From niche obsession to multi-billion dollar reselling industry

Ask anyone who’s into sneaker culture, and they’ll all agree on where it was born: New York.

It started in the 1970s, when NBA scouts were turning their attention to street basketball players, and street style was coming into focus as a result. Breakdancing and hip-hop were budding forms of art. It was a moment undoubtedly driven by Black culture in America.

“All of this intertwining of basketball, hip-hop and sneakers really started in the 1970s, and it’s also there that Black culture is infusing sneakers with a desirable sense of cool that starts to get capitalized on,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, director and senior curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

Meet Canada’s star sneaker resellers

Today, sneaker reselling has become a US$6-billion industry globally, according to the financial services and investment bank Cowen. The most sought after limited-edition shoes command six-figure price tags in the reselling market and can be found on auction alongside designer goods at Sotheby’s, the New York-based auction house better known for dealing fine art and jewellery. The largest shoe brands like Adidas and Nike collaborate with major celebrities like Drake and Pharrell Williams in the quest to make the next iconic shoe.

Leave a comment