Best known for its footwear, Nike is the world's largest athletic apparel company. Founded in 1964, they have grown immensely, from releasing an entire range of sportswear to establishing its target consumers. With over 76,000 employees worldwide, they are among the most valuable brands amongst sports businesses. Considering the extensive financial opportunities, they have released some of the most expensive sneakers on the market.
First and foremost, their iconic Air Force One shoe, released in 1982, has come a long way. They have become an essential accessory in someone's wardrobe, able to fit in with almost any style aesthetic - from sports to streetwear. They are easily recognizable and easy to access, but for the model's 40th birthday, Nike went to pricey extremes to celebrate. In June 2022, Nike promoted the shoe model in New York's '40 for 40' sale at Sotheby's auction. The shoe model was unique in its collaboration with A-list brands, like the Nike X Louis Vuitton collaboration, which resulted in a $150,000 price tag. The pricey investment was valuable for future use, but only fashion fanatics would spend money on a shoe like this for everyday use. Similarly, when Nike partnered with Off-White, the shoe was sold for a staggering $35,280, designed in "University Gold."
One Nike collaboration that stood out as particularly wild was the Low-Lux Alligator collaboration. Yet, for any shoe-crazed buyer, this didn't matter. The value was high, and so was the cost - selling for the same price as the "University Gold" pair at $35,280. Only 25 pairs of this unique sneaker were made, adding significant value. Still, this was just before major fashion brands finally agreed to stop using rare animal skin in their products. For other brand associations, Nike used a little wordplay for marketing purposes. When collaborating with Low Retro Ekin, Sotheby "attempted to add depth" to the show, pointing out Ekin was Nike spelled backward. This declared the $21,420 with an orange tick to symbolize the "backwards and forwards product knowledge of Nike employees." Last but not least, Air Force One's cooperation with One Shady Records came out of hiding, selling the shoe for $21,420. The shoe was released in 2003 to "coincide" with Eminem's Encore album, representing the hip-hop 2000s aesthetic. Still, only real slim shady fans had access to the pair after launching.
Nike played their cards right. A shoe in high demand, like the Air Force Ones, is a business opportunity they can't miss. By branding themselves with luxury designers, Nike expanded their shoe worth by a mile. Not to mention, they landed themselves a place in one of New York's most prestige and private auction houses. Here's to future partnerships.