how to make loads of money selling sneakers on depop
We spoke to some of the app's reselling experts to find out how to make bank on your old sneakers.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.
If you’ve ever walked past a crowd of teenagers stood in the pouring rain, queuing for the new Yeezys and pitied them, it’s time to reassess your opinion. Chances are they made thousands of pounds reselling those trainers online. Rather than getting an underpaid retail job, serving tables to thankless customers, or Deliverooing their weekends away, hundreds of teens and equally skint millennials are instead earning a living doing what they love: copping trainers. And then reselling them, usually on Depop. Along the way, they're also learning the fundamentals of building a brand, social media marketing, photography, and finance. Instead of an unpaid internship shredding paper, they can make paper doing what they love.
If that's enough to make you quit your job already and embark on a new Depop based career, then at least read their advice first and prepare yourself for the fast paced, extremely lucrative world of selling your old shoes.
Jack, 26, Essex @ EssexKickz
I started collecting Air Max 97s when I was at college. I liked the idea of being different -- everyone else was walking around in Air Max 1s, 90s and 95s. When I got a fulltime job after college I didn’t get to wear trainers so much anymore so I started to clear them out. I noticed that when I put them on eBay, they were selling for at least double what I’d paid for them the year before, that’s when I noticed a gap in the market. The 97 silhouette was on the way up, but people didn’t know too much about it and they were still cheap to cop in certain places, it all started from there.
I never queue up outside shops because I have a demanding job and I value my time in bed. Instead, I buy stuff to resell on eBay, Gumtree, Shpock, Depop, boot sales, charity shops etc., but I reckon the best are those buy-and-sell Facebook pages where Mums sell second-hand babygrows for 50p. On ‘Things to buy and sell in Stratford and Canning Town’ I paid £5 for a pair of Air Max 97 Camo Lux, the seller clearly had no idea of their value. I picked them up from her house, took a picture as I stood at the end of her drive and posted them on the group Air Max 97 Enthusiast. I walked from the Olympic Village at Stratford to the station, sat on the train for 17 minutes back to Romford and when I got off and checked Facebook, the bids on the page were up to £195. They eventually sold for £270. 54 times what I bought them for.
Through trainers, I used to make about £2,000 a month profit. I did three Crepe City events and took £15,000 between them all. Through Facebook, I once bought 100 pairs of brand new in box 97s from a shop in Italy called Linea Sports. The deal in total cost me £7,000 and I remember selling every pair for at least double what I paid. It was crazy.
I still love 97s, the silhouette and colourways are great, however, people like exclusivity and now that they’re being restocked in Office, Footlocker, JD and all that, 97s have lost it. Yeezy seems to be standing strong and 95s will always be up there I think. It also seems as though Adidas is making a comeback. If you are looking for which trainers will sell well, find older pairs that are no longer produced, you can assume resale value based on how many pairs are available currently.
Sometimes my parents get a bit frustrated because our house is always full of second-hand shoes (Mum is a clean freak and sometimes complains about the smell) but they’re proud of my work ethic and initiative.
Taylor Richardson, 15, Newcastle @thebackroom__
How much I make on trainers varies. This month has been decent, I got two pairs of shoes and made £1000. The most I have made on a pair of trainers was around £1500 on the EU exclusive Off-White Jordan’s. I wore them myself for a bit, which usually depreciates the value, however the hype kept on rising with these. I bought them for £160 in a raffle, it was the first shoe I won and was really happy.
One time I camped two nights for Undercover X Reacts. It was my first camp (my parents weren't exactly thrilled about me sleeping outside as a 14-year-old). I didn’t have a tent as you weren’t allowed so I camped in a car with my friends. We ate McDonalds and used their 24 hour toilet, and I played on my Switch to pass the time. I ended up not getting the pair I wanted in my size -- the Nike X Undercover Green Mist -- but ended up getting the blue colourway and selling them for profit anyway.
The biggest mistake I ever made was with the Skepta X Nike Air Deluxe’s. I thought they were going to be very sought after as the previous releases were. I camped outside a shop for them, the retail price was quite low so I decided to keep a hold of them for a little while. In the end I sold them for way under retail at about £120 as I noticed the depreciation in value. Maybe they weren't so popular because the colourway wasn't great. It was this weird television static print. Also the silhouette wasn’t very hyped.
Anjelica, 25, Northampton
There's no way around it: in order to make money from reselling trainers, you have to get really good at trawling through the entire internet in order to find pairs that people want. I don’t tend to deal in 'Hype' footwear -- shoes like Off White/ Nike collaborations, or anything Yeezy -- as there are loads of people selling such things online so it can get competitive. Instead, I stick to classic models such as Air Max 97 or 98 and Air Force 1s. They go with so many outfits, so the demand is always pretty high.
Social media is a great platform for any small business as it gives you the ability to reach all corners of the world from the comfort of your own home. I sell my stock mainly through Instagram, and try to grow my accounts by putting business cards in with the sneakers when I send them to buyers. It’s better working online as then you don’t have all the overheads which come with a shop.
Sneaker groups on Facebook are useful as a guide to what to price to resell at. I would recommend The Sole supplier, Crepe city, Sneaker myth, Wavey trainers, Sneakerbox, Air max 95 ent, and Air max 98 ent. Good luck!
Kameron, 26, Birmingham @getemfromkam
When I started out in 2012, trainer reselling was seen as the worst thing you could do in the sneakerhead community. I was constantly being banned from Facebook groups for posting stuff for sale. Now it's completely changed. People respect reselling more because they see how difficult it really is; people will try it for 3 months see it ain’t easy and let it die. Now all those critics are trying to work with me.
There was a short period in time where China had a drought of the Adidas NMD, but here in England, there were loads of them. I travelled up and down the country collecting around three-hundred pairs of these shoes to send to shops in China.
When it comes to advice for new sellers, I'd say you can meet buyers and sellers through any occasion, so make sure to stay open minded and don’t judge people on what they wear. Some of the most dressed down people are the plug. One of my regular customers looks like he’s in his 70s.
Azure, 20, Buckinghamshire
The most important thing in the art of reselling is the ability to spot emerging trends. About two seasons ago, Kanye West and Virgil Abloh were releasing shoes that were neon coloured, and their resale value was much less than that of the same pairs in more agreeable colourways like black. Now go to any festival and you’ll see every other girl dressed like a highlighter, so the resale value of those shoes has skyrocketed.
Often in reselling you have to overcome your own personal taste and just think about the economics. The high resale value for shoes isn’t because of anything intrinsic. They’re hyped up and given to celebrities before they’re publicly released, the numbers produced are often deliberately limited and you have to take into consideration the simple contextual framework of supply and demand.
Luck helps, but as Antonio Garcia Martinez said, “hope is a shitty hedge”, and if you ever take a risk, you have to protect yourself. Adidas used to have a three month return period which was a really good way of being totally risk-free. Now that they have reduced it to two weeks, so I make sure I have a few potential buyers lined up who will purchase the shoes from me at a guaranteed price. That way I will make money no matter what.
I mostly buy trainers directly from Adidas or other sports shops like Footlocker and JD. Over the years I’ve established a strong network of bulk buyers so I don’t need to list on public platforms anymore but when I first started reselling, Facebook was massively important. People in the different streetwear communities can help you work out how much the resale margin will be on each model, sometimes there are leaks about the number of shoes that will be supplied and what similar models have previously sold for.
There are countless stories of people who have been scammed and oftentimes if you try and raise a dispute via Paypal for example, they will often side with the buyer regardless. One scam you see a lot is people buying shoes, saying they’re fake, and then keeping the originals and sending back a fake pair. Luckily nothing like that has ever happened to me because for the majority of the sales I’ve made, I have met with the buyer in person.
I’m now working as the Business Developer for Delivering The Hype, a company that focuses on exclusive designer clothing and footwear. We stock a number of stores around Europe and we are hoping to branch out into concierge services. “How much do you make per month from reselling?” is a question I get asked a lot but it’s difficult to answer because it varies. To put it into perspective though, while at university this year and living away from home I haven’t even needed to take out a student maintenance loan.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.