Southeast Asia is emerging as a hub of the global sneaker trade, with Singapore at its centre
According to a study released by premium sneaker marketplace Ox Street, 40 per cent of global growth in the athletic footwear market is expected to come from this region. Here’s why.
Earlier this year, sneakerheads around the world gasped at the audacious S$3,500 price tag of Dior’s hugely anticipated Air Dior sneakers, a collaboration with Nike’s Air Jordan brand. Eye-watering as that may have been (in comparison, the “Pradidas” sneaker collaboration between Prada and Adidas cost about S$700 a pair), it was only just the beginning.
Soon after they were released – all 8,500 Air Diors were snapped up during the global launch – the sneakers began showing up on various resale sites for at least triple their retail price. On Singapore-based premium sneaker marketplace Ox Street, a pair of Air Dior high tops currently hold the honour of being the most expensive shoes sold on the site at a whopping S$12,500.
Those who still wish to score these designer sneakers have plenty of options, as long as they are willing to splurge. At the time of publication, Ox Street has listings for Air Diors in almost every size available, with prices starting from about S$7,300.
Even in a year when the pandemic has confined most people indoors and has resulted in many cutting back on discretionary spending, sneakerheads are still splashing out on shoes. In fact, the demand for limited edition and collectible sneakers has never been higher.
In June, Sotheby’s auctioned a pair of Michael Jordan’s autographed Nike Air Jordan 1's from 1985 for a record breaking US$560,000 (S$765,880). Two months later in August, another pair of the basketballer’s autographed Nike Air Jordan 1’s, also from 1985, shattered that record with a final price of US$615,000 at a Christie’s auction.
READ> A pair of sneakers worn by Michael Jordan sells for record US$615,000
The sneaker juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. Sotheby’s most recent Cult Canvas auction featured eight ultra-rare artist-created Nike sneakers that were made either in collaboration or incorporates an artist’s work. These include designs by French Expressionist Bernard Buffet, New York street artist Futura 2000 and Michael Lau, the pioneer of designer toy figures. Buffet’s “Paris” Dunks, the show’s most expensive, is valued between US$70,000 and US$80,000.
With an estimated value of US$100 billion globally (according to analysts from Cowen Equity Research), there is no doubt that the sneaker market is booming. According to a study released by Ox Street, Southeast Asia is emerging as a key centre of the sneaker trade, with 40 per cent of global growth in the athletic footwear market expected to come from this region.
“There is a global trend toward sneakers and athletic wear, primarily driven by comfort and loosening dress codes, like ‘Zoom casual’. In Singapore and wider Asia, this trend is even more pronounced than in the West due to the year-round hot weather,” said Gijs Verheijke, founder and CEO of Ox Street.
“There is a global trend toward sneakers and athletic wear, primarily driven by comfort and loosening dress codes, like ‘Zoom casual’. In Singapore… this trend is even more pronounced… due to the year-round hot weather.” – Gijs Verheijke
In recent years, Singapore has become a hub of sneaker activity in the region, with a number of influential retailers – including Limited Edt, Dover Street Market and Surrender – who have sufficient clout to stock hard-to-find sneakers which are rarely sold elsewhere.
The little red dot also hosts a number of popular street culture events, including Culture Cartel and Sole Superior, which are a hotbed of sneaker buying, selling and trading activity. This year, the inaugural Singapore edition of Sneaker Con, the world’s premier event for sneaker enthusiasts, was slated to happen in June but had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeremy Tan, co-founder of Culture Cartel, said there are a few reasons why sneakers have captivated the attention of savvy resellers. “Sneakers happen to have an affordable retail price, so if anyone manages to purchase a pair of cool kicks at retail price, it would mean instant profit if they were to re-sell. Plus, limited collaborations with artists, celebrities or other brands often have potential to escalate in value due to their rarity.”
According to Verheijke, popular models, such as Adidas’ Yeezy sneakers or Nike’s Air Jordans, can fetch resale values of double to triple their retail prices. The current in-demand shoes are the Nike SB Dunks which retail at S$139 but command a resale value of at least triple that.
The coronavirus-induced period of isolation has also played a part in fuelling this sneaker obsession, especially with release of the hugely popular Netflix documentary The Last Dance, which chronicles Michael Jordan’s path to success.
“Many viewers were glued to the Netflix show The Last Dance and the demand for Jordans have just skyrocketed. It is at an all-time high,” said Mandeep Chopra, founder of Limited Edt.
With many physical stores closed to comply with various lockdown restrictions this year, shoppers have turned to e-commerce sites to get their fix of kicks.
“Viewership on our social media in terms of views and engagement was at its peak during the circuit breaker period,” Chopra added. Announcements of sneaker drops were made via Limited Edt’s Instagram account, often with stocks selling out moments after they were posted online.
Over at Ox Street, sneaker sales doubled during the circuit breaker months, with Verheijke expecting sales on his site to continue performing well for the foreseeable future.
Collectors who may wish to start dabbling in sneakers as an alternative investment class may want o take note of the experts’ predictions on shoes that may continue to appreciate in value.
Verheijke says recent releases like the Travis Scott or Ben & Jerry’s Nike Dunks are currently commanding high prices. “Footwear that are convenient for those who are spending a lot of time at home, such as Yeezy Slides, have also gained popularity.”
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The Yeezy slide features injected EVA foam to provide lightweight durability, the soft top layer in the footbed offers immediate step in comfort, the outsole utilises strategic groove placement for optimal comfort and traction. . Launch Date : 4 Sept Prices & Sizes : CORE//S$80//UK4-11 (No half sizes) SOOT//S$80//UK4-11 (No half sizes) . Available for : Members & Public ------------------------------------- MEMBERS Online Reservation- 3 Sept , 2PM ------------------------------------- Members may place their reservations by logging in to vipbooking.limitededt.com from 2pm-9pm today. * Only sizes within each members' registered size range will be displayed. * Strictly 1 pair PER member (REGARDLESS OF COLOUR) in OWN sizing ONLY. * Maximum 1 pair per member ONLY. * Members must reserve and purchase their OWN size. * MEMBERS HAVE FROM 4 TO 6 AUG TO PICKUP THEIR RESERVED PAIRS, FAILING WHICH MAY RESULT IN SUSPENSION. . ------------------------------------- PUBLIC Online - 4 Sept , 11AM ------------------------------------- Limited quantities will be made available online at limitededt.com. . Members who have successfully reserved may NOT purchase another pair online. . Strictly 1 PER customer (REGARDLESS OF COLOUR) ONLY. * Maximum of 1 pair per account ONLY. . No size limitations . Do note that deliveries will take a minimum of 7 days due to high influx of orders. Please be patient with us. #LimitedEdtSG #adidas #Yeezy
Or for more shopping ideas, keep a lookout for Culture Cartel’s pivot to a digital event this December. The online event will incorporate the event’s hallmark programming including workshops, parties, performances and of course, sales of exclusive collaboration sneakers. They already have a good track record with last year’s well-received Asics X Limited Edt X Sbtg launch, said Tan. “They sold out instantly and have since become a sought-after pair among sneakerheads.”
“Many viewers were glued to the Netflix show The Last Dance and the demand for Jordans have just skyrocketed. It is at an all-time high.” – Mandeep Chopra