Sneakerheads are among the most fervent of collectors. When it comes to unique trainers, they’re not messing around! We all know someone who is particularly proud of their esteemed collection, and our obsession with trainers is only growing. Celebrities such as DJ Khaled, John Mayer, and Kylie Jenner are among the most high profile sneakerheads out there. These celebs regularly post pictures of their favourite trainers on Instagram, spurring on the trend that none of us are able to resist.
Some special trainers, however, have shown us just how far a sneaker obsession can go. A select few shoes have really captured collectors’ imaginations and have sold for unbelievable amounts of money. Whether a vintage limited edition or a pair of trainers worn by an A-lister, there have been some extremely sought-after men’s and women’s casual trainers over the years. Some have stood out from the rest, fetching record-breaking prices at auction.
Let’s find out which trainers have topped the charts and cemented their place in history.
5th place: Nike Air Jordan 12
Selling for an incredible £75,220 in 2016, these well-worn trainers proved the combined power of classic sneakers and celebrity endorsement. The shoes shot to fame after Michael Jordan wore them in 1997 for his famous ‘flu game’ (a game in which he managed to score 38 points despite being ill). After the game, Jordan gave the signed sneakers to a ball boy, who later made a hefty profit from the iconic shoes.
4th place: Nike Mag Self-Lacing Trainers
Inspired by a pop-culture classic, these fun and futuristic trainers fetched £143,580 in 2016. These sneakers were sold by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (which funds research into Parkinson’s disease), and they were designed based on Fox’s 1989 hit film, Back to the Future Part II. No true sneakerhead could resist getting their hands on their very own pair of self-lacing trainers!
3rd place: Nike Waffle Racing Flat “Moon Shoe”
The third most expensive trainers of all time were a pair of the extremely limited edition “Moon Shoes”, handmade by Nike’s co-founder, Bill Bowerman. This pair of historic sneakers sold for an impressive £314,075 ($437,500) in 2019. As the story goes, the sole of these early prototypes was created when Bowerman decided to experiment with his wife’s waffle iron. By pouring rubber into the waffle iron mould, the first ‘waffle sole’ was created – a major innovation in the trainer world. These particular sneakers soon became known as the “Moon Shoe” because of the resemblance between the waffle sole and the impression left on the surface of the moon by the astronauts who first made it there in 1969.
2nd place: Nike Air Jordan 1s
The signature of Michael Jordan, the undeniable king of sneakers, reappears in second place on these iconic Nike Air Jordan 1s. These trainers sold for £402,015.60 ($560,000) at Sotheby’s in 2020, breaking the record for the most expensive trainers ever at the time. When they went to auction, these shoes were only expected to fetch between £71,780 and £107,670, but they ended up selling for nearly five times that price. Michael Jordan’s signature in permanent marker on the right shoe certainly sweetened the deal, not to mention the fact that he wore these very trainers in a game in 1985.
1st place: Nike Air Yeezy 1
Michael Jordan, move aside. A new player has entered the arena. Earlier this year, the world record for the most expensive trainers was smashed once again with the sale of a pair of Nike Air Yeezy 1s for a breathtaking £1.2 million ($1.8 million). These A-List sneakers were worn by Kanye West during his performance of ‘Hey Mama’ and ‘Stronger’ at the 50th annual Grammy awards in 2008. One of the first pairs designed by Kanye West with Nike, these iconic shoes feature classic Yeezy design signatures, including the Yeezy forefoot strap and the “Y” medallion lace locks in vivid pink. This incredible sale blew the previous 2020 world record out of the water, nearly tripling the amount fetched by the Nike Air Jordan 1s.
Every one of these sneakers is iconic in its own unique way. From movie-inspired classics to pop-star sneaker royalty, they’ve all proved that people are eager to get their hands on famous trainers. There’s no limit to the amount of money that people will fork out for a once-in-a-lifetime auction opportunity! With the world record for the most expensive trainers being shattered on a yearly basis, who knows which major-league kicks will smash the record next?