Once upon a time not too long ago, sneaker lovers and Jordan fanatics would line up outside of malls and stores, where the latest retro Jordans were set to release, and camp overnight in hopes to secure one pair at retail price. The ideal outcome would be to walk away with the shoe in your size, however since lines would wrap around the corner, chances were slim as quantities were extremely limited. After waiting in a line for over ten hours, customers would take whatever they could get, which led to some leaving with sizes they couldn’t fit, but that wasn’t a total loss. Those customers knew they could make their money back plus some by reselling to someone who missed the opportunity to purchase at retail price – and that’s the brief tale on how the resale market became an untamed monster.
Most recently, Crocs released their latest collaboration with Salehe Bembury, who is the former Vice President of Sneakers and Men’s Footwear at Versace and the designer behind some of the most famous YEEZY silhouettes. Bembury has built the type of desired presence for himself in the sneaker industry that attracts hype anytime his name is on a release, and his collaboration with Crocs wasn’t any different. The Crocs Pollex Clog by Salehe Bembury was teased on social media over the past few months leaving fans and anxious customers to anticipate the drop. Once the clogs were finally available for purchase this month, the highly sought release instantly sold out. Minutes later, Bembury’s Crocs were up on resale sites like StockX and eBay, and the $85 shoes quickly turned into $900 shoes.
Sneakerheads, unhappy customers, and spectators tweeted their reactions in real time. Although the nature of the resale market is no secret, these inflated prices were still shocking. As Bembury’s Crocs became a trending topic, it also became apparent that no one on the timeline secured a pair, which shifted the conversation to exposing ‘bots’. This wasn’t a case of not being able to secure your size; this was a case of intentionally buying the Crocs to sell and bring in a high profit.
Since the initial discovery of reselling, the game has evolved. There’s no question that hype releases will be resold as there are now platforms dedicated to the resale market, which has led buyers to become craftier in their purchasing approach hence ‘bots’. A sneaker bot is an automated customer designed to speed up the checkout process when buying products online, which explains how every anticipated sneaker release instantly sells out. Nowadays, if you don’t have a sneaker bot of your own, you are pretty much counted out of the race. The bots also guarantee a seller’s market since they secure all the supply and leave the demand unfulfilled, meaning those who decide to resell control how high the new price will be. We could call it smart business, but under these circumstances, the more accurate description is capitalism.
Historically, there wouldn’t be much fuss around the resale prices for sneakers, but since the market has expanded beyond retro Jordans, inflations are viewed as less reasonable. How could one just accept that a rubber slip-on shoe that is usually sold for under $100 is now being sold for $1,000? The resale market shows no mercy, and today, there are no limits to what can be resold. Even the beloved Telfar bags that sell out each drop are now posted on resale platforms way beyond retail value, which totally goes against the brand’s ethics. However, Telfar has created the Telfar Bag Security Program, that allows customers to pre order their bags to lessen the unfulfilled demand and provide everyone with a chance to purchase. Unfortunately, for those who don’t want to wait over a month to receive their bag, the resale sites are the only timely resort outside of racing between Telfar drops.
Let’s go on record and say the resale market isn’t entirely a scam of overpriced items. There are platforms like Depop, Rebag, and even eBay, where users can find great deals on coveted items at discounted prices. Unfortunately, when it comes to sneakers, the name of the game is resell and profit, so the best advice we can offer is to try your best to secure the next drop at retail value or find a friend with a bot.