There aren’t many products out there that appreciate in value quite like sneakers do, and as a result, sometimes we’re forced to pay way more than we should to get our hands on a prized pair we missed out on. Nowadays, retail pricepoints seem to be shooting through the roof with each passing year and the resale market continues to make a killing despite the often absurd asking prices. As a result, we’ve all cracked our wallets open a little too wide at one point or another, so the SN team is taking a look back at some of the most extravagant sneaker purchases we’ve made in this week’s edition of Staff Insights.
Air Jordan VI “Black/Infrared” (2000)
I’ve done a lot of impulsive things curated around nonchalant hypebeasting in my younger days. Taking Japanese as a second language credit early on in High School so I could read the Bape webstore and wholesale denim listings on the interwebs, and shelling out a little too much for a pair of sneakers are only two examples.
A major influence was the KanyeUniverseCity blog, because when you’re in 10th grade somewhere in the midwestern United States that isn’t Chicago, the only way you’re going to know about sans serif fonts, Takashi Murakami artwork, post-modernism and of course Air Jordan retros is from that corner of the internet.
This is why it doesn’t seem so outlandish to me when Kanye says that he and Don C are partially responsible for a peak in interest in Jordan retros from the early 2000s, because the post-backpack musings inspired me to go and shell out a little too much money in order grab a pair of Air Jordans.
The year was 2007, maybe 2008 and the last Air Jordan 6 “Black/Infrared” retro had hit in 2000. I didn’t know much about the Jordan calendar, just that I wanted Mike’s first championship sneaker for a number of reasons. The fact that they came out the year I was born and that they just looked incredible was enough to justify any expenditure with my Christmas earnings.
The pair differed from the latest batch in that it had a black insole instead of the original pair’s Infrared (as the 2010 retro would reinstall sans Nike Air branding for the Jumpman) and of course the back heel had the classic Nike Air look to it.
Yet I still find it funny that back then I struggled with the decision on whether to grab these or the Aqua 8s for a price grossly above retail. All it took was a cool $400 and I was happy with the decision. The investment would later help me make my first semester in New York City a luxurious one.
Parra x Nike Air Max 1 “Amsterdam”
The Parra x Nike Air Max 1 “Amsterdam” was a true grail for me. I wanted the sneaker so bad when it first released and even when the shoes were going for $400-600, I didn’t have the proper funds to make the move. I finally got my pair about two years ago; I sold some shoes and combined it with a specific “Amsterdam” cash budget to cop my deadstock 10.5. The asking price was $1200 and the seller and I settled at $1050. It paid $500 and sold two pairs (I think they were Copper Foamposites and an Air Jordan 9 or something) and finally knocked one grail off the list.
I remember receiving them in the mail and staring for about an hour. Up until that point, I had never even seen a pair of Amsterdams with my own eyes, but from that moment on, I had a pair to call my own and I wore them a few days later at Sneaker Con NYC at Baruch college. These were incredibly limited (I think under 300 pairs) and 10.5 is a really sought-after size!
Air Jordan XIV Mid – White/Carolina Blue
The Air Jordan XIV is probably best known for “The Last Shot” colorway that Michael wore as he hit that beautiful, eventual game-winning jumper in his last game as a Chicago Bull. Although that is a beautiful pair, my favorite color scheme of the XIV model is the White/Black-Carolina Blue Mid that never saw a mass release.
They dropped in limited quantities and were given to a select group of people with ties to MJ, including the North Carolina Tarheels back in 1998. Loving the design of the XIV, the UNC inspired colorway and rarity of the shoe, I grabbed my size on eBay back in 2008 for $450, making it the most I’ve ever dished out for one single pair of sneakers. Well worth the price for one of my grails.
Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard
Most of my sneaker purchases over the years have been relatively modest in terms of the pricetag. I can count the number of times I’ve paid over retail on one hand, but I feel like I’ve made up ground in terms of pouring money into this hobby with the sheer amount that I buy. The most I ever spent on a sneaker wars for the Tom Sachs Nike Mars Yard shoe. The whole collection was pretty spendy and the sneakers had a $350 price tag at retail if I remember correctly.
I didn’t even think I’d have the chance to purchase, but they ended up at a handful of spots worldwide. There was one spot in Italy that I very nearly paid a large amount of euros to get them, but it was eventually Union in LA that I grabbed mine from. $350 is definitely a lot for box price on a shoe, but I feel like the Mars Yard justifies it with its arty status and the insane amount of detail put into the shoes and the packaging.
I still haven’t worn mine, but I’ve lived vicariously through others – Tom Sach’s studio is relatively close to the SN office and there was a period of time where I kept seeing pairs on my lunch break (Including one alternate version that I wish I got a better look at).
Air Jordan III “True Blue” (2009)
One of my general rules of sneaker buying is if I can’t get a shoe for retail or less, I don’t need it. I’ve put together a pretty decent collection (by my standards anyway) living by that rule and I’ve rarely strayed from it. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff that I lust over, but I have way more shoes than I need already so dropping large sums on grails and missed opportunities has always felt hard to justify.
That said, there have definitely been a handful of times that I couldn’t say no to a pricy item, but I’ve never gone all that high. I think $250 is probably the most I’ve shelled out for a pair which is still pretty conservative by today’s standards I suppose. I’ve paid that much a few times over the years, but the one that first came to mind was the “True Blue” Air Jordan IIIs that released overseas only in 2009.
It’s one of my all-time favorite Jordan colorways and I had never owned a pair, so when the elusive Asia/Euro-only edition crossed my path for $250, I couldn’t resist. Obviously there was no way of knowing at the time that JB would do a US-bound retro two years later and it felt like a great score, so you can imagine my frustration when news of the 2011 retro broke.
A few months before the 2011 release came around, I had still never worn the 2009 pair so I made things right by selling them for $300 and then buying two pairs of the 2011s when they dropped. I’ve never been much into selling my sneakers, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to work the system and turn one pair of True Blues into two.