Why is This the World’s most expensive Sneaker?

now there’s a question for the ages. A query on the same level as “Why do people pay attention to Banksy?” or “Is a pixelated image of a smoking monkey inherently valuable?”. A difficult question. perhaps even an impossible one. but one, nonetheless, a question worth interrogating – if not actually answering.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

Last month, resale platform and London-based bricks-and-mortar rare pair sneaker store Proxyeed posted an iphone screenshot to Instagram. So far, so innocuous. but then there’s the cap in question: a lock screening seeming to show a fresh notification from the Shopify app. Again, not much to report: shoe reseller sells shoes may be something of a tongue twister, but it isn’t headline news. but here’s where things get interesting: the purchase in question, just a few pairs of sneakers, showed a figure of £112,300 (that’s $150,000).

And now we’re getting somewhere. but what really makes this sale remarkable, though, is that the bulk of that purchase – something around £100,000 mark – was laid out not across the entire order but, rather, on a single pair of sneakers. The shoe in question? The Nike SB dunk low “Paris” – a name that goes some way, at least, to explaining that price tag.

If you’re not familiar with that particular model, you’re probably still wondering how someone might justify spending that kind of money on a pair of sneakers not made from solid gold or imbued with the power to grant its wearer everlasting life. and fair enough: to be honest, even if you are familiar with this shoe then you still might well have questions. but let’s break it down.

The “Paris” is a rarity’s rarity; a confluence of singular characteristics and scarcity that give the sneaker near-mythical status. Firstly, the shoe was created for the Paris leg of the brand’s traveling “White Dunk” exhibition back in 2002 – a fact which already anchors it firmly in space and time, giving the sneaker a unique sense of history, before even getting into anything else. A story, of course, will always sell.

Second, the shoes are supremely limited even by those standards; thought to number around 200 pairs at the very top end of estimates. When we’re not talking about customs or friends and family models, that’s a level of scarcity that rarely applies to sneakers actually available to purchase.

Thirdly – the final side of our neat little triangle – each one of them is unique. Of the (perhaps) 200 pairs of this sneaker that exist somewhere out there in the world, no two are the same. Each pair decorated by the late French Expressionist painter and anti-abstract artist Bernard Buffet in a pattern never once replicated over the course of the shoe’s limited run. A fact which, really, means that rather than being 1/200 each pair is a 1/1 – an original.

Image via Sotheby’s
All of this, then, takes us back to our first question – and, indeed, to those other comparative queries. While I cannot tell you why people pay attention to Banksy or, really, give a definitive answer as to the worth of the carcinogenic chimps, both illustrate the potential value of the “Paris.”

Banksy’s work is created primarily using stencils, which means that – in theory – each piece could be replicated an infinite number of times. NFTs like the bored Ape – or, indeed, the Punk – are locked in a constant battle with the power of the “right click” and the potential for their purchase to be appropriated in an act which, as far as most people outside of the block-chain or crypto communities would be concerned, amounts to duplication and invalidation. Or, to borrow their own language, fungibility.

The “Paris,” however, is as non-fungible as it gets. There are so few of these sneakers in the world, even fewer in public view, that to copy them in any meaningful way is more or less impossible. even if Nike were to re-release these shoes now, the value of the original run would likely increase rather than be diluted: the 2002 iteration would become the landmark originator – like the artwork from which prints are subsequently made and sold, or the stencil si.

Image via Sotheby’s
In this sense it makes sense that Proxyeed’s founder, Ryan Thomas Symes, would note that the sale was “the most expensive private shoe sale ever (excluding signed or game worn Jordan’s” – sneakers which, earning a place in cultural history, become immediately more than a pair of shoes.

And that’s probably the best way of thinking about these shoes: not as footwear but as objects – works of art, each of which stands alone and forms part of a series. never again to be replicated with all of the same factors and circumstances. and you can’t put a price on that.

Or, apparently, you can.

Image via Sotheby’s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *