These shoes were made for walking, but that’s not what they’ll do

COLLECTING, hoarding, accumulating or investing — whatever your preference may be, there’s an audience craving that untainted, unused and unworn goodness. Whether it be age-old comics or original movie scripts, there’s value in just about everything. However, would you buy sneakers with the sole purpose of leaving them box-fresh, until materials inevitably deteriorate?

Purchasing sneakers to store and wear later, perhaps not at all, is not something to be newly introduced. Material goods have always been coveted assets to show off, anything from jewellery to exotic pets represent wealth and stature in the eye of the beholder– and let me tell you, sneakers are no different.

A very alien concept to many, but there’s a market for even the most obscure item. Would you consider pumping the average person’s annual income into something that’ll inevitably fall victim to a muddy puddle? As I said, alien, if I were to suggest the above, you’d look at me as if I were speaking a foreign language — or insulted your mother.

Maybe not to this extent, but I could see myself forking out a fortnight’s wages to supplement footwear I’d fantasised about for months. It’s no different to collecting stamps or even movie memorabilia, a form of ‘filling the void’ that requires monetary assets. There are social media groups specifically designed to aid the growth of this specialist culture.

I keep mentioning money, so let me provide example. StockX, an online, US based third-party company who assist sneaker sales, stock just about every brand, model and colourway imaginable.

You thought I was joking, didn’t you…

There are individuals, companies and organisations who pay a premium to obtain overly popular or limited pairs ahead of their official release date– they then sell onto the general public at an evermore premium price. Who is actually paying these prices? Well, for an American 16-year-old, he seems to know exactly where his market lies.

In 2016, Forbes contributor, Tim Levin, interviewed Benjamin Kapelushnik: a.k.a ‘The Sneaker Don’. In a market worth an estimated $1 billion, he managed to rack up six-figures in profit alone through his website and 5,000 pair inventory.

Regular customers range from the general public, to sportsman Odell Beckham Jr. and even award winner, DJ Khaled. This consumer-base may come as no surprise, when considering his minimum profit percentage is capped at 40%. Shown above, in many cases profit percentage can exceed 1000%.

His position within the industry, the successful networking and connections gained through high-profile clientele and somewhat lavish lifestyle, are all contributing factors that lead to a (now) 19-year-old millionaire, who controls one of the most profitable, fast paced markets in the US. He, to some extent, can dictate trends and popularity of certain products.

All of this, and he cannot legally consume alcohol. Let that sink in.

Clearly, there is more to the world of luxury footwear than initially meets the eye. I assume it’s similar to the back-areas of the aforementioned social groups including, comic-book collectors, private jewellers and film prop hoarders. There are the basic collectables– for example, the standard shop floor product– and there are far rarer, sought after city exclusives, worth ten-fold of that easily accessible.

Something unknown to the ‘outside world’, two, perhaps three times a year London hosts a convention devoted solely to the fetish. Unsurprisingly, this is far from limited to the city — the resell of sneakers is a constantly growing aspect of the culture, if anything it aids the growth. ‘Sneaker Don’ isn’t the first to make a million from this profitable industry, and certainly won’t be the last. We should celebrate, not only the afterthought of recognition, but our growing community.

The culture isn’t dead.

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