Sneaker collecting requires vigilance and a lot of free time at the laptop—so it’s no surprise it’s been one of the few areas of commerce that’s been humming along during the otherwise crippling COVID crisis.
Major drops have created buzz—the recent release of Off-White Air Jordan 4 “Sail” already commanded over US$1,000 on the resale market at last check. And sites like eBay have provided a welcome distraction for sneakerheads out there.
For Canadian photographer, artist, and influencer Briony Douglas, kick-hunting has been a mood booster during lockdown.
“I want to do things that make me feel happy—and buying sneakers does that,” she says from home in Toronto. “It’s like a game. Or a hobby.”
Her skill at hunting down rare finds, not to mention her eye for Instagrammable style, have led to her being named one of the head curators of eBay’s new #eBayedits, in which Canada’s top tastemakers showcase their favourite finds, from home décor to sports memorabilia. Douglas brings her knowhow to the Shoes and Collectibles category, with her recent spotlighted finds including Jordan IV Retro NRG Hot Punch basketball shoes in screaming-hot pink and classic-cool Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star 70s Hi Fear of God Blacks.
Douglas has always had a love of all things sneaks, but it kicked into an even higher gear two years ago when she was asked to photograph Anna Wintour’s Vogue x Nike AWOK Air Jordans collab. The influential editor-in-chief’s iconic leather-and-tweed style marked a new era of high-fashion takes on athletic footwear.
As for Douglas, she’s been hooked ever since, sometimes working collectible kicks right into her sculptural art: her 2019 exhibit Homage paid pays tribute to symbols like Michael Jordan’s “Jumpman” or Kanye’s Bear through vintage-store and eBay finds, including sneakers themselves.
She also, of course, wears her finds—notable for their vibrant colours—rocking them as often with dresses as she does with jeans.
“For myself, I don’t usually wear heels—I don’t feel comfortable in them. I don’t feel like myself,” she explains. “I wear sneakers with gowns. You have to be comfortable.”
Of course, those are just the sneakers in her collection that will actually touch her feet. As Douglas puts it, “You’re gonna have your shoes you will wear forever, and then there are the ones for flipping.”
Douglas knows all the tricks when it comes to tracking down and bidding on rare editions—a hunt that’s especially challenging when so many big drops are only released south of the border.
“We don’t have it easy here in Canada when it comes to sneaker drops,” she says.
That’s where eBay comes in—probably one of the first places that coveted pair of Air Jordans or Adidas Yeezys is going to appear. The resale site has become one of the main hubs for reselling sneakers. There, the most coveted kicks can even command prices in the range of $100,000—think Drake’s spin on the highly valued Air Jordan 12.
For the rest of us trying to track down recent U.S. drops, it’s still within the realm of possibility to find an affordable pair. You just need to strategize.
“It is going to be more expensive than the original price, but I can sell an old pair to try to pay for it,” she explains. “Timing is everything. If something drops Saturday at noon I’m not going to buy it at 1 p.m. because prices will be insanely high. Also the time of year matters; sometimes people will sell for money before Christmas. And right now, with the economy the way it is, it’s a free-for-all.”
Beyond keeping an eagle eye out for coveted styles to turn up on eBay, do your diligence when it comes time to buy, she advises.
“Make sure you look at the person you’re buying from. I look at their history,” Douglas says. “Look into whether that is a shoe that is often a fake. A way to check that is to look for a tag and also look for a tag on the box; make sure the serial number on the box matches the number on the shoe.”
Such skills have helped Douglas nab favourites like her Air Jordan OG Melody Ehsani cherry-themed kicks, or her multicoloured Fearless Ones by the same designer. The latter mismatched pair is featured on her current favourites at #eBay edits, going for about $1,850, complete with old-watch emblems; colour blasts of habanero red, green, orange, and pink; and the hand-lettered quote on the midsole that reads “IF YOU KNEW WHAT YOU HAD WAS RARE, YOU WOULD NEVER WASTE IT.”
But there are still sneakers that elude her—including a pair of Jordans by luxury streetwear designer Virgil Abloh that run well into the thousands. “Those are the ones that I’ve had my heart set on for months now,” she laments.
At least the enforced pause of the COVID era allows for a little more time for patient watching and waiting—ever ready to pounce.