The Ultimate Guide to Collecting Vintage Sneakers

If you are a fan of sneakers, you might have noticed that some of the most sought-after pairs are not the latest releases, but the ones that have been around for decades. These are vintage sneakers, or shoes that were made before the year 2000, according to some collectors. Vintage sneakers are not only stylish and comfortable, but they also have a rich history and cultural significance that make them more than just footwear. They are pieces of art, memorabilia and investment.

In this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know about collecting vintage sneakers, from how to start your collection, how to find and buy rare gems, how to store and care for your precious kicks, and how to sell and trade them for profit or pleasure. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned collector, this article will help you take your sneaker game to the next level.

The Ultimate Guide to Collecting Vintage Sneakers

The Ultimate Guide is a comprehensive resource that covers everything from the history and culture of sneaker collecting to the practical tips and tricks of finding, buying, storing, caring, selling and trading vintage sneakers.  Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned collector, this guide will help you take your sneaker game to the next level. You will learn how to:

  • Identify and appreciate the most influential sneaker brands and models
  • Source and authenticate rare and valuable vintage sneakers
  • Clean and restore your vintage sneakers to their original glory
  • Protect and preserve your vintage sneakers from damage and deterioration
  • Display and showcase your vintage sneakers in creative and stylish ways
  • Determine the value and demand of your vintage sneakers in the market
  • Market and list your vintage sneakers for sale or trade
  • Ship and exchange your vintage sneakers safely and securely

By following this guide, you will not only enjoy collecting vintage sneakers, but also contribute to the sneaker culture and community. You will discover new friends and connections who share your passion and interest for sneakers. You will also discover new aspects of yourself, as collecting vintage sneakers can be a form of self-expression, identity and creativity.

Collecting vintage sneakers is more than just a hobby. It is a lifestyle, an art form and an investment. It is a way of celebrating the past, embracing the present and anticipating the future. It is a way of connecting with yourself, with others and with the world.

History of sneaker culture

Before we dive into the details of collecting vintage sneakers, let’s take a look at how sneakers came to be and why they are so popular today. Sneakers are shoes that are designed for sports or casual wear, usually with rubber soles and canvas or leather uppers. The term “sneaker” was coined in 1917 by an advertising agent who noticed that these shoes made no noise when walking, unlike the hard leather shoes of the time.

Sneakers have been around since the late 19th century, when they were first used for tennis, croquet and other outdoor activities. However, it was not until the mid-20th century that sneakers became a cultural phenomenon, thanks to the influence of sports, music and fashion.

Sports

One of the earliest examples of sneakers becoming a symbol of sports excellence was in 1936, when Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics wearing a pair of Dassler shoes, made by a German company that would later become Adidas. In the 1950s and 1960s, basketball players such as Chuck Taylor, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain popularized Converse All Stars, which became known as “Chucks”. In the 1970s and 1980s, running shoes such as Nike Cortez, Adidas Stan Smith and New Balance 574 became icons of fitness and lifestyle. In the 1980s and 1990s, basketball shoes such as Nike Air Force 1, Air Jordan 1 and Reebok Pump became synonymous with style and performance.

Music

Another major factor that contributed to the rise of sneaker culture was music, especially hip-hop. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rappers such as Run-DMC, Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J wore Adidas Superstars, Puma Suedes and Kangaroos as part of their street style. They also rapped about their love for sneakers in songs such as “My Adidas” by Run-DMC and “I Need Love” by LL Cool J. In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, artists such as Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and N.W.A wore Nike Air Max 1, Air Jordan 3 and Air Jordan 4 as symbols of rebellion and attitude. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, artists such as Jay-Z, Eminem and Kanye West wore Timberland boots, Nike Air Force 1 Low and Nike Air Yeezy as expressions of their success and influence.

Fashion

The third element that shaped sneaker culture was fashion, both high-end and streetwear. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Helmut Lang and Raf Simons incorporated sneakers into their runway shows, creating a fusion of sportswear and couture. In the mid-1990s and early 2000s, brands such as Supreme, Stussy and BAPE collaborated with sneaker companies such as Nike, Reebok and Adidas to create limited-edition collections that blended street style and luxury. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, designers such as Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens and Balenciaga created their own versions of sneakers, reinventing them with avant-garde shapes and materials.

How to find and buy vintage sneakers

Now that you have a brief overview of sneaker history, you might be wondering how to find and buy vintage sneakers for your collection. There are many sources of vintage sneakers, both online and offline, but they each have their pros and cons. Here are some of the most common ones:

Online platforms

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to find and buy vintage sneakers is through online platforms, such as eBay, Grailed, Depop, StockX, GOAT and Stadium Goods. These platforms allow you to browse through thousands of listings from sellers around the world, compare prices and conditions, and bid or buy instantly. Some platforms, such as StockX and GOAT, also offer authentication and verification services, which ensure that you receive authentic and quality products. However, online platforms also have some drawbacks, such as high fees, shipping costs, potential scams or fakes, and lack of personal interaction.

Offline stores

Another option to find and buy vintage sneakers is through offline stores, such as consignment shops, thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and auctions. These stores allow you to see and touch the products in person, negotiate prices directly with sellers, and discover hidden gems that might not be available online. However, offline stores also have some challenges, such as limited selection, inconsistent availability, variable quality, and difficulty in finding specific models or sizes.

Online communities

A third way to find and buy vintage sneakers is through online communities, such as forums, social media groups, blogs and podcasts. These communities allow you to connect with other collectors and enthusiasts who share your passion and knowledge for sneakers. You can learn from their experiences, get tips and advice, and access exclusive information and deals. You can also buy or sell directly with other members, which can save you time and money. However, online communities also require some caution, as not everyone is trustworthy or reliable. You should always do your research before making any transactions, and use secure payment methods.

How to store and care for vintage sneakers

Once you have acquired your vintage sneakers, you need to store and care for them properly to maintain their value and condition. Vintage sneakers are not like regular shoes that you can wear or toss around without consequences. They are delicate and susceptible to damage from factors such as light, heat, moisture and dust. Here are some tips on how to store and care for your vintage sneakers:

Storage

  • Store your vintage sneakers in a cool, dry and dark place to prevent fading, cracking or mold growth.
  • Store your vintage sneakers in their original boxes or clear plastic containers with silica gel packets to absorb moisture and prevent odors.
  • Store your vintage sneakers with shoe trees or stuffing to keep their shape and prevent creasing or deformation.
  • Store your vintage sneakers separately from each other to avoid rubbing or staining.

Cleaning

  • Clean your vintage sneakers regularly with a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt or dust.
  • Clean your vintage sneakers gently with mild soap or detergent and water to remove stains or marks.
  • Clean your vintage sneakers thoroughly with specialized products or services to restore their color or shine.

Restoration

  • Restore your vintage sneakers carefully with professional tools or skills to fix minor issues

such as loose soles, holes or scuffs. However, you should avoid attempting to restore your vintage sneakers with major issues such as tears, cracks or missing parts, as this might ruin their value and authenticity. You should consult a professional restorer or cobbler for such cases.

How to sell and trade vintage sneakers

If you want to sell or trade your vintage sneakers, either to make some money or to acquire new pairs for your collection, you need to know how to determine their value and demand, how to market and list them for sale, and how to ship and exchange them safely. Here are some tips on how to sell and trade vintage sneakers:

Value and demand

  • The value and demand of vintage sneakers depend on several factors, such as rarity, condition, age, brand, model, colorway, size and market trends. You can use online platforms such as StockX, GOAT and Stadium Goods to check the current prices and sales history of similar pairs. You can also use online guides such as Sneakers: a collector’s guide by Christie’s 1 or The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Sneaker Collection by MR PORTER 2 to learn more about the history and significance of different sneakers.
  • The condition of vintage sneakers is usually graded on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being deadstock (brand new and unworn) and 1 being beaters (worn out and damaged). The higher the condition, the higher the value. However, some collectors might prefer sneakers with some signs of wear and tear, as they add character and authenticity. You should always be honest and accurate about the condition of your sneakers when selling or trading them.
  • The size of vintage sneakers can also affect their value and demand, as some sizes are more common or popular than others. Generally, sizes that are too small or too large are less desirable than sizes that are in the middle range. However, some collectors might be looking for specific sizes that fit their feet or their display cases. You should always measure and label your sneakers correctly when selling or trading them.

Marketing and listing

  • The marketing and listing of vintage sneakers are crucial for attracting buyers or traders and getting the best price or deal for your sneakers. You should use high-quality photos and videos that show the details and condition of your sneakers from different angles. You should also use clear and descriptive titles and descriptions that highlight the features and benefits of your sneakers. You should also include relevant keywords and hashtags that match the search terms of potential buyers or traders.
  • The platform you choose to market and list your vintage sneakers can also make a difference in your success. You can use online platforms such as eBay, Grailed, Depop, StockX, GOAT and Stadium Goods to reach a large and global audience of sneaker enthusiasts. You can also use offline platforms such as consignment shops, thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and auctions to reach a local and niche audience of sneaker collectors. You should choose the platform that suits your goals, preferences and budget.

Shipping and exchanging

  • The shipping and exchanging of vintage sneakers are important for ensuring a smooth

and satisfying transaction. You need to know how to pack and label your vintage sneakers properly, how to choose a reliable and affordable shipping service, and how to communicate and confirm with the buyer or trader. Here are some tips on how to ship and exchange vintage sneakers safely:

Packing and labeling

  • Pack your vintage sneakers securely in their original boxes or clear plastic containers with silica gel packets to protect them from moisture and damage. You can also wrap them in bubble wrap or tissue paper for extra cushioning. If you are shipping more than one pair of sneakers, pack them separately or use dividers to prevent them from rubbing or staining each other.
  • Label your vintage sneakers clearly with your name, address, phone number and email address. You can also include a note with a brief description of the sneakers, their condition and any special instructions or requests. If you are shipping internationally, you might also need to fill out a customs declaration form with the value and contents of your package.
  • Seal your package securely with strong tape and make sure there are no gaps or holes that could cause it to open or tear during transit. You can also use tamper-evident tape or stickers to deter anyone from opening or tampering with your package.

Shipping and exchanging

  • Choose a reliable and affordable shipping service that offers tracking, insurance and signature confirmation for your package. You can use online platforms such as eBay, Grailed, Depop, StockX, GOAT and Stadium Goods to print shipping labels and access discounted rates from various carriers. You can also use online tools such as Shippo, Pirate Ship and Easyship to compare shipping options and prices from different carriers.
  • Communicate and confirm with the buyer or trader before and after you ship your package. You should provide them with the tracking number, expected delivery date and any other relevant information. You should also ask them to confirm when they receive the package and inspect the sneakers. If you are exchanging sneakers, you should agree on who will ship first and when.
  • Use a third-party service or platform that offers authentication and verification for your exchange. You can use online platforms such as StockX, GOAT and Stadium Goods to send your sneakers to a team of independent authenticators who will inspect them before sending them to the buyer or trader. You can also use online services such as SwapSafe, SwapSneakers and SneakerCon that act as escrow agents who hold both parties’ sneakers until they confirm their satisfaction.

Useful Resources

If you want to learn more about collecting vintage sneakers, or find the best deals and offers on them, you can check out some of the following useful resources and multiple sellers:

  • Sneakers: a collector’s guide by Christie’s 1 – A comprehensive guide that covers the history, culture and market of sneaker collecting, featuring expert advice and stunning photography of some of the rarest and most valuable sneakers in the world.
  • The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Sneaker Collection by MR PORTER 2 – A practical guide that covers everything from how to talk the talk, how to spot fakes, how to clean and store your sneakers, and how to buy and sell them online or offline.
  • How to Resell Sneakers: The Ultimate Guide by FashionBeans 3 – A detailed guide that covers how to start sneaker reselling, how to find and buy limited releases, how to determine value and demand, how to market and list your sneakers, and how to ship and exchange them safely.
  • Sneakers: Complete Limited Edition Guide by U-Dox – A definitive guide that showcases the best limited edition and collaborative sneakers that have been released over the last decade, featuring illustrations, photos and stories of the most coveted and creative kicks.
  • Complete Guide to Collecting Basketball Shoes by The Cardboard Connection – A comprehensive guide that covers everything from the history and evolution of basketball shoes, the most influential brands and models, the best places to buy and sell them, and how to protect and display them.

1: https://www.christies.com/features/sneakers-collecting-guide-12552-3.aspx 2: https://www.mrporter.com/en-us/journal/fashion/ultimate-guide-sneaker-collection-10231224 3: https://www.fashionbeans.com/article/sneaker-reselling-guide/ : https://www.amazon.com/Sneakers-Complete-Limited-Editions-Guide/dp/0500517282 : https://www.cardboardconnection.com/guide-collecting-basketball-shoes

Conclusion

Collecting vintage sneakers is a rewarding hobby that can bring you joy, satisfaction and profit. However, it also requires some knowledge, skills and caution to avoid scams, fakes and disappointments. By following this guide, you can learn how to start or expand your sneaker collection, how to find and buy rare gems, how to store and care for your precious kicks, and how to sell

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