LIFESTYLE

Sneakers Never Looked So Good

Step into the world of Sneakerheads and discover how seemingly ordinary footwear has become an extraordinary trend of wearable art, prized collections and big business.

04.25.2019

Sneakers Never Looked So Good

By Anthony D. Amante,
Inside Sales Manager,
Franklin Templeton Investments Canada

“You paid HOW MUCH for those?” It’s a familiar question for anyone passionate about collecting footwear linked to basketball, skateboarding or a specific musical artist. Answering with pride is all part of being a sneakerhead. For aficionados, collecting sneakers is much like collecting fine art such as paintings or sculptures, but with an important distinction. A sneakerhead wears pieces from their collection, not only as a source of self-expression, but as a way of appreciating the art and creativity behind the sneakers’ design. Sneakerheads, who tend to be Gen Xers and Millennials, value connecting physically and emotionally with an athletic hero, or pop culture icon by owning shoes that represent a star’s achievement or capture a nostalgic moment in time. Celebrities like Spike Lee, Jerry Seinfeld, Mark Wahlberg, Drake, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West are some of the significant high-profile collectors.

What emerged as a subculture in the late 1980s—originating in the worlds of basketball and hip-hop music—is now a widespread trend. With familiar superstars like Michael Jordan, Roger Federer and Derek Jeter linked to specific sneakers, it’s not surprising that athletic wear has wound its way into pop culture and onto high fashion runways. Given the ever-growing influence of social media and the marketing smarts of major companies like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, sneakerhead culture has evolved into an extremely profitable business.

“What emerged as a subculture in the late 1980s…is now a widespread trend.”

While such familiar brands continue to benefit from the growing trend, the secondary market for famous sneakers is attracting considerable attention with a current, estimated value of nearly a billion dollars.1 In this space, young entrepreneurs look to either buy/sell/consign or further customize footwear for future sale, using social media and online platforms to full advantage. With some select resale shoes, originally priced at $200 USD, now commanding $10,000 USD,2 it’s easy to see how the profit margins can be enticing. Looking to leverage sneakerheads’ willingness to spend significant sums of money, firms like “Flight Club” and “RIF” are operating profitable brick-and-mortar storefronts.

Social- media-savvy companies like GOAT and StockX are providing online platforms for buyers and sellers worldwide. In addition, lower profile companies like Jason Markk are flourishing by introducing niche products and services such as a premium shoe cleaner—to help sneakerheads preserve their prized possessions—and the world’s first drop-off sneaker cleaning service in Los Angeles.3

As large retailers bring new technology and ideas to life and sneakerheads’ appetite for exclusive footwear grows, the market is sure to expand and evolve. However, for the true sneakerhead, it’s about far more than a shopping spree and price tags. For me, it’s about the nostalgia, appreciation and esthetic tied up in each pair.


 

 

NOTES:

1. Jordan Lebeau, “The Beginner’s Guide to Sneaker Collecting,” Forbes, July 25, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanlebeau/2017/07/25/the-beginners-guide-to-sneaker-collecting-for-old-people/#6da357041c25.
2.“10 of the Most Stupidly Expensive Sneakers Ever,” Sneaker Freaker, October 17, 2018, https://www.sneakerfreaker.com/articles/10-of-the-most-stupidly-expensive-sneakers-ever.
3.“About Jason Markk Premium Shoe Care,” https://jasonmarkk.com/about.

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