Adrenaline rushing, I got out of the cab. I don’t know if I had ever been this excited. Cash was in the envelope. He texted me telling me the numbers of his license plate. I was about to get my monthly dose. I saw the back of his head through his Honda hatchback. I knocked on the window three times and gave him a head nod. He opened the door, walked to the side of the curb and we shook hands.
“Brian?” he asked.
“That’s me. Alan right?”
“Yea, let me get it out of the seat for you.”
I brought Case for backup (in case he tried to pull something sneaky). Since Case and I shared the same passion, and since he had a little more expertise in the field, I thought another set of eyes would help validate if this was the real thing.
There it was. He pulled it out of his car. I never thought that I would see it in Singapore, of all places. I pulled out the envelope of cash. Alan opened it and counted the crisp bills to make sure that all the cash was there in full. He approved it and pulled out the beautiful black box.
And there they were. The sun bounced off the vinyl and shined into my eyes. The Jordan 11 in gamma blue. One of my favorite pairs of shoes. All black with a slight translucent ice blue that looked and felt so clean. I grabbed one and tossed the other to Case for a closer inspection. We both gave a look to each other to ensure that they were legitimate and not replicas. We handed them back to Alan and he carefully put them back in the sleek black box. We both shook Alan’s hand and he drove off in his hatchback.
This is what the world of shoes looks like. No, it is not a black market but an open market. I have been in “the shoe game” for about a year now, but I have only been getting serious about it for the last three months. However, I am not the only one who is a shoe enthusiast at SAS. There are several “sneakerheads” in the high school.
“It’s just something that once you get hooked on, it’s hard to let go,” said senior Case Powell. There is a group of about 20 SAS high school students who are a part of a Facebook group titled “Deadstock @ SAS.” Deadstock is the term used when shoes are basically brand new. They come brand new with the original box, have never been worn, and never touched the floor. It is usually difficult to find shoes in deadstock condition.
So how do SAS students get these rare treasures? One source is an app called Carousell. Similar to ebay, Carousell allows users to buy and sell their goods online in Singapore. The reason Carousell is so popular is because it is so easy to use. Very user friendly, the app doesn’t even take a commission between transactions like ebay. Just post what you’re selling, private message the seller, and meet them at an agreed location.
This shoe obsession is not restricted to SAS – the United States market is even bigger. In fact, there are websites and retail stores that only sell exclusive and limited edition shoes. The companies and firms that produce these limited edition shoes have a huge oligopoly on the market.
There are five major brands that are in the market: Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Reebok and Puma. But there is a catch to these brands. Nike receives about 95.5% of the total revenue in this market. Not only do they have a lot of today’s basketball superstars that have signed a deal with the mega company – such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – but they also have one name that cannot escape the sneaker world: Michael Jordan.
The Jordan brand is a subsidy of Nike. What this means is that Jordan has his own brand, name, and designers. But Nike gets about 40% of their revenue. According to Forbes, Michael Jordan earned around $100 million just from his shoes alone and is a part of the Forbes’ Billionaire club. Jordan has now earned the title as the richest retired athlete of all time. The other four companies mentioned earlier (Adidas, Under Armour, Reebok, and Puma) earned around a combined $190 million is shoe sales last year, whereas Nike earned around $180 alone. With an average price of $68.80 for Nike shoes, it’s no wonder why some of the best athletes in the world sign with the brand.
Sneakerheads aren’t just in it to wear them or to collect them. Many are in it for the money. You can make a very profitable business by the shoes you own and the name that is written on the side.