Sneaker as an investment: 5 factors that distinguish collectibles from general releases

Sneaker as an investment: 5 factors that make a difference

In the meantime, even the last collector of soles from every village, no matter how small, knows that you can earn good money with sneakers. Buy for around 100 euros and sell for ten times as much on the same day? Not even the most promising stocks, bitcoins or real estate can do that. Models by Kanye West, Michael Jordan or Travis Scott are traded more hotly than gold or luxury watches.

But how do you recognize an expensive sneaker? Which release has the potential to finance the next vacation? Apart from the fact that you can watch the prices on sites like StockX and that pure reselling is not exactly popular, we still want to help you today. We tell you what things are to consider when investing in sneakers - and how sneakers work as an investment. (By the way, you can also find other exciting sneaker releases that you shouldn’t miss here in the GQ trend radar.)

Factor #1: Who designed the sneaker?

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Of course, the sneaker industry follows a similar path as the high fashion or streetwear scene. Designers change fashion houses and are traded like a soccer transfer. When a brand signs a Raf Simons, Kim Jones or even Virgil Abloh, you can be sure that people will buy said pieces just because of that.

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And it's similar with the sportswear brands and their sneakers. If a Kiko Kostadinov or Rei Kawakubo commissions a specific design for a brand like Nike or Asics and ideally also stands for it with their own name, you can be sure: this sneaker will be sold out quickly. Of course, you still don't have a guarantee that you'll make big bucks with the release. There are other factors that drive up the price.

Factor #2: Who wore the sneaker?

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In order to create real hype, it is important that the community is already hot before the release. Adidas shared a blueprint for product launches in 2016, courtesy of Kanye West. At his Super Bowl appearance and other media-savvy gigs, he wore models such as the Adidas NMD, Pure Boost, Ultra Boost and of course Yeezy Boost.

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The pictures ended up on the internet and the forums freaked out. This also happened with the Karhu sneaker, in which West was only spotted once. The sneaker, which previously went on sale for 30 euros, was bought from all shops on the same day and increased its own value tenfold overnight. If a celebrity wears your sneaker at the right moment, you can be sure that the reach will be enough to increase the value of your sneaker too.

Factor #3: Is it a collab sneaker?

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Collaborations have been a popular tool for brands for decades to generate hype, test new models and offer small and large partners an appropriate stage. But a collaboration does not automatically make a shoe valuable. Above all, you are asked to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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A collaboration with an established artist, musician or shop has a different status than a cooperation with an unknown shop or an actor from outside the industry, such as Michael Michalsky with Pony or, unfortunately, the most recent collaborations between Nike and Kim Jones. Here it is important to know the relevance of the actors for the respective scene and then to weigh them up against the other factors on this list. What has proven to be extremely profitable, however, are collabs with brands from outside the industry. Partners such as Ben & Jerry's, Playstation and BVG have all launched sneakers that retail for well over 1,000 euros. Similar to the designers, it is also important to have the right feeling and to observe the release in advance.

Factor #4: Are there scandals?

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The principle of the Jordan 1 Banned still works today. As soon as a product is withdrawn from the market, associated with a scandal or causes controversy, there is an immense amount of news about it. Due to the high visibility in selected media and the hint of the "forbidden", such products are usually traded for a multiple of their original price after they leave the market. The list of such products is growing every year.

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In 2021, Lil Nas X made headlines with a Nike Air Max 97 made with real human blood and resell prices well below 2,000 euros. The hype even went so far that pro-skater legend Tony Hawk emulated the idea and released skate decks with real blood. This, in turn, prompted Lil Nas X to make his famous “Nah he tweakin” comment, which is now being distributed worldwide as a meme by millions of users in the comment columns. Scandal or controversy goes hand in hand with current pop culture and internet meme humor. Anyone who is close to the ravages of time and is at the right moment and in the right Reddit thread can anticipate such hypes and recognize and participate in revolutions, such as in Gamestop stocks, at an early stage.

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Factor #5: What is the story?

Probably the most important and at the same time most emotional indicator for the increase in value of a sneaker is the story that is spun around the release. Good storytelling is characterized by an authentic and unique narrative style. A release that brings the necessary story and shows cross-references to the store/designer cannot be copied by anyone else in this form.

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Whereas a quick strike at Nike is sometimes just an arbitrary colourway, some collaborations are an emotional climax for the entire community simply because of the way they are told. Partners such as the Afew Store or Overkill perfected this discipline and created successful projects with sneakers such as the Asics Gel-Lyte III “Koi” or the Adidas “Taxi”, which brought a personal touch and thus enjoyed immense importance in their own community . Anyone who is part of a community and deals with the people, the culture and the stories of the respective stores will quickly notice which release will hype. And even if the sneaker doesn't work as an investment, you own a beautiful shoe with a unique story.

You can read more about sneakers here:

Absolute must-haves: 5 good reasons why you should wear sneakers

Best Yeezy Sneaker: These are the most hyped silhouettes from Adidas

Olympia 2021 in Tokyo: These 5 releases were specially designed for the Olympic Games

Music meets sneakers: The 5 best collaborations with rappers

Jeremy Scott x Adidas: These are the 5 craziest sneaker models