The Phenomenon of Sneaker Mania

Working on a project in the shoe industry recently piqued my interest in the world of “Sneakerheads”. Sneakerheads is a community of people who are passionate about collecting, trading and admiring sneakers. Made famous by the documentary “Do It With Sole, Sneakerheadz”, the group have become a phenomenon, developing a lucrative and growing market.

These footwear fanatics from around the globe are united by the desire to buy, wear and collect hard-to-find and limited-edition styles such as the Air Jordan 3 “Black Cement”, “Yeezy Boost 350” and much more.

What amazes me are the lengths Sneakerheads will go to for that one shoe – it doesn’t even have to be the right fit. There is no way to miss out on an exclusive limited edition shoe even if it means camping out overnight to buy that rare pair of kicks. The origins of this group and their evolution in recent years are truly fascinating. Many spend a great deal of time and money studying the footwear category and its heritage while building up valuable collections.

When we look back, Sneakerheads have been around since brands began associating with athletes for a particular style of shoe. The area of collecting started with the first Jordan shoe in 1984 and when Nike was re-issuing the “retro” Jordans, the game for collecting sneakers was on.

The advent of the Internet added a whole other dimension to the world of Sneakerheads. A new online community meant that isolated collectors could now connect with each other. Opinions could be shared about favourite shoes, as well as rumours about releases and special products across time zones and continents. Internet platforms such as eBay changed the landscape dramatically. Now it is possible for the community to buy and sell their favourite sneakers. Rare styles began selling for multiples of their original retail value. Prices escalated, retailers took notice and brands began to understand a new marketplace had been born.

Having identified this dedicated niche, brands responded with collaborations with artists, musicians, and celebrities to create and design new limited editions. Exclusive releases brought hype and credibility with tastemakers driving the marketing for the brands they love. These exclusive collaborations are highly desirable in the Sneakerheads’ world and have created yet another market for collectors.

The transition from a collector’s “hobby” to a profitable business has been quick, creating employment, speculators, and hardcore investors looking for quick returns on “blue chip” sneakers.

One particular Sneakerhead, Josh Luber has conducted millions of sneaker transactions on eBay and has analyzed the return of investing in various sneaker models. He has created a unique stock exchange market for sneakers and other goods called StockX. That’s right – a stock market for shoes! He wants to make the price of exclusive sneakers as transparent as equities on a stock exchange.

So if you’ve been thinking of investing in the stock market-of-things lately? Seems like sneakers might be a great investment to look into in the future.

By Luisa Groschopp, Account Manager

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