Sneakers aren’t just for sneakerheads any more. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago you’d need an encyclopedic knowledge to get ahead in the collecting game, nowadays it’s easier than ever to get your hands on high-demand kicks which sell for even higher prices. That’s why it’s no surprise that sneaker reselling, once a niche market for trainer obsessives, has boomed into a full-on cottage industry.
The rise of marketplace apps like StockX and GOAT, alongside the proliferation of social media sites where you’re just one DM away from turning a rare pair of trainers into cash, mean that more people are selling their shoes than ever before. The global sneaker resale market has been valued at over $1 billion, while the right pair of kicks can go for £5,000 cash (or more) at UK-based sneaker havens like Crepe City.
There’s a big pile of money lying at your feet, but how to take the first step to claiming it? Don’t worry, we – along with some of the industry’s major players – have got you covered.
How Do You Start Sneaker Reselling?
Not with your trusty Chuck Taylors, unfortunately. Or even your Balenciaga Triple S. If you want to get your head around the world of reselling sneakers, you need to know about limited releases – that’s when the big trainer companies only release a select number of their newest, most hyped sneakers (think the Nike Jordan collabs, or the new Adidas Yeezys).
Collectors know the biggest sneaker trends, join mailing lists, download apps and queue up at sneaker stores. Those who manage to blag themselves a pair will either keep them to wear, sell them immediately, or keep them in mint condition, often with an eye to selling at a later date when their value has increased exponentially.
The people who resell in-demand models immediately will often do so for a 200-300 per cent markup – they’ll buy them for £150-£200, and sell them for £400 or more. But then there are the resellers who hold onto – or, if they’re lucky, come across – an older limited release (think ’90s Air Jordans in classic colourways, or the original Nike Yeezys).
In this instance, fewer unworn pairs exist, meaning the resale price only goes up. Simple economics. These second-hand shoes will sell for more than second-hand cars.
If all of that sounds like nonsense, here’s some good news: you don’t actually have to be a sneakerhead to make it big in the game. “Shoes are seen as a commodity now,” says Crepe City founder Ron Raichura. “You’ve got people who used to be ticket touts buying shoes, because the market is so big.”
And while going full tout might earn you the ire of the sneakerhead community, a little bit of research will definitely help ingratiate yourself with the people you’re buying from and selling to. “You need to do a bit of research. Know what you’re buying, and where you should sell it.”
Online marketplace StockX is a good place to start – their ‘market watch’ function will allow you to track, stock exchange-style, which shoes are worth your valuable time and money. “You can see the demand which is already existing for these products before they’re released,” says Derek Morrison, director of Europe at StockX. “If people are buying pairs early for way above retail, it’s pretty obvious there’s going to be money to be made off that shoe.”
For the more knowledgeable collectors, reselling sneakers is a career in itself – and it pays well. “You can make a living reselling sneakers,” says Jasmin Miller, spokesperson for sneaker resale app GOAT. “In 2017, our top sellers each sold more than $2 million in sneakers. At the end of 2018, those same top sellers had each sold more than $10 million in sneakers overall. There’s a huge market looking to buy sneakers, and it’s only growing.”
Sneaker Reselling Tips From The Pros
Now that Google has made every thrift shop attendant into a sneaker aficionado, you’re highly unlikely to find a pair of vintage Air Jordans in your local charity shop bargain bin. That means, for the novice reseller, new releases are your best bet.
“Every other week there’s a pair of shoes coming out which you can make £30-£50 on,” Morrison says. “Or you can buy several pairs, sit on them for a few months, and they’ll probably be worth even more.” If you want to make real money, though, you’ll have to put the effort in.
“There are at least a handful of shoes throughout the year which will immediately go for 5-10 times the retail value of the shoe, and quite a lot more which will go for a 3-5 times markup. Those are usually the ones where you have to enter raffles, or camp out for the weekend. If you get your hands on them, though, it’s like winning a lottery ticket.”
Sam Kersh, aka @sneakersocialite, is one of Instagram’s OG sneaker resellers, with over 150,000 followers – so his advice is worth listening to. “You can find rare sneakers in all sorts of ways: general releases, resellers, suppliers in the industry and friends’ events,” he says. As for how he makes his living, it’s all about using the tools already at your disposal: “I mostly use Instagram, eBay, and Facebook groups to sell stock,” he says.
If your follower count is lacking, reselling apps like StockX and GOAT will give you an easy way of getting your product out there (as long as it’s something people want to buy). “It’s all about keeping an eye on the market and knowing what’s desirable,” Morrison says. “For example, I know that there are shoes from nine years ago that Kaws did with Nike which are now going for £1,000. And we see stuff go for £5,000-£10,000 every week.”
In terms of when to sell your most prized pairs, it might be worth holding out – limited releases from the best sneaker brands tend to only get more profitable with age, thanks to the scarcity of unworn pairs on the market. Because of this, you can even take the gamble and buy trainers at their immediate resale value, with an eye to ‘flipping’ them again a year or so later.
“Sometimes the best deal is after they’ve already sold out,” Morrison explains. “There are shoes from last year which are worth 150 per cent more than their resale value on StockX the day after they were released.”
The Best Sneaker Reselling Sites
The aesthetically-pleasing online marketplace runs a tight ship, where all sneakers sold through the platform are authenticated by machine learning and human expertise.
GOAT’s rivals set themselves apart with an analytical approach to the buying and selling game, featuring constantly updated market values and loss or gain on items.
The stalwart brand run a heavily populated (and heavily-regulated) Facebook group for buyers and sellers, as well as regular resale events – check online for the next event.
The community marketplace for menswear enthusiasts doesn’t only focus on trainers, meaning you can spend your hard-earned cash on pre-owned Gucci and Supreme.
Another reliable marketplace app, set up by the shoe impresarios behind British retailer The Sole Supplier. For the newbies, that means they know a thing or two about trainers.
If all of the above sounds like a little too much effort, Kick Game will analyse and price your shoes for you in exchange for 20% of the profit.
The Best Shoes To Sell Right Now
Nike Air MAG Back to the Future
Anyone in the sneaker community will tell you these are the most coveted kicks out there. “Only 89 pairs were ever made,” Miller says. “That rarity and nostalgia comes with higher price tag. A pair have sold on GOAT for $45,000.”
Sells for: £20,000-£40,000
Nike Dunk SB Paris
“They’re obscure,” says Raichura of the second-most expensive shoes on our list. “There were only ever 202 pairs in existence, so it’s basically impossible to find a brand new pair in your size nowadays.”
Sells for: £10,000-£20,000
Adidas Human Race NMD Pharrell x Chanel
The collaboration was done exclusively for Colette, a shop in Paris described by some as as ‘the trendiest store in the world’. “It closed about a year-and-a-half ago,” Morrison says. Now the price tag makes a little more sense.
Sells for: £6,000-£10,000
Nike Yeezy Red October
Kanye’s final collaboration with Nike is ludicrously in-demand. “It’s almost like people have forgotten he made them, because he moved to Adidas soon after,” says Raichura. “I actually sold a pair myself, for £6,000, which is crazy.”
Sells for: £4,500-£6,000
Nike Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White
“Anything around Off-White and Virgil Abloh is a safe bet right now,” Derek says, of the designer du jour for everyone from Justin Bieber to A$AP Rocky. “Every single pair he’s released in the last 12 months has absolutely skyrocketed.”
Sells for: £1,700-£2,000
Nike Jordan 1 Retro High Travis Scott
The biggest new shoe of 2019, the limited release started when Travis Scott played the Grammys and sold out instantly. “Resale value pre-release is already hitting £1,600, so if you’re able to cop for retail you’ll make some serious profit,” says Kersh.
Sells for: £1,600+
Nike Air Fear of God
One of Morrison’s current favourites: “You have people who do collaborations on the iconic existing silhouettes, but this one is interesting because Nike and Jerry Lorenzo actually created an entirely new silhouette.”
Sells for: £600-£1,000
Nike Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 1/97
“The price seems to be going up week by week,” Raichura says. “Last summer they were selling for £400, now they’re selling for over £800. I think it’s because everyone was expecting to have a re-released this month, which hasn’t happened.”
Sells for: £600-£900