Sneakers: A Growing Intersection of Fashion, Finance, and Culture

In 2022, sneakers aren't just shoes. They are collectibles, investments, creative assets in both physical and digital worlds, and the sneaker world is growing.

Sneakers: A Growing Intersection of Fashion, Finance, and Culture

In 2022, sneakers aren't just shoes. They are collectibles. They are investments. They are creative assets in both physical and digital worlds. They are collaboration platforms for musicians, entertainment franchises, and brands. And they can be much more. The Financial Times recently released an article describing the increasing demand for sneakers as a 'must have cultural commodity.' That article encapsulates the multi-faceted sneaker zeitgeist.

As a highlighted example, the most expensive pair of sneakers sold at auction was the Air Yeezy 1 prototype, worn by Kanye West at the 2008 Grammy Awards. These were sold for $1.8 Million at a Sotheby's Auction and bought by fractional sneaker investment platform Rares. Rares allows people to buy shares in expensive sneakers as an investment asset and is quickly building up a growing portfolio of shoes.

The FT article describes 'cultural significance' and 'scarcity' as two of the key factors that determine the price of a valuable collectible. They also mention a new generation of buyers coming of age and seeking out cultural assets that represent their youth, such as Air Jordans and comic books and trading cards. The level of interest in sneakers has increased as the level of sophistication in investors has also increased.

In the latest episode of the Neustreet podcast, Justin Truong from sneaker startup PUSHAS shared a story of creating a sneaker investment fund that acquired and flipped a portfolio of sneakers. We talked about the massive changes and growth in sneaker reselling culture over the last six years.

We live in a world today where sneaker collaborations can come from a diverse group of stakeholders - from Billie Eilish to Peanuts to Dunkin'. We are seeing luxury brands like Balenciaga selling 'fully destroyed' sneakers that are sold for $1,850. We are seeing players like RTFKT and Space Runners create NFT sneaker fashion for the metaverse.

The most anticipated sneaker collaboration of 2022 is likely the Air Force 1 by the late Virgil Abloh, a project between Nike and Louis Vuitton that was one of Virgil's final projects before his death. The 47 versions of the sneaker are currently on display at a warehouse in Brooklyn in a free-to-the-public installation running through May 31. There is significant cultural significance attached to these shoes considering Virgil's contributions to the sneaker industry and his connection with the Louis Vuitton brand. Limited edition sneakers designed by Virgil Abloh have been previously sold at auctions for over $100,000 and these latest Air Force 1s could likely reach that level.

These are a few examples of the diversity in what sneakers offer today. Sneaker culture is more than just buying and selling shoes. Sneakers are a platform for fashion, music, sport, finance, art, and technology. We feel the momentum behind sneakers building and are excited to dive deeper into the topic over the coming months.