The World of Sneaker Reselling

Aurav Kapadia

September 29, 2023

When the average person thinks of sneakers, it’s safe to say a general pair of Puma’s, maybe some Air Force 1’s if you’re feeling fancy, tends to come to mind. But the truth is, there is a market worth over 80 billion dollars for sneakers. Brands like Jordan, Yeezy, Nike, and Adidas release countless models of shoes each year, creating an increasing demand by the general public. The Hypebeast/Streetwear Culture fostering a great love for sneakers combined with social media creating awareness to others produces the sneaker resell market. Where the hype is taken into resellers’ hands to make a profit.

One prominent trend in the sneaker reselling market tends to be the limited-edition and celebrity/designer collaboration sneakers. These releases generate the most buzz out of any other release, resulting in skyrocketing resale prices. After all, if your favorite singer made a shoe, would you not be interested in owning that shoe to represent your loyalty and passion to said singer? Guess what. Resellers know about everyone’s attachments to these certain shoes. And that’s how they make a profit. Take the Travis Scott x Nike Air Jordan 1 High for example, released in 2019 and originally retailing for $175. Only 175 dollars for a pair of shoes made by what many consider to be a Top 10 Artist of all time, seems like a steal right? Dead wrong. This shoe now resells for over $1,800, an apparent example of the hype translating to absurd resell prices. Kanye West, the face of Yeezy, and Virgil Abloh, the creative mastermind behind Off-White collaborating to make a shoe? Initially retailing for $200 now five-folded in price to over $1000 if you wished to grab a pair for the resale price.

Say you’re tired of buying from the sneaker monopolies Nike and Adidas. You’re frustrated with their poor quality control and customer service. Recent market conditions have also seen the rise of niche and independent sneaker brands, catering to collectors seeking unique designs and high-quality craftsmanship. These brands often release limited quantities, further fueling the reselling market’s demand. A wide range of independent sneaker brands include Paris luxury brand Lanvin and their line of “curb” sneakers, known for their unique aspects such as the large padded tongue, and bright, gigantic laces much larger than those of a regular shoe. This unique design may rival even Nike’s sneakers in the resale market because it appeals to so many people. It breaks away from the barriers regular sneakers have set with their 

methodical models remaining the same for decades. A new change welcomed by the sneaker culture.

Analyzing price trends in the sneaker reselling market reveals factors like rarity, brand reputation, and celebrity endorsements significantly impact resale values. Sneakers with limited productions or unique colorways tend to appreciate significantly in value over time. General releases tend to not do as well in the resale market as collaborations simply for the fact that if everyone can access the shoe and nothing is being tied to it, what makes it hype? Additionally, brands that maintain a strong reputation for quality and innovation can command higher resale prices, even for general releases at times. The Nike Air Jordan 1 High Lost and Found is a prime example, being one of the most produced Jordans ever at a staggering half a million set to be available. Half a million pairs available and almost everyone can grab one on the SNKRS app, the perfect opportunity for the shoe to “brick” (stay at or below the retail value in the resale market) because there shouldn’t be any hype for it. After all, if everyone has the shoe, what makes it so special? Well, this is one of the rare cases where a general release shoe does do well in the resale market. Retailing for $180, this Jordan shoe is still thriving today at a 500-dollar resale value in the market.

After one hears about all this information, it is understandable that the perception of sneaker reselling is made out to be simple; the trends are easily identifiable and it isn’t difficult to capitalize off the hype. But it’s important to note that while this market presents opportunities for substantial profits, it also comes with risks and challenges. Fluctuations in consumer preferences, the unpredictability of releases, the influx of the rise of counterfeit products being produced and sold as “real”, and how notoriously difficult it is to purchase a shoe off the SNKRS app, that too a hype one that can potentially maximize your initial investment. Nevertheless, with the right knowledge and strategy, reselling sneakers remains a lucrative venture for those willing to enter its confusing world.