Michael Fan, Melbourne’s “sneaker head”, doesn’t know how much his entire 700-piece shoe collection is worth.
But the 36-year-old collector owns a pair of ultra-rare Air Jordan I “Chicago” sneakers that are similar to the pair Sotheby’s recently sold at auction for a record US$560,000 ($790,000).
“This pair was signed by Michael Jordan,” Mr. Fan said The new daily.
“I remember there was only one signature on the shoe. But my pair has two signatures, so they’re probably worth more.
A new type of asset
Mr Fan is part of a new sneaker collection trend where fashion meets sport – and it’s quickly becoming a lucrative investment strategy.
Overall, the market is booming.
“For example, for the Michael Jordan shoes worn by the game, the price at which I bought them would be 1% – or less – of the current market price,” Fan said.
“So it’s a good investment.”
In the United States, the resold sneaker market was estimated at around US$2 billion ($2.9 billion) in July 2020, with Bloomberg call the shoes “a real asset class”.
Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China even urged citizens to be “vigilant against the trend of shoe speculation” after big returns encouraged more collectors to get on board.
Sydney-based investor Ilan Israelstam has around 50 pairs of sneakers in his personal collection but says others trade them like any other asset.
“This is not investment advice, it’s just a fact: almost every sneaker that is put in limited edition capsules has gone up. It’s just a question of how fast,” a- he said DT.
“Celebrity culture plays a huge role in this.
“If LeBron James were to step out in the field in something that was released as a limited edition, the price would go all the way up. Obviously people like Kanye West and Travis Scott too, those guys are real thought leaders in this space for those who care.
“That’s why people invest in it, because it’s a pretty good asset class. It’s obviously hard to get a ladder – it’s hard to buy a lot of them and store them.
Mr Israelstam is an angel investor for Sydney-based PUSHAS, which competes with established online players eBay and StockX as a rare sneaker market.
“The category has continued to grow on eBay Australia with triple-digit growth over the past three years,” said Alaiser Low, local head of Authentication, Luxury and Collectibles at eBay.
Nikes, Air Jordans and Yeezys are among the top sellers.
New Balance is also experiencing a resurgence in Australia and the United States.
Even the tastes of Crocodile maintained an average resale premium of 98% last year.
PUSHAS took the investment potential further by creating a fund.
“They would be among the best performing asset classes from a yield standpoint, as far as alternative assets go,” Israelstam said.
As the demand for vintage shoes has increased, the demand for shoe authentication has also increased amid a sea of counterfeit products.
Several companies will now analyze the smallest details of a shoe, such as seams, labels or insoles, and add their stamp of approval if the pair is indeed authentic.
One company, Sneaker Con, had operations in the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Australia, and was recently acquired by eBay to give customers peace of mind.
A labor of love
Mr. Fan has been collecting since 2004. His wife and two children each have their own significant collection, and all are avid basketball fans.
But he’s not looking to flip any of them for a quick buck.
In fact, he never even wears half of his collection – including the treasured Air Jordan I “Chicagos” – in order to protect them.
Also, those mismatched US13 and US13.5 shoes worn by Michael Jordan don’t fit him.
This pair and a few others will be on display at the eBay Museum of Authentics in Brunswick, Melbourne, from April 29 to May 1.
Another pair that holds special significance is the very first pair of Air Jordans he bought – a pair of Air Jordan VIIIs that the basketball player wore on the day his wife was born.
“Sneaker culture isn’t just like the stories behind shoes and designs,” Mr. Fan said.
“It’s also about the links between the collector and the shoes.”