Sneakers Unboxed

Facts from the sneaker industry

21 July 2022

The sneaker industry is vast. It has grown exponentially over the last two decades and shows no sign of slowing down. In 2021, for example, about 1.2 billion sneakers were sold worldwide which is almost double the amount of sneakers sold in 2012.

Much of the industry’s expansion is based on a unique combination of consumer demand and strategic marketing by competing brands. There are instances where a sneaker model has risen to prominence mainly thanks to its cultural value. One example of this is the Nike Air Force 1, which is credited with being the sneaker model released in the greatest number of different versions.

Sneaker resale has become an industry in its own right, with online platforms such as StockX achieving record prices. The largest profits are driven by a thirst for exclusivity in a market worth an estimated $10 billion (€9.2 billion).

The most popular sneaker
Every country, and even often every big city, has its own preference for a certain sneaker model. The most popular sneaker in Europe is the Nike Air Force 1 Low ’07. The original was released in 1982 and has appeared in thousands of colour combinations, in countless special editions and was customized by hundreds of artists.

The best-selling model does not tell you everything about the most popular silhouette. Which is not the Nike Air Force 1, but the Nike Dunk Low. The silhouette is the shape of the shoe, while a model is an edition of a certain silhouette. For example, Europe’s most popular sneaker the Nike Air Force 1 Low ’07, where Nike Air Force 1 Low is the silhouette and ’07 is the model.

The biggest price increase
Besides collecting, many pairs are resold by so-called resellers, mainly because people are tired of them or to resell the shoe at a profit. In this chart you can see which sneakers, which have been sold at least 20 times through the marketplace StockX, have increased in price the most in the past year. The diagram shows that in Europe the prices of various models of the Air Jordan silhouette have risen the most.

The best purchase for resale
While some trainers sell very well through resellers, other pairs unintentionally stay in their stock for a long time. This chart shows which shoes in Europe had the biggest price increase compared to the original retail price. For example, the price of the 1985 Air Jordan 1 OG Bred has now increased by 25,948%.

There is a lot of money to be made by reselling trainers, but beware: there are also pairs that do not sell well at all and drop significantly in price. These pairs are called bricks. Want to know more about these and other terms? Check our sneaker dictionary.

The most expensive sneakers
A pair of sneakers for 65,917 euros?! In January this year, a pair of Nike MAG Back to the Future from 2016 was sold for that insane amount. The buyer owns something very exclusive now, because only 89 pairs of this self-tie shoe have been made.

Worldwide, and certainly also in Europe, huge sums of money are regularly paid for sneakers by collectors. The price is often determined by the exclusivity of the shoe. Like the number two on this list, the Dunk Low Pro SB Yellow Lobster, the chance that an enthusiast will find it is 1 in 40 million.

In its 5-year history, StockX has facilitated the trading of millions of sneakers. The data gathered and analysed from these transactions builds a picture of the growth and changing trends of the secondary sneaker market. This infographics were made possible thanks to StockX.