Quit While You're Ahead, Virgil… Enough is Enough.
I'll be the first to admit it: Virgil Abloh deserves to go down in Sneaker History for his first set of Nike Collaborations, The Ten.
When Nike first announced their partnership with Virgil Abloh of the streetwear favorite brand, Off-White, the collection was quick to gain notoriety. Since then "The Ten" have all become some of streetwear's most coveted sneakers.
How could they not? They hit every box, going from neutral to bright colorways in the best, classic shapes. They were divided into two sets. The first, titled "REVEALING," included the Air Jordan I, Nike Air Max 90, Nike Air Presto, Nike Air VaporMax, and Nike Blazer Mid. Then they released "GHOSTING," which contained the Converse Chuck Taylor, Nike Zoom Fly SP, Nike Air Force 1 Low, Nike React Hyperdunk 2017m and Nike Air Max 97.
It has always been clear when looking at Virgil's sneakers for his own brand Off-White, or even for his work as the Men's Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton, that he saves his best shoes for Nike. Without the pressure of having to invent new shapes or start from scratch with new silhouettes, Virgil's "The Ten" were the perfect blend of inspiration and innovation.
Just look at the resale prices — the most telling indicator of a sneaker's success — and Off White Nike's remain among the most consistently expensive collaborations. It is not rare for pairs of The Ten to go for over ten times the retail price.
Off-White x Nike Sneaker collabs
But it's not just the aesthetic value or even the supposed genius of Virgil that makes resale prices soar. It's the exclusivity.
Here's the thing about The Ten (as with most coveted collaborations): They sell out. Fast. Even those of us (re: me) with little more than basic math knowledge understand the principle of supply and demand. With most popular sneaker collaborations made in extremely limited quantities with a single release date, it's no wonder StockX, Flight Club, Stadium Goods, or wherever else you buy your sneakers list prices astronomically higher than retail value.
It follows that the most limited releases have some of the highest resale prices. The White Air Jordan 1s go for over $4,000 on Stadium Goods. As do the ComplexCon Air Force 1s, and the Black MoMA AF1s resell for … $16,635.
However, the hype is dying down.
The same happened with Kanye West's Yeezys. When nobody could get them, everyone wanted them. And, while sales are still overall consistent, the massive hype of yore is almost forgotten. Certain specific colorways and shapes remain coveted, but it's telling that these are the ones with the fewest re-releases, the ones you're least likely to see on everyone in a KITH store.
Not to mention, since Kanye's Trump endorsement and subsequent presidential bid, wearing Yeezy apparel feels a little too close to wearing a MAGA hat for me.
Virgil, too, has had his own share of controversy. Most recently, much of the Black community expressed disappointment in his paltry $50 donation to Black Lives Matter causes at the height of summer. While the jury still remains out on whether all Black people need to be the ones at the forefront of racial justice movements all the time, the concern and criticism was immediate.
However, this community disappointment didn't seem to affect the sales of his highly anticipated Jordan 4 "Sails." I like to think this was just because it was an exquisite shoe. Even I lay in bed staring at the SNKRS app, hoping for the luck of the draw, predictably to no avail (those sneakers are reselling for between $879 and $1090 now, so it seems they are really not in my future).
Jordan 5 sails
But only months later comes the most recent release, the Jordan 5 "Sails." Jordan 5s are a less popular silhouette than any of the others Virgil has conquered before.
The 5s, however, are harder to pull off, and it's debatable whether or not Virgil did.
The Jordan 5 "Sails'' have grown on me since they were announced, but they're far from Virgil's best shoe. The color palette is almost unrecognizable from his signature, more minimal style, the flame-like detail on the side verges on juvenile, and only the hint of Off-White text and the yellow tag remain as flashy indicators of brand identity.
So while I was willing to forgive the oversaturation and my questionable feelings about Virgil for the gorgeous 4s, no such concessions were made for the 5s.
Maybe I'm the only one. Once again, this pair sold out on the SNKRS app within a minute, and resale prices are already up to $720 on StockX. But it's only a matter of time before the over proliferation of Off White shoes makes them redundant.
At this point I can't help but roll my eyes at every new headline announcing an upcoming Off White x Nike collaboration. Each new shoe feels like a money grab, a clout chase that deteriorates the value of the original Ten.
Virgil, if you're reading this, it's not too late. Quit while you're ahead. Please. Make one last shoe before you go, though, and make it your best yet. I'll be on the SNKRS app, in wait.
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