Where can I buy authentic resale Yeezy

Sotheby's: The venerable auction house mixes up the market with coveted sneakers

After the record sale of $ 1.8 million for Kanye West's "Nike Air Yeezy" sneakers, Sotheby's is putting the shoes of famous basketball players on sale in Geneva. What's behind this new strategy?

What do watches, jewelry and luxury handbags and sneakers have in common? They are all desirable products for which certain enthusiasts sometimes spend very high sums at auctions. But while the first three categories of classic luxury goods are made from valuable materials and by expert craftsmanship, sneakers have so far been more of a niche in the international auction market.

So it is astonishing that a pair of sneakers is currently one of the most valuable items at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva. Nick Nolte's “Rolex Submariner”, which he wore in the 1977 film “The Deep”, is estimated at 15,000 to 30,000 francs, a “25 cm Hermès Kelly Sellier” bag in “Bougainvillier” ostrich leather is estimated at 24,000 to 28,000 Francs. On the other hand, the pair of “Air Jordan 1” shoes that Michael Jordan wore in his debut season has an estimated value of a whopping 100,000 - 150,000 francs.

$ 1.8 million for a pair of trainers

The gigantic trade in sneakers may seem strange to outsiders. But the ideal value of certain shoes is obviously of great importance to a growing audience. The latest example at astronomical heights are the “Nike Air Yeezy” shoes that Kanye West wore at his appearance at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

The US size 12 pair of prototypes broke Sotheby's records at the end of April 2021: At $ 1.8 million, it is the most expensive publicly sold pair of sneakers to break the million mark. The seller was shoe collector Ryan Chang.

Valuable cult shoes

Kanye West's "Nike Air Yeezy" prototypes made their first public appearance at the 2008 Grammy Awards. In 2009, West launched the limited “Yeezy 1” with Nike, followed by the “Air Yeezy 2” in 2012. The prototypes of these cult shoes sold almost three times as much as the most valuable sneakers to date: the signed pair of “Nike Air Jordan 1” was auctioned last May for US $ 560,000 - also at Sotheby's. The introduction of the “Air Jordan 1” is one of the milestones in sneaker culture and one of the most sought-after shoes. These days, just after the "Nike Air Yeezy" record sale, you have the chance to get hold of one of these iconic models.

At the Geneva online auction Gamers Only - the first Swiss sneakers auction by Sotheby's, 13 pairs of “game-worn” sneakers are on offer, i.e. shoes that famous basketball players wore at a game. Just like a year ago, there is a special piece, the "Nike Air Jordan 1", this time unsigned, but worn by basketball legend Michael Jordan himself in his rookie season (1984 - 85).

The historical relevance of the various lots is emphasized on the website of the online auction with editorial content from texts and videos. In addition to shoes from basketball players such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Stephen Curry, the lot with the number "802" is special in its own way: Shaquille O'Neal's Dunk.net shoes are size 22, i.e. around 40 centimeters long.

With the exception of Michael Jordan's “Air Force 1”, all shoes come from the collection of Jordan Geller, who maintains one of the most important sneaker collections in the world with ShoeZeum. The starting bid starts at 80,000 francs, bids can be submitted until May 12, 2021 at 4 p.m.

Sneakers as sought-after as rare wine and jewelry

In recent years, “trainers”, as they are also known in English, have achieved desirable collector status that is comparable to that of fine wine or jewelry. Sotheby's has been involved in this market since 2019, and at the forefront: A first collection of the world's rarest sneakers was created in July 2019 in collaboration with Stadium Goods, a special reseller of “aftermarket” shoes. A single private prospect bought this before the start of the auction. The only item that was still up for auction was the 1972 Nike Waffle Racing Flat 'Moon Shoe', which is the first shoe in sneaker history to be traded. The pair sold for $ 437,500.

The trade in rare sneakers

Market with great potential

In 2019 it was estimated that the sneaker resale market was worth around $ 6 billion. This estimate was recently revised: by 2030, the value of this market is estimated at 30 billion. At Sothebys, auction sales in this division have grown by a good 320 percent since 2019. 54% of Sotheby’s sneakers customers have been new customers so far, 65% are between 20 and 40 years old and come from the three main segments of the USA, Asia and Europe. According to Sotheby's, there are many “cross-category” collectors, customers who also collect objects from other categories, such as old masters or cars.

The auction house has used the strong cross-divisional activities in recent years with various collaborations to gain a new audience: A T-shirt collection with the streetwear platform Highsnobiety or art-inspired chocolates from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. But there are also auctions with special pairings of brands such as Adidas with Meissen porcelain or Mercedes-Benz with designer Virgil Abloh.

The Geneva auction is the third sneaker and sports memorabilia auction by Sotheby's this year; In 2020 there were eleven. There will probably be a few more in the future. However, in contrast to other categories of the house, these are not announced in advance. The “drop” principle that is common in the sneaker industry is used - like a shoe “release”, an auction is announced shortly before the launch date.

31-year-old helps venerable auction house find new customers

In the wind of the recent record sales, Sotheby's is excited to see how the current auction in Geneva will go. It's not just about the prices achieved - many of the 13 lots started at US $ 1 - but also about the general response from this corner of the world, which is rather new for sneakers.

Brahm Wachter plays a key role in this. Thanks to him, the venerable auction house has also been at the forefront in the market for sneakers and sports memorabilia since 2019. His area of ​​expertise as “Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectibles” at Sotheby's includes rare sneakers as well as sports memorabilia such as NBA trading cards, brochures and jerseys. "It is something special that you go to the office to hold a 40 centimeter sneaker worn by Shaquille O'Neal in your hands," says the 31-year-old.

To person

Brahm Wachter

The 31-year-old Brahm Wachter is head of the young “Streetwear & Modern Collectables” division at Sotheby's. At college he was very fond of sneakers and ran with them Customize from sneakers to his first small business. For the application to the business school, he labeled a pair of Air Force 1 sneakers with his resume. He later worked in strategy consulting and completed his MBA. With the job at Sotheby's, which he started in 2019, he came full circle.

The 31-year-old describes his field of activity as finding unique opportunities in the market and creating the right way to bring these objects onto the market. In the example of the “Nike Air Yeezy” prototype, Wachter knew the collector and had been keeping an eye on the item for a while: “In my opinion, the exhibition in Hong Kong associated with the auction offered the right moment to introduce the shoe to the world”, Wachter testifies in a Zoom interview from Los Angeles. “Most of them don't wear them. You simply collect them, for example exhibit them at home. I sometimes joke that collecting sneakers is comparable to collecting good wines: You buy two pairs: one to wear and one to “put on ice”, ”says Wachter.

The market does not seem to be exhausted

The market for rare sneakers does not seem to be exhausted yet, as Wachter confirms. He diligently stirs the advertising for current and future sneaker auctions, emphasizing with anecdotes that individual items such as Michael Jordan’s "Air Force 1" are historical milestones. His mission: to arouse the interest of new customers and attract potential collectors. “In business school it was always said that you should never buy stocks that you read about in the newspaper. Because then it is usually too late, "says Wachter and adds:" Many sneaker collectors I have met have struck fresh, highly hyped models. It is always a good idea to wait a few weeks to see how the price develops. Usually it goes down, which is a good time to buy. "

A slightly bitter aftertaste, however, is given by the way in which such a powerful auction house as Sotheby's polishes up parts of the latest lifestyle history on its own in order to create a breeding ground for later profits. The auction house announced on Monday in a press release about the record Yeezy sale: “This sale speaks volumes about Kanye West's legacy as one of the most influential dress and sneaker designers of our time, but also about the Yeezy license he founded and a titan the sneaker industry. " Formulations like this seem a bit over the top.

The great attraction of sneakers

Sergio Muster, co-founder and managing director of Sneakerness, knows why sneakers are so fascinating. The sneaker convention, founded in 2008, is today considered Europe's mother of sneaker events, not only for resale, but also as an event with informative talks, workshops and parties.

On the one hand, it is the very limited editions, but also the story behind the shoe that makes it so attractive: "Most of the time, the sneakers are associated with a certain person, a personal hero, with whose style and lifestyle the fans identify." In the last five years, sneakers have replaced handbags as an absolute must-have in the fashion world for samples. “Many“ releases ”are now only available online; Because of so-called “sneaker bots”, automatic programs that buy up practically everything, you hardly have a chance to buy one of the coveted new sneakers, also known as “Grail”. ” In the resell market, these are then available at higher prices.

Strange excesses of the trade in rare sneakers

Yes, the trade in sneakers seems rather strange to outsiders - not dissimilar to the hyped Crypto Art, as it is quite new and for many still confusing. For example, Kanye West's “Nike Air Yeezy” described at the beginning was not bought by a private collector, but by the RARES Internet platform. As with shares in a company, this will offer "shares" in the most expensive sneakers in the world from summer onwards. A “special” phenomenon, but that's how things seem to work in this industry: First come, first served.