In five short years, it’s gone from a niche bookmark on a sneakerhead’s browser to being one of the most influential businesses in fashion. StockX is the place you go to find (or sell) the world’s most lusted after-sneakers and a whole lot more besides. It has exclusive drops to end all exclusive drops, and it’s grown so much that when hackers recently targeted the site, a reported 6.8m users may have been affected.
But how did it get that big in the first place? How does a second-hand sneaker shop get valued at $1 billion? To answer that question, you have to travel back to 2015.
Back then, a sneakerhead who wanted to offload a particularly coveted pair of trainers had limited options. The platforms for selling second-hand goods were outdated, unhelpful and, most importantly, easy for scammers to manipulate. Sneaker pricing expert Josh Luber found himself frustrated with the lack of ease and transparency in the resale industry, as did venture capitalist Dan Gilbert, who’d been watching his son pawn shoes on eBay with middling success.
The pair saw an opportunity to apply stock market mechanics to the resale market. Alongside businessman Greg Schwartz, they came up with StockX.
The site was an immediate hit, in no small part due to the fact that Gilbert was owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of America’s biggest basketball teams. “It meant that some of the organic relationships which came through helped us launch in a pretty big way,” says Derek Morrison, StockX’s director of Europe.
Early investors included Eminem and Mark Wahlberg; everyone from Lebron James to high-end jeweller Ben Baller have since released items through the site (billed as ‘IPOs’, Initial Product Offerings, due to the fact that customers’ bids set the price). Morrison joined last year, when StockX expanded into Europe. Fast forward to 2019, StockX is a billion-dollar company, one that is eyeing further expansion. Not bad for a shoe shop.
Although it’s not just shoes any more – the site has expanded to handbags, watches and streetwear too. The latter can include anything from T-shirts to umbrellas to designer toys, the only thing uniting them being scarcity. In a booming resale market where brands purposefully release limited runs of products, buyers will spend huge amounts of money to be one of the only people wearing those shoes, or that hoodie, or using that pencil-case.
“If something has a limited supply, whether there’s 10 or 10,000 of that thing, the market should dictate its value and its price,” Morrison says. That’s where StockX comes in.
How Does StockX Work?
The site is built more like a stock market than an auction platform. There are no bidding wars, no low-quality digital camera pictures, and (theoretically) no fake items. There’s just the product, a suggested price, and the option to sell or buy. On any given page, for any given trainer, you can access the data for every transaction which has ever taken place on that shoe.
Green and red curves indicate the market trends: is the style going up, or down? Buyers and sellers analyse these trends to know when to buy or sell. And in the middle of it all, StockX accept, authenticate and ship the goods – for a fee.
“A lot of people don’t like StockX, because they don’t trust it or they claim they’ve been shit on by it,” says Tahsin Sabir, one of the UK’s biggest sneaker resellers. Sabir cites a newly-announced ‘Luxury Import Fee’ and the recent, well-publicised data breach on the site, which saw millions of customers’ data ending up in the wrong hands.
The company were criticised for being less-than-transparent about the breach, with current CEO Scott Cutler eventually releasing a statement in which he said, “We take the trust you place in us very seriously, and this is not the kind of experience we want for our community.”
Hack aside, StockX is going from strength to strength, with Sabir saying that the site is “probably the biggest” method of selling trainers and streetwear in the UK (and, indeed, the world). Fact is, right now, reselling on StockX is a license to print money – as long as you know how to do it right.
Here’s our guide on the best tips, tricks and things to look out for, if you want to make money as a reseller on StockX.
Play The Sneaker Lottery
Paradoxically, one of the best StockX tips is to not buy on StockX. When new trainers or streetwear steals are given a limited release, it’ll tend to be done through a ‘raffle’ on the brand’s own site. These raffles are free to enter and, if you’re lucky, will allow you to purchase the goods at retail price – meaning an almost guaranteed profit at resale.
“It’s a risk/reward thing,” Morrison says. “There’s no risk in entering all these raffles, even if it definitely is a lottery ticket.” Sabir, who recently lucked out in the raffle for a few pairs of Yeezy Statics, agrees. “If you can get stuff at retail, you’re usually talking at least a £50 mark-up straight away,” he says. “I bought the Statics for about £180, and then resold them within a few weeks for £320.”
But Don’t Be Afraid To Buy At Resale
Retail-price shoes are incredibly hard to come by, meaning the most common trend among StockX resellers is trying to ‘catch the moment’ on release day. “It’s probably easier odds to find a shoe that’s in-demand, buy it on release day and then resell it later that year, than it is to get a raffle,” Morrison says. “I could probably name 10 shoes off the top of my head which, since December last year, are worth double what they cost at resale on release day.”
Of course, there’s no guarantee that a shoe will spike in value after release day, so Morrison advises picking up pairs that you wouldn’t be averse to keeping for yourself. (“Then you’ve got a shoe you’d want to wear, even if it doesn’t double in value.”)
A shoe’s value is all down to its level of ‘hype’, reflected in the StockX market trend. Like the actual stock market, this is difficult to predict. “It’s a really hard call, because not everything becomes hype,” Sabir says. “But, while you might take a loss, at the end of the day you can at least probably still sell a shoe for the price you bought it.”
Take Your Chances
Ask for hacks on how to use eBay, and people will tell you to post your auctions on a certain night, or search for misspelt designer brand names. But on a site like StockX, where items are categorised and authenticated and bids can stay up for months, these tricks don’t work. The good thing is, other tricks do.
“Because you can bid whatever you want to pay, there’s nothing stopping you just going and putting a bid up,” Morrison says. “If something is selling for £300 now, there’s nothing to say that someone won’t sell it to you for £250 later. So there’s no harm in putting those kinds of bids on things, and waiting.”
Don’t Undersell Yourself
On the seller’s side of things, the same approach applies: Sabir advises listing your items for slightly higher than the current market trend. “StockX takes a percentage of your fee,” Sabir says. “So I’ll usually put items up at a price which is a little more than the market price, with the StockX fee on top of that. I’ll be putting maybe an extra 15 per cent on top.”
As an example, Sabir uses the Nike Sacai, one of the most in-demand shoes of the moment. “The retail was about £160, and I was picking up pairs at resale for £230,” he says. “They’re now selling for around £380 on StockX, so I’ve stuck them on for £400, plus the StockX fee. That means about £450/£460.” Now that they’re up, Sabir can merely wait until people are willing to pay the price.
For more seasoned resellers, making real money is about playing the long game. This means being able to invest the capital you need into buying several pairs of trainers at resale price, then sitting on them until the time is right. “It’s the nature of economics,” Sabir explains. “People buy these shoes, then they wear them. This keeps happening, and the supply gets more and more limited. So, if you’re patient, you should make money.”
As for the best time to sell, Morrison says it depends on the shoe. “It could be two weeks. It could be two months. Most likely, it’s only going to get more expensive over time, as there’s fewer and fewer pairs. Whether that’s 1 per cent, 5 per cent, or 150 per cent more expensive, it’s hard to predict.”
As an example, he uses the recently-released Travis Scott Jordan 1s. “They were released in April for about £160, then they shot up to a £600-£700 resale as soon as they sold out.” At four times the retail price, that might seem like an obvious no-go for the discerning buyer – yet those who forked out are reaping the rewards. “Somebody told me that they just sold a pair on our platform for £1,500,” Morrison says.
Know Your Market
If you don’t know who Travis Scott is, you need to do your research. Same goes for Virgil Abloh, Supreme, and any of the other big names that command huge prices on the platform. Any of the Nike releases with Scott’s name on are gold dust, while Morrison admits that Off-White designer Abloh “still has the Midas touch”. He says the handbags Abloh designed for Louis Vuitton can go for as much as £8,000.
But it’s not just the names you need to know – an inside-out knowledge of the sneaker and streetwear markets can help you game the system in interesting ways. Take Kanye West’s formerly unparalleled Yeezy sneakers. “In the Yeezy market, it’s now only the regional releases which are doing really well,” Sabir says. “They did an exclusive Asian release and an exclusive European release, and you could double the price on them because StockX is predominantly American.”
Alternatively, there are good deals to be made by simply thinking outside the box. Take the recently-released Satin Jordan 1s, an exclusively-female style. Or not. “Because it was a women’s release, they only went up to something like a 9.5,” Sabir says. “There were very small numbers of those higher sizes, because it would be like getting a men’s size 15.” Yet men wanted these shoes too, and were willing to pay high prices for the more male-friendly sizes. “You’re talking £750 on StockX at the moment, when the retail was only £120,” Sabir says.
Alternatively, Ignore The Hype
If you’re looking to buy rare and desirable shoes on StockX, get in line – outside of the unaffordable recent releases, some of the most covetable styles on the platform reach truly astounding prices. “You’ve got the Yeezy Red Octobers, which go for several thousand pounds,” Morrison says. “The Chanel x Pharrell collaboration shoes go for between £5,000 and £10,000. The Nike SB Paris Dunks go for £10,000. And the Nike Air MAG self-lacing shoes from Back To The Future? They can go for £30,000.”
If those numbers make you break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry — a buyer who doesn’t care about ‘hype’ can actually see a lot of success on StockX. “There’s benefit in waiting until something goes cold,” Morrison explains. “I go through the website looking for old or interesting pairs that people aren’t thinking about, but that I know that I’d love to wear and didn’t get back then. I’ve gotten so many great deals on truly iconic shoes, because they’ve gone under-the-radar.”