants on eBay are.

OBO – Or Best Offer
If you see “BIN $550 OBO”, this implies that this particular seller is okay with selling below the BIN price (see definition above) and is open to reasonable offers.

Backing out after the seller and buyer have agreed to a price, time and place of deal.


NIB or New In Box, refers to sneakers that are basically untouched in their original box. The sneakers may be years old, but remain as fresh as the day they left the factory.

Popular Sneaker Hashtags

straatgram #Straatgram
Straatosphere‘s very own hashtag that has over 11,000 contributions from the Southeast Asian sneaker community and beyond.

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Features of Sneakers

Streetwear terminology Yeezy Tonal aglets

The Nike Yeezy Air II is known for its tonal colorways and metallic aglets.

Aglets are the shiny little plastic or metal embellishments at the end of shoelaces. Depending on the style and the material, they can give sneakers a polished and luxurious look. Sometimes, special edition sneakers get carbon fiber or even bright gold aglets – a small touch to help them stand out.

The term ‘colorway’ is used to refer to the colors used on a sneaker. They are generally nicknames, either given by the brand or the fans. For instance, the Air Jordan 1 “Bred” colorway refers to an AJ1 with a special red and black color combination.

A deubré is the tiny shiny metal embellishment that can be found threaded through shoelaces. Pronounced “du-bray”, it is commonly called a lacetag as well. We see this on a lot of Nike sneakers, especially retros.

Tonal sneakers come in a single tone of color. This is particularly popular with triple black, red and white colorways. Tonal colorways tend to sell out the fastest, especially tonal black and white colorways.

Vis-tech is short for visible technology and refers to sneaker designs that expose the technology used within its construction. The most famous Vis-tech is the exposed Air Units in Nike Air Max sneakers.

A set of sneakers that drops as part of a series or special edition release. The most notable pack in recent times is the Jordan “New Beginnings” pack, which comprised of the first-ever retro of the Nike Air Ship PE and Air Jordan 1 Hi OG “Chicago”.

Icy sole
Icy soles are the blue-tinted, translucent outsoles seen on sneakers like the Air Jordan 11, the Reebok Question and other coveted Dunks. They always look great at the start but are known to yellow over time.

Gum sole
Gum soles are brown outsoles, normally added to sneakers to give them a vintage vibe. Converse Chuck Taylors are known for having dark gum outsoles.

3M refers to the reflective material that is used as accents on a sneaker’s upper and laces. Its name comes from the company.

Types of Sneakers

Streetwear terminology Air Jordan 1 comparison

Air Jordan 1 OG High (left), Mid (centre) and Low (right)

Beaters are sneakers chosen for daily use. The “beatings” the sneakers get from being worn every day — the scuffs, stains and markings that the shoes pick up – tell the story of its wearer’s life.

These are personalized, one-of-a-kind sneakers that are made to order. They resemble a GR silhouette but use materials and color blocking that are customized to your taste. These can include custom stitching and labels as well. A great example of bespoke sneakers is the Jordan 1 “Louis Vuitton” that blew up on Instagram.

Authentic sneakers marked as B-grades in outlet stores have some form of manufacturing defect. When used in the context of an online store or an e-commerce site, it could be a sign that the sneakers are fake, so stay away!

Factory laced
Often used as an alternative to “deadstock”, factory laced sneakers have not been used or worn. These kicks are so untouched that they are laced up exactly the way they were when they left the factory.

Grails are sneakers that are super rare and universally coveted by every sneakerhead. Naturally, this means that grails are often hard to find and cost a pretty penny. The word can also have a different meaning among some sneakerheads, who use it to refer to regular sneakers that represent their style and personality to a T.

GS or grade school is a sizing reference for sneakers made for kids from the ages of 9 to 14.

High top
High tops refer to sneakers with a cut that extends over the ankle. They were originally built to provide additional support when used on the basketball court. However, now we see more causal sneakers made in high top cuts – especially skate shoes.

The opposite of a high top, lows refers to a sneaker that remains under the ankle. This term is generally used to refer to basketball sneakers that have been altered to be a low top sneaker, like the Air Jordan 1 Low.

Mids are generally hated by most of the community. But, most “high” top sneakers are actually mids. They give sufficient support but without being too stiff or uncomfortable. One of the most hated mids are the AJ1 Mids which is worsened if they have the retro colorways.

On Ice
When you say your sneaker is “on ice”, it means the sneaker has yet to be used. Sometimes, it could be a sneaker that you have no plans to use or plan to keep DS for a long time.

Player Edition
These are sneakers that are customized for a specific player. They can be released as a GR or get a very limited release. These variants tend to have a unique take on fan favourite sneakers. We see this a lot in the NBA, with team colors applied to retro sneakers.

Protro or performance retro is a term coined by the late Kobe Bryant. Bryant wanted to bring back his earlier releases but with updates that incorporate the latest in sneaker technology. Protros are meant to be the perfect balance of classic design and performance.

A runner is a sneaker that is built for running or inspired by running shoes. Be careful to distinguish between the two categories, especially if you’re looking for a pair of shoes to actually run in.

These are sneaker prototypes made before a design goes into mass production. There are two kinds of samples – “look see” samples and “wear test” samples. “Look see” samples are US9 sneakers created to give an idea of what the final product would look like. “Wear test” samples are made specifically for performance sneakers, so that players and athletes can test them out.

The flashiest part of a sneaker, the upper is the fabric or leather that sits atop the midsole and outsole. This is where most of the design is. It includes straps, layers of fabrics, and so much more. Anyone remember Jeremy Scott sneakers? Those were some of the craziest uppers ever made.

A nickname for the Nike Air Force 1. In the 1980s, the Air Force 1 was sold mainly in uptown New York: Manhattan and Queens. Other stories suggest that the sneaker was incredibly popular among kids from Harlem and earned its name from its presence in Uptown New York.

Mules are sneakers that have been converted into slides by removing the heel cap and keeping the forefoot closed.

Sneakers labelled as unauthorized are fakes. No matter how it is justified, these sneakers are illegally made and sold.

Sneakers labelled as replica are fakes. No matter how it is justified, these sneakers are illegally made and sold.

New old stock (NOS)
The term new old stock (NOS), refers to old, forgotten sneakers. These kicks are often found in perfect deadstock condition.

Streetwear Community Terms

Streetwear terminology streetwear community highxtar

Black Air Force energy
The triple black Nike Air Force 1 has had a reputation for being associated with crime and other nefarious activities. When someone behaves suspiciously, they are described as having Black Air Force energy.

Short for collaboration, the term collab refers to the sneakers that come out of partnerships between two brands or a brand and a personality. The term collabo is more commonly used in the European context.

If you have a friend who disses a sneaker till they see it in person, and they immediately cop a pair, you can say they flip-flopped. It refers to people whose opinions about sneakers often change drastically. In fact, you should probably place bets on them copping the sneakers they hate on.

These are the sneakerheads who cop sneakers based on their potential for social media ‘likes’. They will make a grab for all the of the hottest sneakers just as they drop, and are open to paying inflated resale prices for them. They are the people who buy into and believe the hype.

They are the biggest contributors to the overpriced resale market we see on sites like StockX. They buy hyped-up sneakers in bulk and resell them at a hefty profit. Depending on your experience, you’ll either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Some sneakerheads have found resellers who open doors to help them cop sneakers that have sold out, while others believe resellers have made certain sneakers way too expensive to add to their rotation.

Red Octobers
Red Octobers are the final Air Yeezy 2 Kanye West released with Nike. The triple red sneaker was heavily leaked before it dropped. Combined with many false drop dates, low production numbers and news of Ye’s departure from Nike to move to Adidas, the Red Octobers remain one of the most coveted kicks ever released.

A blessing for almost all sneakerheads. Restock is a magical occurrence when a retailer gets a new batch of sold-out sneakers. It gives sneakerheads a second chance to cop a sneaker that they previously took an L on. One of the greatest grails that might be getting a restock is the Mars Yard, which you can read about here.

Other Common Sneaker Terminology

jordan 1 og

Image via EU Kicks

Creps is a British slang that refers to sneakers or, as they would call it, trainers.

Double up
To buy two or more pairs of a desirable or popular sneaker – one pair can be worn while the others are kept on ice for special occasions.

In the UK, 110 refers to the Air Max 95 which retailed for £110 when they first dropped in 1995.

G​eneral Release (GR) ​– General release​​, or GR, sneakers are produced in​ ​large volumes for the mass market. In some cases, they may drop in a wide variety of colorways, all at once. ​Given how easy it is to obtain GR sneakers at retail, there is generally no hype behind them​. ​

OG – Original or Original release. This refers to the first release of a shoe (as opposed to a re-release). Taking the Air Jordan 1 as an example, the OG would be the 1985 release.

Retro – When a particular sneaker is re-released, the word “retro” is added to it.

FSR – Full-Size Run. “Footlocker still has an FSR of them Jays!” means that an entire range of sizes is available for a particular sneaker.

LPU – Latest Pick Up. Showing off the latest shoe that a sneakerhead picked up.

SE – Special Edition.

PE – Player Exclusive. Shoes that are made exclusively for an athlete and is not to be released in the market.

Jumpman – This one should be quite clear: Jumpman refers to the Jordan Brand logo – the image of Jordan’s gravity-defying feats on the courts. The Jumpman features on almost all Jordan retros and performance sneakers.

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