Tech News : $50,000 Apple Trainers … Made of Gold?

2nd August 2023

Renowned auction house and brokers of art, collectibles, jewellery, and real estate Sotheby’s is selling a super-rare pair of Apple-branded trainers for a guide price of $50,000 (circa £39K).

A One-Time Giveaway In The 90s 

Sotheby’s says the Omega Sports Apple Computer Sneakers (Size 10.5 / 9.5 UK), boxed and with an alternative pair of red laces, were custom-made for Apple employees and were “a one-time giveaway at a National Sales Conference in the mid-’90s”. The trainers are white with the Apple logo on the side and an air-cushioned sole.

Explaining why they are so rare (hence the huge price tag), Sotheby’s says on its website: “Having never reached the general public, this particular pair of sneakers is one of the most obscure in existence and highly coveted on the resale market”. 

Thousands Purchased Clothing From Apple In The 80s 

What many people may not know is that more than 22,000 Apple customers purchased clothing and accessories from the brand in 1985 which were part of a short-lived ‘Apple Collection’. For products outside of Apple’s zone of expertise, the company partnered with leading brands (e.g. Honda and Braun) to apply the Apple branding to a variety of white label products.

Previous Pair  

A previous pair of Apple branded trainers, believed to have been prototypes and found in 2016 at garage sale in Palo Alto, California were put up for auction with a starting bid of $30,000.

The Rare Trainers Market 

There is a booming collectables market for rare trainers with cultural significance and scarcity being the factors that boost prices. Examples of trainers fetching particularly high prices include:

– In 2021, a Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype, worn by (rapper) Kanye West on stage at the 2008 Grammy awards were sold for a staggering $1.8 million!

– Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals Air Jordan 13 trainers sold at auction for $2.2 million. Also, a 1985 pre-production sample pair of Nike’s first shoe for former NBA basketball star Michael Jordan fetched $560,000 at auction in 2020.

Why? 

The market for rare trainers as investments and collectables is thought to have come about because, as generations from the 80s and 90s have become successful, trainers have become the cultural assets that they remember and value.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Apple was one of the earliest pioneers of a tech industry and from very humble beginnings has grown to become a $2.82 trillion company and one of the most recognisable brands, and traditionally has its own fan-like user base. As such, any of its early products have become rare and valuable commodities with a cultural significance. This value extends to its non-tech related branded products such as these trainers and the fact that that it’s unlikely that any other pairs have survived gives them a rarity boost in price, even though they were originally a free giveaway.

Scarcity and cultural significance are huge value-boosters in the rare trainer market which is part of an expanding range of investments for predominantly younger investors who value collectable products like trainers and sports cards which may only be a few decades old. In the digital world for example, newer investments have widened to include non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and, no doubt, other markets will develop in the near future for other products as wealthier people from advancing generations seek out collections and investments that have cultural significance and memories for them from relatively recent times.