As we’ve noted, you can buy certified classics at the mall. But if you want to buy most of the other sneakers discussed here—the one-off releases, the hot collabs, most any Yeezy—you’re going to have to navigate a slightly more complicated ecosystem. The sneaker world runs on hype and exclusivity; the latter basically produces the former. To maintain that state of affairs, brands employ the drop model, where shoes release in specific windows of time. (Perhaps you recognize the drop from the worlds of streetwear and high fashion, which have eagerly borrowed from sneakerdom’s time-tested method.) It’s why you’ll see kids camped out in front of stores, or why you might have burned a hole into your computer keyboard trying to log on at precisely the right time.
When it comes to actually getting your hands on a pair, you’ve got a handful of options. You can try the site, or mobile platform, of a given shoe’s producer: Nike’s got its SNKRS app, while Adidas uses Confirmed. Elsewhere, you can check out your local sneaker boutique, or the websites of those around the world. And keep an eye on their sites and social media accounts ahead of your chosen shoe’s release date—plenty of those shops run raffles for hotly-desired kicks. Enter away!
And when all that fails—we’re sorry; it probably will—you can head to the aftermarket. Sneaker resale is a thriving, multibillion dollar business premised on the idea that some sneakers are valuable enough to change hands multiple times before finding their ultimate homes, like investment vehicles throwing off interest. And depending on where you go, buying the pair you want can be as easy as one click—provided, of course, you’re prepared to pay a likely markup.
But each platform has its own specific quirks and efficiencies. For peace of mind, start with StockX: the platform only deals in brand new, unworn goods, and by treating its wares like stocks, allows buyers and sellers to set or request prices based on current demand. GOAT, meanwhile, offers up a similar service, with the added ability to shop for used sneakers as well. If you don’t mind a crease or two on your toe boxes, you might be able to uncover a killer deal on a pair of all-time grails. Grailed is more of a marketplace, with prices set not stock market-style, but by personal preference—so while it’s always got a handful of hot new drops from Jordan, Yeezy, and the rest, it’s unquestionably the best place to shop for high-end designer models from the likes of Rick Owens, Balenciaga, and more. If you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way—i.e. In-person, with the ability to see exactly what you’re buying, and maybe even try it on—Stadium Goods, with its brick-and-mortar locations in New York and Chicago, is the way to go. Finally: eBay. The pioneering online auction house has stepped up its kicks credentials in recent years in an effort to appeal to sneakerheads, with a team of independent authenticators on hand to inspect and verify every pair sold. —Y.G.