By Matt Kyte
I love resellers. There I’ve said it. I didn’t think I’d ever utter those words, but let me explain why I’ve come to this conclusion. Rewind seven or so years ago, and the whole sneaker craze was really starting to go mainstream. Sneakers were making the news. Collaborations seemed to outnumber general releases and it was getting pretty hard to keep up with who was colabing with who. The internet was creaky, e-commerce a novelty and as a result, Hanon’s notoriously slow servers on release day would drive you mental. As a back up plan, there were always mates on the other side of the world ready to hook you up. Sneaker Freaker was doing weird shit on models you didn’t know existed but they were sold local so you’d grab them easily enough. Basically, if you wanted the latest and greatest it required a bit of effort but you’d be able to track them down nine times out of ten.
Fast forward to 2013 and you’ve got pretty much ZERO chance of getting anything with even a semblance of hoopla surrounding them. Crooked Tongues ads somehow pop up in your Youtubes and Sneaker Freaker’s own Tassie Devils were faked before they were released. Infrared Air Maxes have been retro’d thrice already. What the hell happened?
The explanation is lengthy but to bring it down to basics, there’s been an exponential increase in the sheer number of kids that are chasing down these special edition (or whatever you choose to call them) sneakers. Whereas you might have been battling it out with 100 other people for shoes in 2005, it’s now more like 10,000. Whilst the production numbers of special editions have increased across the board from an average of roughly 300 to around 1000 pairs (according to insider industry gossip), the huge growth in demand has outstripped supply by a long way.
With everybody climbing on the sneaker bandwagon comes the influx of mad money. You might want a shoe badly, but the dude driving his BMW M3 to work at an internet start-up wants them just as bad. And he’s got a wallet that’s fatter than Ricky May and talks louder than yours. Enter the reseller.
To be honest, it’s nothing new. We’ve all done it and many of us still do sell a few pairs here and there. It takes a lot of money (and space) to buy and never move something on. The difference is that now more than ever, people are prepared to pay ever-increasing prices for shoes. If you’d have told me five years ago that people would be reselling shoes for more than $700 on the regular, I’d call bullshit. Sure they existed then, but not in the way they do in the last 18 months.
Now we have a situation where the people who have the most amount of time on their hands (usually the pre-23 age bracket) are basically controlling the sneaker resale market. It really is quite amazing what some of these often-teenaged kids can achieve. There have been a few news articles centered on the topic which have profiled some of the big guns and I tip my hat to them. End of the day they’re hustling for a living, not to mention making more money than me in a week. They’re also as much at the mercy of the sneaker market as any of us. Job security is not a guarantee.
The huge increase in the resale market for colabs has meant that they’re now virtually unattainable, unless you’re prepared to navigate your way through the shit-storm that is release day. I’m too old and jaded to queue overnight anymore. This has pushed me – albeit unwillingly – to move away from my beloved New Balance UK and USA-made models, something that I have dedicated a good chunk of my life to collecting. Obviously there’s things I still pick up if I can, but most of the shoes have been catapulted into a stratosphere
of incomprehensible worth.
Every action has a reaction. I’m back to the point where I’m searching for and grabbing things I’ve never really considered before. In a quest to try and get something a bit different to the cookie cutter kids who now wear something I’d have freaked over (and sometimes still do), I’m going left field. I like my new direction and it’s quite reminiscent of when I was first getting into New Balance because I didn’t want Nikes like everyone else. I’m looking at ACG oddities and runners that were forgotten as soon as the ‘next new thing’ came out. It also means brands like Le Coq Sportif and Saucony are finally getting some love after being left in the ‘maybe next time’ category.
So thank you resellers. Thanks for pushing me out of my comfort zone and into some weirder and weirder shit. Thank you for paying the rent of all the bricks and mortar boutiques so everyone else can hang out and chat about what’s going on with resellers and how shit they are. Thank you for funding the forums where everyone’s antsy over the fact that they missed out on their size and it’s on eBay now for $500. Thank you for making brands realise there’s a bit of money to be made in this whole collectible sneaker market and that doing a shoe with the local store might be a good thing. Thank you for keeping ‘sneakers’ alive, because if my studies have taught me anything, it’s that a market like this can’t last forever and when it does fall to bits, there’s going to be a lot of great shoes out there for me to hunt down.
At a reasonable price of course.