Retail prices are meaningless in the sneaker scene these days. Only way you pay retail for a pair of fresh, high-demand Jordans or Foamposites or SB Dunks is: 1) stand outside the sneaker store for at least several hours — several days in some cases; or 2) get lucky and snag them online in the five minutes before they sell out.
The large crowd that gathered outside Supreme New York last Wednesday night arrived with pipe dreams of paying $250 (plus tax) for the Supreme X Nike Air Foamposite One the following morning. So many dreamers packed the sidewalk and spilled into the street that the NYPD shut down the release for public safety reasons.
It was a spectacle that sparked headlines. But this isn’t 1994; the setting for sneaker madness is not a sidewalk in front of a storefront. Madness in 2014 is not standing in line the night before a release; madness is having to pay $690 for a pair of sneakers on eBay the day after a release.
In the five days after the Supreme Nike Foams hit the market, 380 pairs were sold on eBay for an average price of $690. There are still more there, if you’re looking. As low as $600 for the black version in size nine (17 bids) and as high as $2,000 for the reds in size 14 (0 bids).
EBay is not for everybody, of course. Maybe you don’t trust that the buyer hasn’t already scuffed them. For many sneakerheads, Flight Club, the NYC-based consignment shop, is the go-to spot for rare kicks. There, the blacks go for $900 and the reds for $1,000.
Sneakers are a status symbol. Like other expensive fashion items wearing a pair of Jordan V Grapes or Galaxy Foamposites reflects a balanced mix of taste and affluence. The higher the price, the more weight on the affluence.
The sneaker market is not designed for the people who like wearing the sneakers. It is designed for the hustlers, the middle-men who re-sell the sneakers to the people who like wearing the sneakers.
EBay, taking advantage of the hype around the cancelled in-store Supreme release, turned on its promotional machine to declare that “hundreds of Supreme fans turned to eBay to find, buy and sell the Foamposite 1’s.” The company’s Youtube channel posted a video of a 22-year-old from Queens named Paul Alexander talking about his appreciation for sneakers. He really did like the Supreme Foams, he said, and he bought the red ones. Five seconds before the end of the one minute video he said: “The fastest and the most trusted way I see to sell these shoes was eBay.
And folks keep buying them. Can’t knock the hustle.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 10, 2014