In 1979 a New York Times article declared the sneakers trend “out of control.” But it wasn’t until six years later that Nike debuted the Air Jordan, selling $130 million of the shoes in the first year alone. Twenty years after that, the legendary New York Times photographer and style guru Bill Cunningham declared peak sneakerdom yet again, noting that young men were “rewriting the whole language of their fashion” with their kicks.
Which brings us to the present. As of the latest number, the athletic-footwear industry is a $17.2 billion one — the highest to date — and the resale market is worth over $1 billion. Could sneakers get any bigger? We’re not so sure. Take one look at the high-end sneaker market and it’s hard not to see a wildly unsustainable luxury product. From a $31,815 pair of the original Air Jordan III from 1988 to a high-tech self-lacing Swoosh for $89,000, here are some of the most ridiculous kicks out there.
10. Nike Air Jordan II Retro
The original Air Jordan II featured a full-length encapsulated Nike Air bubble for comfort and, unlike the AJ I sneakers, these were produced in Italy. They were released during the 1986-87 basketball season, and then re-released six more times. This pair is a retro 2013 release, and it was nicknamed “Legends of the Summer,” after Justin Timberlake’s tour of the same name. $12,000
9. Nike Air Jordan III Retro Unreleased
The Air Jordan III was promoted by the legendary “Mars and Mike” ad campaign that featured Spike Lee. Originally released in 1988, Nike has re-released seven retro versions of the AJ III. This pair, nicknamed “Drake vs Lil Wayne,” was released in 2014, during the rapper’s concert tour. $12,500
8. Nike Air Jordan XIV Retro Promo Sample
The Air Jordan XIV was inspired by a Ferrari M550 that was owned by Michael Jordan, and the pair has 14 Jumpman logos — seven on each foot. This pair is from 2016. $14,000
7. Nike Dunk High Le Wu-Tang
In 1985, before the Air Jordan I, the Nike Dunk was Nike’s first shoe to be worn off and on the court. In 1999, it changed the original design of the Dunk, into a skateboarder’s dream sneaker. This 1999 Wu-Tang Dunk High became one of the most sought-after sneakers in the world. It’s believed that Nike only produced 36 pairs. $15,000
6. Nike LeBron X Promo Sample
Released in 2013, this is a player-exclusive pair of sneakers. The tenth anniversary of LeBron’s signature line includes diamond-inspired details on top and a diamond-shaped tongue. This brand new pair does not come with its original box. $15,550
5. Nike Air Jordan V Retro Promo Sample
The Air Jordan V was originally released in 1990, and re-released four other times. Will Smith wore different colorways of the sneaker in his hit show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. $16,000
4. Nike Air Jordan IV Retro
Nicknamed “EMINEM x Carhartt,” this extremely limited edition of the Air Jordan IV features silver accents and a cloudy clear sole. It was released in 2015, as a tribute to the 15th Anniversary of the release of Eminem’s Marshall Mathers album. $23,000
3. Nike Air Jordan III
The second Air Jordan III in the list is an unworn and unlaced original pair from 1988, with some “cracks due to age. Not recommended to wear,” according to the seller. $32,460
2. Nike Air Yeezy 1 Promo Sample “BLACK GLOW”
Kanye West’s personal “one of one” sample pair was released in 2008. It has been valued at $150,000, but you are in luck: For about $70,000, you can get them today. The price even includes a two-gallon ziplock bag for safekeeping. $65,000
1. Nike Air Mag
Nicknamed “Back to the Future,” these futuristic-looking Nikes are helping the world to become a better place. Last year a pair was auctioned off for $200,000 at a New York City gala, with all proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. With foot-molding capabilities, and self-lace closures, this pair is one of 89 ever produced. $89,000
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