Are Sneakers the Next Alternative Asset Class?
- by: Hank Berkowitz
- January 16, 2017
Heat, deadstock, NIB’s and beaters. If your teenage sons or grandsons are throwing around this slang and avoiding eye contact with you, don’t be alarmed. They’re not referring to drugs, cults or punk rock groups. Most likely, they’re checking out your shoes.
As Saturday’s New York Times explained in detail, resellers of limited edition collectible sneakers generate $1.5 billion worth of sales in the U.S. alone. Much of that total is driven by a legal underground army of re-sellers called “sneakerheads” who camp out overnight or who create fast-bidding software programs (“bots”) to snag new releases of rare models from big sneaker brands. Since many of those high end “kicks” are sold in limited quantities, many sneakerheads quickly resell those shoes on eBay or reseller sites for a substantial profit. Rather than fighting the re-sellers, the major shoe brands have learned to use sneakerheads to create a buzz around their pre-release marketing strategies.
There’s even a stock exchange for sneakers called StockX co-founded by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Josh Luber, where shoe prices rise and fall like shares of publicly traded companies.
In fact, if you visit Stock X, you’ll see a scrolling ticker with abbreviated shoe model acronyms followed by dollar signs…sound familiar? We’ll get to the Cleveland connection in just a minute, but note that Bloomberg devoted an entire podcast last month to the subject–What Sneakers Can Tell You About How Financial Markets Work.
What’s more, sites like and let you check prices or get appraisals and verify that a pair of vintage sneaks you’re interested in are actually legit. It’s just a matter of time before the government creates a FINRA or SEC to regulate the sneaker reseller market.
When the bidding war for these coveted limited edition kicks ends on Thursday, it will cost you an estimated $3,000 to $25,000 PER PAIR to get a piece of the sneaker world’s latest “initial public offering.”
As long as he’s not getting ripped off—or ripping people off—and keeping his grades up, then the entrepreneurial lessons that he’s learning from his hobby should last him a lifetime.
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