Written by Nick Schonberger (@nschon)
Confession: I don’t skate, but I’ve bought Nike SBs.
In my time as a sneaker collector, I’ve also bought representative footwear from Adios, DC, Etnies, Globe, and Vans- well, from any brand producing shoes I felt had any cultural merit. I’ve bought these shoes from boutiques, mom-and-pops, and core skate shops. Most of the time, transactions have been amiable.
COUNTERPOINT: Skate Shops Should Sell Nike SBs for As Much As They Can
Tomorrow, Nike will release a high-cut version of the famed Diamond Supply Co. collaboration, the “Tiffany” Dunk. When it initially launched in 2005, it created a perfect storm of cross-consumer interest. The Nike SB Diamond Dunk low, with its robin egg blue contrasted against a tough embossed reptilian black, ignited the passions of skaters and sneaker collectors alike. It was the jewel of the "Manager's Series," a collection of Nike SB footwear designed by the team managers of several top-flight skateboard teams. When Diamond founder Nick Tershay's luxury spin on the iconic Dunk hit skate shops, it became an instant classic.
The shoe also spawned one of the first true sneakerhead memes, the “Tiffany Kid” (a dude dressed in an outlandish outfit to match the shoe), and ignited further debate about the authenticity of the buyers.
By 2005, I’d begun to limit purchase of SBs, but not for lack of interest in the releases. As the fervor for limited editions spiked, so too had prices. An added tariff above the box price emerged as standard. You could almost call it the non-skater tax. It was indicative of two things: the overall health of the skate industry and a knee-jerk reaction by shop owners to “protect the culture.”
As the fervor for limited editions spiked, so too had prices. An added tariff above the box price emerged as standard. You could almost call it the non-skater tax.
I faced this, as a consumer, when the HUF dunk high dropped in 2004. I was living in Wilmington, Delaware, getting paid to go to school, and spending every extra penny on sneakers. I bought deadstock classics and Jordans on Market Street, trainers at the Finish Line in Christiana Mall, and skate shoes as a spot called Kinetic located in a strip mall on route 202. My first SB pick-up was the black/true red lows. Box price, two months after initial release. I became friendly with the Kinetic staff. I picked up subsequent releases without an upsell, and they even held a few things for me if I happened to be out of town.
“There’s a lot of buzz around these,” I was told, in response to an inquiry about the Huf highs. “We’re going to be charging $200.”
In 2004, $200 for a sneaker was outrageous. To put things in context, I was buying Python Air Trainer 1s for $15.99 off sale racks and scooping retro Js under retail.
I didn’t let hype hold me. I declined and moved on. My SB collection pretty much ended there.
Price gouging was inevitable. I’d heard rumors of kids being made to kick-flip to prove they skated. I’d also heard murmurs that SB sales were essential to keeping shops afloat.