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The history of sneakers begins in 1839 with the invention of vulcanized rubber. Charles Goodyear, after whom Goodyear Tires is named, stumbled upon the process of hardening rubber through heating. This creates a durable and waterproof material that soon found use in the manufacture of tires, balls and pencil erasers–and plimsolls.
Initially worn by beachgoers, they later proved popular with sportsmen and by the turn of the 20th century, they were a staple of outdoor and leisure activities. Fast forward to today, and what began as practical, inexpensive vacation footwear has morphed into a $360 billion industry where limited release sneakers sell for as much as $50,000.
Let’s look at five limited-edition Nikes that, while not the most expensive you can find, are so beautiful they might almost be worth these crazy prices.
Nike Dunk SB Low Staple NYC Pigeon
- Released: 2009.
- Quantity made: 150
- Original retail price: $200
- Average sale price: $9,259 – Check prices on StockX
This Jeff Staples designed Dunk is a paean to one New York City’s most infamous residents: the pigeon. The colourway draws from the bird’s plumage of grey, white and black. It’s feet represented by an orange outsole.
This might be the sneaker that kicked off the phenomena off camping outside to get your hands on a limited run. A huge crowd of queuing sneakerheads required police presence. By the day after release, the Pigeon Dunk made the front page of the New York Post and was being re-sold for $1,000.
Nike Air Max 1 Parra Patta “Cherrywood”
- Released: 2010
- Quantity made: 258
- Original retail price: $150
- Average sale price: $3,412 – Check prices on StockX
The Air Max 1 silhouette is timeless. It proved the ideal palette for a collaboration between the Dutch artist Piet Parra and the Amsterdam sneaker store Patta. The fifth and last shoe of that series has a rich burgundy suede offset by the Air Max 1’s usual chunky midsole. To add to this regal touch, the sock liners are a luxury satin. With so few released, catching a pair of these was a fantasy for most sneaker lovers. They’re rarely on the market, but when they are don’t expect to pay much less than about $4000 for a pair.
Nike Air Force 1 Low Kith
- Released: 2019
- Quantity made: 100
- Original retail price: F&F release only
- Average sale price: $6,317 – Check prices on StockX
In 2019, Kith’s Ronnie Fieg teased an Air Force 1 collaboration. Clean white leather upper with an embossed Kith swoosh. A little Kith clasp on the laces. And one of the coolest shoeboxes you’ll ever see. Heaven. The only problem? The release was Friends and Family only. So unless you barged your way into Fieg’s life somehow, this one would be out of your reach. During the Covid-19 crisis, five members of the company auctioned their personal pairs to DirectRelief’s response fund. A classy move befitting a classy shoe.
Nike Air Max 97 MSCHF x INRI Jesus Shoes
- Released: 2019
- Quantity made: 100
- Original retail price: $1,425
- Average sale price: $2,900 – Check prices on StockX
Brooklyn creatives MSCHF pulled off an outrageous Nike collaboration in 2019. A Jesus shoe. Specifically, a Jesus shoe with the air bubbles filled with 60cc of Jordan river water to evoke the miracle of Jesus walking on water. Other details include a crucifix on the laces, a reference to the Book of Matthew on the toe box and insoles scented with Frankincense. Despite their limited run, their resale price stays in and around the original, which sounds great until you consider they were priced at $1,425 from day 1.
Nike Air Max 1/97 Sean Wotherspoon
- Released: 2017
- Quantity made: 1,000
- Original retail price: $160
- Average sale price: $1,380 – Check prices on StockX
This hybrid Air Max 1 and Air Max 97 was a successful competition design from Sean Wotherspoon. Inspired by 1990s corduroy Nike hats, Wotherspoon created something joyous. A blissful kaleidoscope of coloured corduroy that frays as you wear it. Released on Air Max Day, it comes with changeable velcro patches for the tongue and a choice of three laces. Despite a more extensive release in 2018, the 1/97 proved so popular that the re-sale price only gets higher and higher.
So there you have it. Five beautiful trainers you could wear on your big day out at the bankruptcy court.