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Are sneakers the new art form?

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Sep 29, 2020 11:03 pm

Nike X Dior was released in April of this year.

I am a high heels kind of gal; even my beach slippers are platform. When I walk for exercise, I choose whatever brand of rubber shoes for functionality and comfort. My friends used to tease me that if I could run the treadmill wearing “sapatillas,” I would.

I am obviously not an expert on sneakers, but I have been seeing its popularity soar. There is a great demand for them and a greater resale value, which could go up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This raises the question: Are sneakers the new art form? And are sneakerheads the new art connoisseurs?

The sneaker industry is worth billions of dollars for primary and secondary sales. According to, the value of the sneaker market worldwide was approximately US$62.5 billion in 2017. Wow! What’s more, it has been forecasted to reach a value of $97.8 billion by 2024.

Chunky chains add glam to these Comme des Garcons sneakers.
Nike Air Yeezy II Red October


As stated by Business Insider, sneaker resale is estimated to be a $2 billion market, with it exponentially increasing in the years to come. Sotheby’s sold at auction Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 1s for a whopping and record-breaking $560,000 this year. This is a “one-of-a-kind,” as it was worn and autographed by the basketball legend himself.

The previous record was for Nike’s 1972 Waffle Racing “Flat Moon Shoes,” which were purchased for $437,500 last year.

As for sneakers that have been released with limited editions, Hypebeast has listed the top sneakers with the highest resale value in 2019, which includes: the Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 Moma Low, Nike Air Yeezy II “Red October,” Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 “Cactus Jack,” and Virgil Abloh x Converse Chuck 70, among others. Their values increased 841 percent to 2,143 percent. Amazing. The shoes are bought from secondary platforms.

Kaws X Air Jordan with the trademark XX of the popular artist
Michael Jordan's Air Jordan 1s was sold for a whopping $560,000 at auction this year.


This is a crazy lineup of sneakers, but here we go. listed the most expensive sneakers ever created. In ascending order, there is the Air Jordan 12 OVO Drake Edition at $100,000. Another is the Buscemi 100 MM Diamond at $132,000. The shoes have 11.5 carats of diamonds set in 18-karat gold. Talk about bling! And finally, there is the solid-gold OVO x Air Jordans at $2 million. It is literally gold and will make you feel like a million bucks… or two.

K-pop icon G-Dragon released his Nike Peaceminusone Paranoise Air Force 1 last year and was included as one of the top collabs by Complex.
Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami collaborated with bag maker Porter's for these BS-06 sneakers.


Sneaker collabs and endorsements have been happening for a while now. The first recorded celebrity endorsement was Chuck Taylor for Converse in 1934.

In the Seventies, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other athletes launched signature shoes. However, it was Michael Jordan who elevated the game when he introduced the first Air Jordans in 1984.

After that, athletes, designers, artists, and especially icons from the hip-hop scene launched collaborations or endorsed sneakers that expressed their styles. There are so many sneaker collabs to date, many of which are really good. There was the Kaws x Air Jordan, which was one of the biggest sneaker collabs of 2017. Popular artist Kaws, aka Brian Donnelly, used his trademark XX on the shoes.

Colorful Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami and bag maker Porter launched BS-06 last year. Chanel worked with trendsetter Pharrell and produced a line of sneakers. Rapper Travis Scott has a bestselling “Cactus Jack” collection with Nike as well.

Youth culture arbiter Complex recorded the best sneaker collaborations for 2019. Among them were with Japanese fashion label Sacai, Off-White, and K-pop icon G-Dragon’s cool Peaceminusone brand.

Then there’s Kanye. Rapper, artist and designer Kanye West started his sneaker collaboration with Nike, launching the Air Yeezy footwear line in 2009. Wanting more control over the design and business side of things, he moved to Adidas, which signaled the rebirth of his Yeezy brand in 2013. It has made over a billion dollars in sales.

Streetwear fashion label Supreme has collaborated with Nike since 2002.


Luxury and fashion brands have gotten into the sneaker game as well. Even doyenne of fashion Anna Wintour designed one back in 2018.

The longest collaboration is between Nike and contemporary streetwear label Supreme, which started in 2002.

Virgil Abloh’s fashion house Off-White has come up with 30 sneaker styles for Nike. Notable releases also include Comme des Garçons with chunky chains, and the recently dropped Nike x Dior.


Sneakerheads are known for their collections, which not only include expensive sneakers but also those that are limited, including the “friends and family” editions. They even acquire unreleased versions.

Many artists, athletes and celebrities have impressive sneaker collections. However, there are those who kick it up a notch, like casino owner Kenny Gonzales, 30-year-old Bahrain billionaire Mohamed Al Safar and legendary sneaker collector Mark Farese, aka Mayor — all whom are known for their precious and massive assemblages of sneakers.

Included in this global list of top sneaker collectors is the Philippines’ very own Bigboy Cheng, owner of Secret Fresh Gallery. He has been featured numerous times by the international media for this extensive footwear collection.

The sneaker game has leveled up in terms of design, output and massive popularity. It has become big business, where owning certain shoes is an investment. However, at the heart of all this is that the sneaker is a form of self-expression and personal style — very much like art.