The Art of Sneaker Reselling: 7 Tips to Earn More When You Flip
Years ago, stories of sellers making thousands of dollars by reselling sneakers would’ve sounded impossible. Today, it can be a reality for even the most casual wearer. Sneakers are now bought and sold as quickly as stocks, but if you want to make flipping worth your while, you need to know what shoppers are looking for. Understanding a sneaker’s resale value — how much of the original retail price an item retains (or exceeds) in the secondary market — is key, but there’s no better way to find out what you’ll earn than to chat with a real aficionado.
Sneaker experts like The RealReal Sneaker & Streetwear Valuation Manager Amir Azarcon connect with sellers every day, discussing what they’ll earn and why — not to mention how to boost the numbers. And when you can earn 80% of the selling amount for sneakers priced $195+*, every dollar counts. To get schooled in the art of reselling sneakers, we asked Azarcon to share his insights on the real value of pristine pairs, the process behind pricing your kicks and, ultimately, how to earn more for reselling sneakers.
Sneaker Reselling Tip #1: Enlist an Expert
When you just want to know what your pair is worth from a real-life human, schedule some time with an expert (virtually or at a TRR location). When it comes to pricing at TRR, we use real-time advanced algorithms for intelligent pricing that’s derived from internal data and external market trends. Brand resale value, item condition and recency all factor in too. And with 17 million items sold, it’s safe to say we’re onto something. At a free expert valuation, though, you can ask our experts what’s trending, how the sneaker resale value is holding up or what you’d earn for selling upfront. The best part is we do everything for you, from picking up your kicks and seeking out the highest price the market will demand to photographing and listing them. Easy as that.
When it comes to the hands-on aspect of pricing, it’s all about doing the research. “The first thing that I do when pricing a sneaker is identify what’s in front of me,” says Azarcon. “Colorway and silhouette will typically determine a sneaker’s value. All Nike and adidas sneakers have individual style codes on the actual sneaker. Once I know what I’m looking at, I look at past sales to get an idea of how to price them. We always cross-reference our sales data with competitors’ sales data to see if we can go higher — and in a lot of instances we can list higher than other platforms because of our brand’s reach and visibility. We always consider the size of a sneaker too, since certain sizes can resell for more than others.” Book an appointment and get a personalized pricing breakdown for your sneakers.
Sneaker Reselling Tip #2: Sell Jordan & Nike Classics
Before luxury houses adopted the sneaker trend and never looked back, two brands — Nike and Jordan — had established a dedicated following with their repertoire of classics. The styles they’re most known for are also the ones shoppers are avidly seeking (and are willing to pay more for).
“Nike SB Dunks, Nike Dunk collaborations and original colorways, Jordan 1s, and Jordan sneakers in original colorways all consistently hold high resale value, with many selling above their retail price,” notes Azarcon. “Nike SB Dunks are one of the most coveted sneakers on the resale market, and Jordan 1 hype has been slowly building over the last ten years, reaching an all-time high in 2021. Some of this demand can be attributed to ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries.” After the series premiered, Jordan sneaker resale value increased 48% from the first half of 2020 to the second, the most of any sneaker brand at TRR.
“As Jordan brand continues to capitalize on the demand with a new Jordan 1 release every other week, original colorways that Michael Jordan either played in or originally released in 1985 have become more covetable,” adds Azarcon. “The Last Dance nostalgia effect is most apparent with the Chicago colorway of the Jordan 1, which resold for around $1,100 this time last year and has now hit the $2,000s.” These Jordan 1 Retro Chicago sneakers from 1994, in their unlaced, fresh-from-the-box state, resold this year for $2,500, earning a seller $2,000 (hello, 80% commission!*). If you’ve got a more recent pair on hand though (like these, from 2013), you still have the potential to net $876.
Sneaker Reselling Tip #3: Let Trends Guide You
For shoppers, there’s nothing more thrilling than finding those trending, sold-out-everywhere kicks on TRR; for sellers, there’s nothing like capitalizing on the buzz and flipping them to earn more. What’s popular in the retail sphere is often what shoppers want most, so it makes sense that with limited supply and high demand, the latest drops can earn you a tidy profit. But you may be surprised to learn that New Balance, the unsuspecting performance running shoe brand, has risen to new levels of hype, with NB sneaker resale value following suit.
“Two years ago we were pricing sneakers from the New Balance 990 line for $50-$75, but now we’re seeing them sell for $200-$300, with some collaboration pairs going for even more,” says Azarcon. “New Balance had an incredible year in 2020. We’ve seen collaborations with Joe Freshgoods, WTAPS and even Aimé Leon Dore exceed the $1,000 mark in the secondary market, which has never happened before with New Balance. As sneakers in general become more ‘mainstream,’ many people are drawn to more niche, new-to-them brands such as New Balance. The brand’s ‘Made in the US’ line boasts great quality and is a huge draw for consumers who appreciate craftsmanship.”
Sneaker Reselling Tip #4: Cash Out on Collaborations
Collaborations make the sneaker world go round, so naturally it’s a solid decision to flip them. Earn more by targeting the dynamic duos that are scarce on the secondary market. “A lot of big Nike collabs have seen upward growth in terms of resale value typically as pairs sell and come off the secondary market,” says Azarcon. “Limited availability drives up the price. Nike SB Dunk collaborations dominated 2020; the more recognizable the collaboration, the more coveted the shoe (think Ben & Jerry’s and The Grateful Dead).” If you were lucky enough to scoop up the Nike Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky collab for a mere $100 in the retail market, we recommend selling now: this pair resold for $1,475, earning the seller $1,180.
“Anything that Travis Scott touches automatically commands a high resale value,” continues Azarcon. “Travis Scott Jordan sneakers sell for up to 354% of the original retail price. This SB Dunk Low resold for $1,545; the seller scored $1,236 in return. And Off White x Nike continues to fly off the site, especially pairs from The 10 collection.” Did we mention their staggering resale value? Off-White x Nike sneakers are currently selling for up to 2,158% of the original retail price. No surprise here, then, that this pair of Air Jordan 1 “Chicagos” resold for $5,000, resulting in a $4,000 payday.
Sneaker Reselling Tip #5: Bank On Luxury Brands Like Louis Vuitton
Knowing what to resell is a key part of earning more for your sneakers, especially with the many designer variations out on the market. Not all designer sneakers are created equal though, especially when it comes to sneaker resale value. If you appreciate investments that pay you back, earn more by selling powerhouse pairs from brands like Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Dior Men.
“Louis Vuitton sneakers sell for 72% of the original retail price on average, with Virgil Abloh’s influential designs driving hype and demand,” says Azarcon. “You can earn more by selling recent designer sneakers like the Trainers. These Louis Vuitton trainers sold for $1,195, $5 less than the original retail price, earning their original owner $956.” Sellers are also seeing returns for their Dior sneakers; the average selling price of Dior sneakers is up +23% year over year. “Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh head the two hottest luxury menswear brands in the world right now — Dior Men and Louis Vuitton, respectively. Their hype isn’t dying down anytime soon and we expect to see their designs continue to sell well.” Balenciaga Triple S, Track Runner and Speed Trainer sneakers are also steadily holding their value in the resale market; the brand’s sneakers retain 63% of the original retail price on average.
Sneaker Reselling Tip #6: Clean Your Kicks
Now that you know what to flip … how can you maximize your earnings further? If you’re a clean freak who never lets a speck of dust settle onto your kicks, you’re in luck: clean sneakers translate to a higher list price in the secondary market, and a higher commission for you when it’s all said and done. But there’s more to sneaker upkeep than just swiping the soles across your doormat.
“Be smart about when and where you’re wearing your sneakers,” says Azarcon. “Sneakers are meant to be worn of course, but this does not mean wear them hiking, in the rain or to a music festival, especially if you want to resell them one day. A light wipe-down of your sneakers’ soles with a wet cloth after every wear is your best bet to remove light dirt that builds up over time. The more proactive you are with cleaning, the less heavy-duty cleaning you’ll have to do down the line.”
Keeping your kicks fresh and clean may take a bit of extra work, but just know it will pay off. “If you compare this pair of Jordan 4s in good condition that sold for $195 to a pair of Jordan 4s in very good condition that sold for $345, you’ll notice the $150 list price difference,” says Azarcon. “Again, these Balenciaga Track sneakers in good condition sold for $525, compared with Balenciaga Track sneakers with no signs of wear in the same colorway at $875. Another pair of Jordans also illustrates the connection between condition and sneaker resale prices — Retro 3 True Blues in very good condition sold for $295 versus Retro 3 True Blues with no signs of wear at $395.” And remember that on average, sneakers in excellent condition that show no signs of wear resell for 10% more.
Sneaker Reselling Tip #7: Keep the Box
Holding onto your sneaker boxes may make for a convenient storage solution, but when it comes to reselling your kicks, the collateral — we’re talking box, dust bag, tags and receipt — can also help you earn more. “The receipt is great for authenticity purposes,” notes Azarcon, “but all of the extras add value here when it comes to reselling, especially if you’re keeping the sneakers in pristine condition. Pro tip: any time you’re getting a limited release with special packaging and collateral you should definitely save everything.”
Have you, in true sneakerhead fashion, actually worn your kicks? Not to worry. Previously worn sneakers still sell for 34% more on average with the original box, tag or dust bag than those without collateral.
Ready to boost your earnings? Sell sneakers with us now.
*Earn 80% of the selling price when you consign men’s sneakers with a list price of $195 or more. Commission rates subject to change at any time.