Would you spend $1,200 on a pair of sneakers that retail at less than $200?
That’s what 22-year-old Geoffrey Chew did in Nov 2019 when he bought a pair of Travis Scott Jordan 1 Lows. The price of the sneakers skyrocketed in the hands of resellers due to the popularity of American rapper Travis Scott and their limited availability.
Sneakers that command the highest resale prices are usually collections that feature popular celebrities and brands. The colour and size of the shoes matter too – the rarer, the pricier. Certain shoes like the Air Jordan 1 also have a cult following due to its rich history, with the model specifically designed for basketball legend Michael Jordan.
In fact, some collections can fetch up to a five-figure sum. For example, the Nike MAG ‘Back to the Future’ shoes, a replica of the self-lacing shoes seen in Back to the Future II, was last sold for USD$50,000 on sneaker reselling platform Stockx. The crazy price tag is largely attributed to the rarity of the shoes, with only 89 pairs available during the 2016 release. They are also the first pair of rechargeable footwear from Nike.
When asked why he’s willing to pay the inflated prices, Geoffrey says: “It’s a flex to have something that nobody else has.”
Flexing is the act of flaunting and showing off wealth, usually with expensive and exclusive items. In a bid to flex, Geoffrey had spent approximately $7,000 on six pairs of overpriced sneakers in the past two years, until he came to realise that the market is often heavily manipulated, with the supply artificially limited to drive up prices. That’s when he decided to “quit the hype game to spend money on things that [he] genuinely like[s]”.
“Flexing”, however, is not the only reason people are willing to pay high resale prices for sneakers. For Gareth Wong, 19, it’s about “the community and the people you meet”.
“The sneaker reselling culture can be a little toxic at times, but there are also tons of support from the community who are willing to share their knowledge and help you out. I’ve made really good friends,” says Gareth.
The Tourism & Resort Management student shares that he currently has 75 pairs of shoes, including the highly coveted Nike SB Dunk High Papa Bear, and several early 2000s Nike releases. He shares that he also does reselling on the side to fund his personal purchases although that’s not his main priority.
“I make about $70 to $700 a month reselling, though it really depends on the shoes that are released that month and the deals that I come across. The most I’ve sold a pair of shoes for is $800 for the Off White x Nike Air Max 97,” he shares.
At 17 years old, Kelvin Suey, who has been in the sneaker resale business for approximately a year, says he’s already making about $1,000 to $2,000 a month reselling the shoes he acquired using the above methods.
“Sneaker reselling is way tougher than you might think. It’s very competitive, so you have to constantly be on the lookout for the latest drops and ways to get them,” he shares.
“It is definitely becoming a trend now. The market is also very saturated with resellers, so it’s definitely not as easy to sell and buy now as compared to a couple of years ago,” Gareth adds.
While the competition has become keener, the pie is also set to grow bigger, according to investment bank Cowen & Co, which projects that the global sneaker resale market will be worth US$6 billion industry by 2025.
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