Movies about superhero and supervillain origin stories are a dime a dozen, but there aren’t a lot of movies like Air (2023)—a film about the origin of a shoe.
Released just this month (Apr 2023), the acclaimed film follows Nike reps as they pursue then NBA rookie player, Michael Jordan, to strike a business deal. The result: Nike’s Air Jordan sneaker line, which went on to blow all sales expectations out of the window in the 80s when it made $126 million in 1 year against its anticipated $3 million in 3 years.
Sneakers are a big deal. They aren’t just sportswear or fashion statements, but are also major pop and street culture phenomenons that both drive and get driven by sneakerhead culture. That’s why Singapore’s ArtScience Museum has dedicated 5 months to their Sneakertopia exhibition (ongoing till 30 Jul 2023), why Air (2023) the movie shot and scored, and why sneakers have proven to be worthy investment tools amidst the booming sneaker resale market.
But these are shoes for heaven’s sakes. How profitable can investing in sneakers really be? And if they really are good investments, how do I get started? Here’s our guide to investing in sneakers and how to flip exclusive models for a sizeable chunk of cash.
Can you really make money by reselling sneakers?
What makes an investment grade pair of sneakers?
The return on investment (ROI) of sneakers
Are luxury sneakers good investments?
How to start investing in sneakers
1. Can you really make money by reselling sneakers?
When people flip sneakers, what they are really doing is buying exclusive models at retail price, waiting until the supply of the shoes dwindles, and then reselling them (again usually online) at a much higher price.
Alternatively, pro sneaker investors know which shoes have such high celebrity power and legacy that they can be bought at retail price in the hundreds, and then re-sold almost immediately on sites like eBay in the thousands. If you’re reading this article on how to get started investing in sneakers, this probably isn’t something you should hedge your bets on being able to do.
Even if you opt for the first option, where you buy some kicks and wait a while for the price to spike, you can’t just choose any old sneakers that suit your fancy. This is true even if they’re labelled as “branded”. That’s because not every sneaker brand has high investment value, and not every shoeline within a brand is profitable.
So yes, you can make a tidy profit from reselling sneakers. But you have to know how to pick them, which is what we’re going into next.
A post shared by Sneaker Space (@sneakerspace) on May 2, 2019 at 9:22am PDT
2. What makes an investment grade pair of sneakers?
In order to successfully invest in sneakers, you will need to keep abreast of the latest sneaker trends and keep tabs on release dates so you can grab limited shoes once they’re released.
Just as stock investors need to stay updated on business news and current affairs, sneaker investors need to read sneaker news on a daily basis. So get ready to bookmark websites like Hypebeast’s Footwear page, SneakerNews, HighSnobiety’s Sneakers section and KicksOnFire. These sites will help you keep tabs on sneaker release dates and prices, so you can plan ahead of time what shoes to buy.
When it comes time to place your orders, this can normally be done directly at the brands’ individual websites.
While you hear the occasional success story of a $200 pair of sneakers being resold for $5,000, the fact is that it is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy whether a sneaker’s resale price will soar. A model being limited edition is not enough to guarantee a huge rise in price. A lot will depend on future fashion trends and the individual design of the sneakers.
In addition, fashion is fickle, and a sneaker’s resale value might spike for a while, only to crash when it goes out of style.
That being said, the following traits will raise your chances of being able to successfully flip a pair of sneakers:
Limited edition: You want to look for sneakers whose demand outstrips supply. This is obviously easier to achieve if there is a limited supply of the sneakers being sold in the first place. So look out for limited edition models as well as collaborations with celebrities and designers. A great example of this is the Vans Era 95 DX Fear of God White Black trainer, which was a collaboration between Vans and Fear of God. While the average increase on investment for the brand as a whole is 221.8% (already very high!), their Fear of God collaboration earned a 1339% increase, selling for US$945 over an original retail price of US$65.
Lots of hype: Low supply is just one part of the equation. There needs to be high demand, too, in order to push up a sneaker’s value. If you follow sneaker blogs and brand websites, you should get a good idea of which sneakers are being hyped and anticipated. Also, check out what the influencers are peddling as it indicates which products are being pushed most aggressively by brands.
High ratings: Check out websites like SneakerNews and KicksOnFire for shoe ratings. The more highly rated shoes tend to sell well. Having said that, don’t base your investment decision on this category alone—sneakers that are highly rated for being affordable and comfortable may be worth your dollar as footwear, but not worth your money as an investment tool.
Colour: It seems like in the world of sneaker investment, black will always be the new black. According to a Money.co.uk study, black sneakers had the highest return on investment (ROI) at 614.8%, followed by white (558%) and red (503%).
3. The return on investment (ROI) of sneakers
The ROI varies from sneaker to sneaker. You might hear wildly successful investment stories, but these are usually due to several factors:
The sneaker is an original, and is now selling as a vintage piece. One example is the Jordan 1 OG Chicago. This shoe sold for an original retail price of US$47 in 1985, but you can now find it going for US$30,000 on StockX.
The sneaker was a limited edition. The Nike Dunk High Pro SB Supreme Blue Stars originally retailed at US$55, but in the past year has sold for US$7,219 – US$12,781 on StockX.
Let’s be realistic. These crazy high returns are the exception, not the norm. For a beginner sneaker investor, a profit of about 60 to 100 USD per pair is decent. Here are some models that you might be able to get such a ROI on:
Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 Low White: According to Business Insider, this pair original retailed at US$96 in Mar 2020, and now goes for over US$150 on the resale market.
Adidas Yeezy Slide “Bone”: These don’t even look like sneakers to me, but they resell for a pretty penny. The Adidas Yeezy Slide “Bone” originally cost US$55 during its first release in 2019, and then US$60 in a May 2022 re-release. As of 18 Apr 2022, its sold for up to $367 on StockX in the past 12 months and sells for up to $360+ on eBay.
Air Jordan 4 Retro “Military Black”: Released in May 2022 for US$210, these kicks have sold for US$201 – US$918 in the past 12 months on StockX. On eBay as of 18 Apr 2023, they’re going for up to $430.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OGs: According to Richard Xia, CEO and cofounder of sneaker marketplace Novelship, these are worth investing in as they tend to hold their price and likely increase. The Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Patent Bred edition sold at US$170 when it was released in Dec 2021, and was last sold at US$265 on StockX. On eBay, it can go for as high as US$935.
4. Are luxury sneakers good investments?
Luxury grands like Gucci, Balenciaga, and Dior are jumping on the sneaker bandwagon, launching luxury kicks which cost in the thousands.
Designer sneakers can indeed have investment value, especially if they have a very limited release or are collaborations. However, as with all types of investments, you need to do research on the brand and the particular release to predict if the shoe will trend later on.
As luxury sneakers are quite expensive, it’s better not to start investing or flipping sneakers by buying shoes in this category. For instance, the Balenciaga Triple S sneakers cost US$795 when they dropped in 2017, and as of 18 Apr 2023 are going anywhere from $500 to $1,600 on StockX. Yeah, you might make a nice profit, but that’s only if you have your hands on a model that can sell on the higher end of that range. Overall, it’s quite a heavy and risky investment that you may only break even on, if not make a loss.
5. How to start investing in sneakers
Before slapping a price tag on your sneakers and deciding if it’s the right time to get rid of them, you’ll need to do some price research. Check websites sneaker flippers use, including Stadium Goods, StockX and Fight Club, to decide what a reasonable price range would be.
At the same time, you should be keeping up with the latest sneaker news and participating in sneaker communities so you can get tip-offs when good opportunities to sell arise.
When it comes to actually selling the shoes, sure, you could try to sell your sneakers on Carousell, but if you really want to take advantage of high demand, sell them on the international market using eBay, Stadium Goods, StockX, Fight Club and similar websites.
Start small until you are more comfortable and are turning a regular profit before spending larger sums and buying in greater quantities.
Another thing you should learn is to avoid fakes. Read online guides that help you identify fakes for the type of sneaker you’re buying. The Real Real has guides that can help you sniff out the fakes from the authentic models—not just for sneakers, but also other items such as luxury watches.
You should also learn how to care for the sneakers so they stay in mint condition. Singapore’s hot and humid weather can be disastrous for sneakers, so you’ll need to invest in dehumidifiers, if you intend to hold sneaker stocks.
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