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Sneakers are achieving collectible status

They are cool and can be profitable if rare and held for a while
Dec 23,2019
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People crowd in front of Lotte Department Store in central Seoul in January to purchase the limited Run Star Hike of Converse x JW Anderson. [LOTTE SHOPPING]
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From top to bottom are limited editions of Krush Bis from Ash, the trainer edition of Boss x Meissen and Off-White x Nike Chuck Taylor 70s.
Kim Han-joon, a 31-year-old office worker, purchased a pair of Nike Air Force 1 Par-Noise for 219,000 won ($190) last month. The sneakers were developed in collaboration with G-Dragon of Big Bang, who was recently discharged from mandatory military service. Only 10,000 pairs were manufactured globally, which raised interest in the shoes both inside and outside of Korea.

“The competition to purchase these sneakers is super high,” said Kim. “People say you had to have saved a country in a previous life to get your hands on them.”

Kim said he had to wait more than 12 hours at a shop in Hongdae, western Seoul, to buy them.

Despite all the effort, Kim is thinking of reselling the shoes. After he bragged about them on social media, he received messages from people interested in buying the shoes. “I’m thinking of re-selling them for around 520,000 won,” said Kim.

There are many people just like Kim.

In January this year, crowds formed at the main Lotte Department store in central Seoul, where Off-White x Nike Chuck Taylor 70s were sold.

Young people didn’t hesitate to wait in line a day ahead of the scheduled start of sales. They called the experience of waiting in line “camping.”

The shoes were sold out in three hours.

Earlier this month, Lotte exclusively sold Converse’s Run Star Hike x JW Anderson. A thousand pairs were sold out in eight hours.

They went initially for about 100,000 won, but they are now being resold at three times that price online.

A growing number of people have turned to fashion as an investment strategy.

Chanel’s Vintage 2.55 Classic Medium, a handbag, was sold for 3 million won in 2007. In 2009, the price rose to 4.9 million won, and it further rose to 6.8 million won in 2012. This year, it is sold for around 8 million won. Louis Vuitton’s Speedy 30 Damier, also a handbag, sold for less than 1 million won in 2007. It now sells at 1.32 million won. Cluny BB from the same brand went for 2.9 million won in 2015, but it is now selling for 3.53 million won.

According to Thredup, a U.S.-based online thrift store, the resell market worldwide will grow to 48 trillion won next year from 28 trillion won last year. Reselling has grown from simply exchanging products and money to a kind of collectable business.

The collectable sector has now expanded to sneakers.

Brands like Off-White, Nike, and its Air Jordan sub brand, as well as the Adidas Yeezy Boost series are particularly well-received in Korea. Nike shoes made in cooperation with contemporary artist Tom Sachs hit the market in the 100,000 won range. They now go for 4.5 million won.

To capture the demand, retailers are striving to offer limited editions. At the Lotte Premium Mall, the Korean limited edition of Krush Bis from Ash and the trainer edition of Boss x Meissen are being sold this month.

BY KWAK JAE-MIN [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]