Trainers can fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds with collectors

Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks at the world of sporty footwear, some are at prices that will have you running for it!

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 3:45 pm
These Nike Air Max 720 trainers are on sale priced at 25 pounds
These Nike Air Max 720 trainers are on sale priced at 25 pounds

Like me, I’m sure you’ve been in strict training for this weekend’s London marathon, rescheduled from its usual April date. Yes, I reckon I’ll make it through the TV broadcast without straining anything!

Where would real runners be without a good pair of trainers? Leaping forward in space-age design, materials, and of course celebrity-endorsed cool every year, trainers and sneakers are now ultra-desirable collectables that can literally make you a fortune- a long way in every respect from the flabby plimsolls of my youth.

So young is the sneaker market that anything before 2001 is deemed vintage (I know). Trainers are now a luxury item, like classic cars and fine wines. They even have their own stock market!

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The most sought-after contemporary trainers are those created by companies in partnership with artists and celebrities, like rap superstar Kanye West, the brain behind the ‘Yeezy’ brand.

The demand surrounding these collaborations is so high, the whole run is often sold within minutes using a lottery system- with non-refundable deposits just to enter.

Original, unworn Nike Air Jordans from the 1980s are still the most in-demand vintage trainers on the market. They sell for upwards of £4,000, with certain limited edition models reaching up to £21,000. With high-profile collaborations, Nike often hog the headlines, but Puma, Adidas, Vans and Converse are all desirable brands to look out for.

However, before you start eyeing up the shoe rack, ‘box fresh’ condition is everything- unless they are very special, most collectors won’t consider anything pre-worn. We rarely get trainers in the centre, but currently have these Nike Air Max 720 trainers. Unusual and of interest due to the green glitter incorporated into their soles, they are on sale priced £25.

Rather than chasing the latest releases, a tip is to look back in time. With most retro buyers currently focused on the 1980s and 1990s, canny collectors sourcing 1970s trainers could be in for a nice return when attention switches in this direction.

The highest price fetched (so far) was for a pair of 1972 Nike Waffle Racing Flat ‘Moon Shoes’ at New York Sotheby’s in 2019. One of only 12 pairs handmade by co-founder of newly-founded Nike, Bill Bowerman, he even used a waffle iron to make the sole. Fetching nearly half a million dollars, that’s a world record.