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How selling my trainers paid for a new kitchen |

How selling my trainers paid for a new kitchen

Ravi Sidhu and trainersImage copyright
@rednivars


Image caption

Ravi has collected trainers since he was a teenager

The resale market for trainers is estimated to be worth $1bn (£773m) globally, with some limited edition pairs changing hands for thousands of pounds. We look at how one “sneakerhead’s” habit paid for his new kitchen.

“Your trainers cost how much?”

My husband Ravi is a self-confessed “sneakerhead”.

He has collected trainers – or sneakers as they’re known as in the US – since he was a teenager, often buying two identical pairs – one pair to wear and the other to keep in pristine condition.

He keeps this second pair stored in the box with the tags still on.

Image copyright
@rednivars

Image caption

Ravi’s trainer collection is so large that it has its own room

Ravi says his obsession was driven by his childhood.

“When I was younger I never had enough money to buy the trainers I wanted. I had to go to school with rubbish trainers when everyone else was wearing the top brands. But my mum couldn’t afford it,” he says.

“So when I got older, I started working and buying them for myself.

“Then I realised everyone was wearing the same trainers and I wanted to be different so I started looking at limited edition pairs.

“That’s how I became a ‘sneakerhead’. Now, I’m always on the hunt for exclusive trainers,” he adds.

I knew Ravi was a sneaker fan but I never knew how much his collection would be worth.

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Globally the trainer market is estimated to be worth $55bn

He bought three pairs of Nike Air Yeezys for £660 in 2009, and he paid a further £660 in 2012 for three pairs of Nike Air Yeezy IIs in each colour.

In 2015, he listed them on online auction site eBay and was offered £20,000 for all six pairs by someone who specialises in buying and selling trainers. It’s an international trade. One pair was subsequently sold to a buyer in Saudi Arabia, for example.

We were renovating our new house and needed the money.

So he waved goodbye to the Yeezys and we waved hello to a new kitchen and other house improvements.

That’s when I realised his sneaker collection was actually more of an investment.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Celebrity brand tie-ups, such as Adidas with Kanye West, have helped boost trainer sales

The international sneaker market is estimated to be worth $55bn, according to industry specialist SportsOneSource.

Brand endorsements and celebrity collaborations such as Kanye West with Adidas, Rihanna with Puma, and Kendrick Lamar with Reebok have played a part in turning sneakers into big business.

The resale market alone is thought to be worth $1bn. Buyers and collectors are cashing in on this by getting their hands on exclusive pairs and selling them on for a healthy profit.

One brand called Supreme prides itself on its limited releases, with buyers often only allowed to purchase one item per person.

This has pushed the resale value of anything with the red and white Supreme logo up to, sometimes, 10 times the retail price.

Supreme trainers are no exception. The Supreme x Nike Air More Uptempo Suptempo sneakers were sold at retail for £150 in April, but they can now fetch more than triple that in the resale market.

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Crepe City holds regular events where people can buy and sell trainers

Matt Powell, sports industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group, says “the underground economy” these limited editions of shoes has created is one brands are now trying to shift away from.

The growth of the internet and the consequent ease of “flipping shoes” online has accelerated the industry, and firms are now concerned loyal followers are being exploited, he says.

As a result, Mr Powell says brands are deliberately beginning to increase the quantity of shoes they release for limited editions to try and drive down the resale price.

“They want to nurture the true collector who has a great affection for products. So the heat has come off the market a bit, but it’s still a growing business,” he says.

Media captionThousands of “sneakerheads” from around the world were at Europe’s biggest sneaker festival

“Crepes” is another word for trainers, and Crepe City, Europe’s largest sneaker festival is one of the venues where people can buy, sell and swap their trainers in person.

It holds regular events in the UK to showcase exclusive and hard to find sneakers. It was founded in London in 2009 by trainer fanatics Ronal Raichura and Paul Smyth.

Mr Raichura gave up his career as a lawyer to work full time on the bi-annual event.

“Initially I was a fan, buying shoes when I could afford it. At university, I bought one pair every term, and I slowly got involved in sneaker forums and started meeting people in the industry,” he says.

“I noticed there were some events in America, a get together where people could come and buy and sell shoes and share their hobby.

“I kept saying to people in the industry you should do the same here and no-one ever did. So I thought unless you get up and make it yourself, no-one is going to.”

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These self-lacing shoes were being sold for £10,000

At the latest event in East London’s Brick Lane last month there were thousands of sneaker fans and over 250 stalls selling footwear, clothing and accessories.

The most expensive trainers for sale were a pair of Nike Air Mags, going for a staggering £10,000.

The self-lacing shoes were first featured in the Back to the Future II movie in 1989. They were worn by actor Michael J. Fox who played Marty McFly.

Last year, Nike and the Michael J Fox foundation released the 2016 Nike Mag – a limited edition release of 89 pairs available globally through an online draw.

The proceeds went towards the Foundation and helping to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease, which Michael J Fox is currently battling.

Collectors are clearly now selling these on.


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Read more global trade series here.


But it’s not just adults involved in this industry.

At Crepe City I found a pair of Nike Air Yeezy II Red Octobers on sale for £4,200.

The seller was 14-year-old Joseph who bought the trainers online for £2,500. In fact, many of the buyers and sellers there were teenagers taking advantage of the resale market.

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Collectors start young. These trainers were being sold by a 14-year-old

Another 14-year-old, Sonny, said he wanted to make money: “I buy shoes from Adidas and then I resell them, I’m trying to make myself a bit of money. I buy them for retail and then sell them on.”

Eshan, a 17-year-old, said trading was the only way for him to afford new trainers.

“My mum and dad didn’t want to keep spending money on me buying trainers, so I had to start selling so I could buy more for myself. I’m looking for Adidas Ultra Boosts, but I’m a size 13 so I haven’t found any in my size yet.”

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These shoes were made from cork

People flew in from around the world to be there in Brick Lane, looking for brands and models that had the potential to rise in value over time.

But where do these “sneakerheads” store their ever-growing collection of footwear?

I wonder if they have to put them all in an extra bedroom like the one that’s needed in my house.

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