If you were to look up the definition of “resell/reselling” it would be simply put as “the act of buying to sell for profit”. The act of reselling is more common than you would think, it exists everyday, all around us, whether you notice it or not. Garage sales, vintage stalls, consignment stores and social networks are all examples of where “reselling” takes place.
When most people think of resellers though, they think “this guy is just taking advantage of people's money for their own personal profit; what makes this item worth so much?”. An almost instant pass of judgement is laid upon these individuals or businesses that resell. The connotations linked to being a “reseller” has always been negative.
Although what many fail to realise is that reselling is nothing more than a prime example of progressive capitalism. Breaking the loop of over the counter transactions and creating new meaning and value on the product is what reselling is all about. It allows products to take a life of its own outside of the political agenda that brands choose to align it with, and the overt forms of marketing and product placement it experiences. Reselling removes that product from that “loop” and presents it to the same audience in a different light. They dictate the market for that product, the “true” value of that product, and how that product is to be viewed in the grand scheme of “sneaker culture”.
Even in a general retail space, many would scoff at the idea of paying $300 for a pair of shoes, knowing that the total cost to make it would only amount to $40. But if you were to break down the business behind it, there’s still wholesale costs, retail costs, marketing and advertising, distribution costs, sampling, freight and handling, overheads etc.
So even if a pair of shoes cost $40 to make and sell for a retail price of $300, it’s also inclusive of the brands image, the story that’s been aligned with it, the “worth” of that product to the brand and to the customer. The intangible elements also make up the price and “worth” of a shoe. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in a sense of “retail” prices, all these considerations are made before a business will even think of breaking even on that particular product.
If we were to look at it from the perspective of the aftermarket and to “resellers”, a similar approach is applied. They’ll question the quantity of that product, the demand it has, the projected value to consumers, accessibility for product; on top of the fact that they run that risk of making little to no profit if the market shifts. Whilst retail spaces are given that wiggle room for margins between fixed retail prices and SALE prices, resellers don’t have that luxury of falling back. There have been instances where resellers have over ordered product and ended up selling them for a loss, or if you’re lucky, you can make over 2000% profit on a single item. The variables are endless.
Sneaker culture over the last decade and a half has experienced a large boom in resellers and the reselling business. Stores such as Flight Club, Stadium Goods, RIF LA and even our own store, SOLEMATE Sneakers, have all fed into that business as we understand that the price tag listed on an item is not its definitive worth and value. Let’s take the Jordan 1 for example. If you were to take something as simple as the Jordan 1 and look at it at face value, you’d see a shoe constructed from leather, rubber and a whole lot of glue. Next you’d see it wrapped in paper and packaged on a standard cardboard box with NIKE branding; and to top it all off, you’ll notice the RRP on the box at $200. Now if a product is priced at $200 and presented in a standard form of packaging, why do people spend 2-3 nights lining up for it? And why do people spend $2,500 for a pair?
It’s because the product has cemented itself as an icon. It’s transcended sneaker culture and set the pavement for all sneakers to come after it. It took a Junior from North Carolina and threw him into the spotlight. Along with his gifts and talents, the sneaker line became almost as legendary as the player itself. It inspired a generation of players to want to “Be Like Mike”. It’s all the intangibles that set the market for that shoe. It’s not only because it’s a “hyped” shoe that makes it that expensive, the product alone serves just as a symbol for what it’s truly worth. That’s why you’ll see a million different colourways of the Jordan 1 to release, yet they all still sell out. Why? Because it’s more than “just a shoe”.
With no signs of slowing down, reselling will always be a prevalent entity in sneaker culture. It will exist as a reminder that the brands don’t dictate the market, but the consumers do. Resellers are common folk, like you and I. They represent the consumer at a grassroots level, being in and amongst the people, silently observing their interests and needs. They’re the grey area between brand value and personal value. They do exist, they've always existed, and they’ll continue to be a central figure in sneaker culture.