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The Downfall Of The Sneaker Resale Market

The sneaker resale market became big business in the 2010s as sneaker giants embraced the scarcity model, releasing limited-edition shoes in small quantities to drive hype around their brands. Prices for rare Jordans and Yeezys climbed steadily, then spiked during the pandemic. However, the market peaked towards the end of 2022, as a relentless parade of collaborations and unimaginative releases of minor variations on the same retro sneakers created fatigue among even the most avid collectors.

Two of the largest sneaker marketplaces in Europe, Restocks and Kikikickz, recently filed for bankruptcy after months of leaving their users with unfulfilled orders, unpaid refunds, and overdue payments. This comes as the sneaker resale market experiences a contraction after a decade-long boom. Nike has been producing more of its most in-demand shoes, consequently decreasing their value in the secondhand market. Although the overall trade volume across the secondary market was flat in 2023, if prices continue to fall, resale stakeholders of all sizes will feel the effects.

The sneaker giants ramped up production, with Nike, New Balance, and Adidas flooding the market with millions of sneakers, helping them cash in on surging demand. Today, rare collaborations and collector’s items still fetch eye-watering prices and are major cash cows for remaining resellers. The Fragment Design x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Retro High (2014) sneakers were the most profitable sneakers for sellers on GOAT in 2023, regularly fetching over $2,000.

A new generation of sneaker brands is filling the void left by Nike and Adidas. The hottest sneakers today are made by newcomers like On and Salomon, as well as lesser-known brands like Mizuno, Merrell, and Norda, which are at the forefront of the sportstyle sneaker trend. This is a fast-growing category that combines the performance elements of trail, hiking, and running shoes with fashion-forward attributes. On has an ongoing collaboration with Loewe, and Salomon’s tie-up with New York designer Sandy Liang has consistently traded at premiums on resale platforms.

Although retro sneakers still make up the bulk of primary and secondary market sneaker sales, growth in the overall category was largely driven by sport-style shoes last year. Sales of Asics’ Gel-1130 and New Balance’s 9060 sneakers grew by 1,176 per cent and 744 per cent respectively on StockX in 2023. Sneakers have become a staple category in fashion, and as long as there is continued innovation in the sector, sneakerheads say they’re certain the secondary market will eventually recover.


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