Sneakers can speak volumes, both about their owners and the times. In fact, in many countries sneakers are considered cultural artifacts. It’s no surprise that people around the world collect, critique, and obsess about kicks. But the lengths some sneaker fans will go, and then spend, often seems a mystery. Mysteries make us curious, and beg decoding.

Peep Insights recently conducted a global sneaker culture immersion, talking to sneakerheads in key cities like Tokyo, London and Sydney to get an insider’s perspective on trends and attitudes. We got the chance to talk with the owners of some of our favorite sneaker boutiques including Le 9 Bis in Paris and Sole Box in Berlin.

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