The rise and rise of luxury sneakers

A pair of Michael Jordan’s 1998 shoes sold for £1.8 million. How did fancy trainers become the powerhouse they are today.

That old pair of stinky sneakers at the back of your shoe cupboard — how much would you hope to sell them for? A fiver? Two quid? How about £1.8 million? That was what Michael Jordan’s old Air Jordan 13s fetched at Sotheby’s last month, setting a record price for game-worn sports footwear. These were the shoes Jordan wore during Game 2 of the 1998 NBA finals, the tournament that saw the basketball star win his sixth and final championship title. Sotheby’s have not specified if they have ever been washed.

Michael Jordan’s Air 13s

Known as “breds” for their distinctive black and red design, these 25-year-old pieces of gym kit represent the booming sneaker culture whose collectors are willing to trade millions of pounds for sweaty old shoes. After that fateful game, Jordan gave his sneakers to a ball boy who worked for Utah Jazz — the losing team — although Sotheby’s would not confirm if it was he who sold the shoes last month. “We have clients in all different areas, from real estate, to finance to private equity,” said Brahm Wachter, head of Sotheby’s streetwear and modern collectables team, after the sale. “There are many people that are interested in this emerging market.”

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