Sneakerheads in the US have been selling, buying and verifying sneakers through marketplaces such as StockX and Goat.
In particular, StockX received US$110m C round from DST, General Atlantic and GGV, pushing its valuation above US$1b. Goat, on the other hand, received US$100m corporate round from Foot Locker, making its total funding almost US$200m.
As usual, all these companies have their counterparts in China. 毒(‘Du’, or poison), the biggest in the country, also became unicorn after receiving investments from DST earlier this year; while the second biggest platform, community-based Nice, has a valuation of US$600m after a funding round this June. A third platform, DoNew, also received tens of millions of funding earlier this year.
In China, the sector took a step further to become … exchanges.
Seizing the opportunity, many of the crypto exchanges have added sneakers to the list of traded items:
Some even went a step further to add sneak derivatives:
There is now a saying: “Those born in the 1970s trade apartments, those born in the 1980s trade stocks, 1990s trade cryptos, while us who were worn after 2000 trade sneakers.”
The major sneaker platforms, including Du, see their GMV skyrocket because the increased trading frequency and high value of each item traded.
Too much crypto talent
But why would sneaker trading suddenly become so hot? One reason is, after the crypto craze is over, many in the circle are looking for the ‘next big thing’ to trade. A lot of entrepreneurs rushing into building crypto exchanges are also looking for a way to keep their teams afloat.
Just like when the first wave of social selling craze crashed, many of the participants went to look for alternatives, in a way propelled platforms like Yunji to new heights never seen before.
The sneaker craze would probably not last for very long, but enough for sophisticated market participants to make some good money.
Not to forget the even more sophisticated sneaker forgery industry in Southern China – many counterfeit sneakers are almost the same as the authentic ones.
And it is hard for government regulators to do anything – in fact, figuring out who should regulate this market is already a big headache.