Everything You Need To Know About Rare Nike Trainers

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

So you think you’re into your trainers, and you want to know more? Look no further, in this guide we’ll be giving you the A to Z of everything Nike – from Air Max to Air Jordan. If you want to broaden you knowledge on the dense world of sneakers, now is the time. 

A Brief History of Nike

Nike are undoubtedly the biggest sports brand in the world, and they have an impressive history. Founded in 1964 and originally named “Blue Ribbon Sports”, the company was initially just a distributor for Onitsuka Tiger (the brand we know today as Asics). Then, in 1971 the brand officially became “Nike” as we know now.

Vintage Air Max ad

The name Nike comes from the Greek goddess of the same name, and it’s pronounced “ny-kee”, much to some people’s bemusement. In the following years, Nike went on from being a small new business to being one of the largest multi-national companies in the world – their current estimated net worth is 28.1 billion dollars. They have deals with hundreds of major sports stars and pretty much dominate the footwear market.

Nike As We Know It Today

In the present day, Nike can be seen on athletes worldwide regularly, and on the feet of your average person most likely. The brand is also one of the most prominent in the world of fashion footwear. Having a good pair of Nike’s on your feet is like a status symbol. Nike arguably started the “Sneakerhead” movement too – a term for someone who collects and wears rare, vintage or limited release trainers. This is going to be the focus in this article, the world of rare sneakers, their insane resell prices and what goes down when a new release drops.

Crepe City Spring 2017

Notable Silhouettes

Throughout the years Nike has released hundreds, if not thousands of different styles of sneakers, and each in a handful of different variations and colourways. However only certain shapes have remained absolutely timeless and still relevant today.

Air Max 1

First launching in 1987, making it exactly thirty years old, the Air Max 1 was the first ever Air Max model to release. Nike designer Tinker Hatfield pioneered the project, using the Air technology created by NASA engineers. This wasn’t the first time Nike had used the Air technology, but it was the first time it was visible. From a project that Hatfield worked on outside of his design brief and nearly got fired for, came arguably the most iconic sneaker of all time.

Nike Air Max 1 University Red

Air Jordan 1

Making it’s debut in 1985, the Air Jordan takes it’s name from the famed basketball hero of the same name – Michael Jordan. Originally, Michael hated the shoe, remarking “I’m not wearing those, I’ll look like a clown”. Eventually, they grew on him and it was the start of a heroic legacy between the NBA star and Nike. The Jordan brand is still going strong, with an immense back catalog of releases and Michael Jordan still reportedly earning 60 million dollars annually in royalties from Nike, despite having not played basketball professionally since 2003.

Air Jordan 1

Air Force 1

Outdating both the aforementioned trainers, the Air Force 1 started it all. The first Nike sneaker to feature the air pocket technology that we know and love today. Apparently taking it’s inspiration from a Nike hiking boot, the 1’s were initially developed as a basketball court shoe. But that didn’t stop it fast becoming an iconic, fashionable trainer. Still one of the most relevant silhouettes today, sneakerheads go mad for a decent pair of Air Force’s.

Air Force 1 Vlone

Sneakerheads and Rare Nikes

Streetwear and Sneakers have pretty much created their own subculture today. It’s a competitive world that involves entering raffles, queuing for hours and knowing the right people to get your hands on the latest release. Some collectors have hundreds of pairs, some never even worn that are worth tens of thousands of pounds on the resell market.

Sneaker Queue NikeLab

Resell Market

It sounds unbelievable to the uneducated person that a pair of rare Nike trainers could sell for thousands of pounds, but it is in fact true. Facebook groups, dedicated sneaker selling sites and eBay are all full of Nike sneakers that you can’t find anywhere else. Some up to 20 years old, and never worn. The resell market continuously fluctuates, with prices going up or down depending on demand. There’s also dedicated events such as the famous Crepe City, where sneakerheads from up and down the country unite, and bring their collections to buy and sell, or simply to show off.

Sneaker Collection

The Rarest Nikes?

A question a lot of people want an answer to, is what is the rarest pair of Nikes of all time? Well, if you have any interest in cinema or popular culture, you’ve probably seen them before. Remember Back to the Future? The cult classic featured lead character Marty McFly wearing a pair of futuristic Nike self-lacing sneakers, the Air Mag. In 2016, 89 pairs of these released worldwide through an online draw. Getting hold of a pair was almost impossible due to the high volume of demand. The shoes feature the fabled self lacing technology, and now resell for upwards of 30,000 dollars. So unless you’ve got a serious Nike connect or you’ve won the lottery, the chances of you getting a pair are slim.

Nike air mag

Following closely behind comes an awesome three way collaboration released in 2015. The Jordan brand teamed up with hip-hop legend Eminem and workwear classics Carhartt for a special edition Jordan IV. Only 10 pairs of the shoe were made, and all were auctioned for the Literacy Through Songwriting Charity. During the initial auction, the pairs sold for between 187,000 dollars and 30,000 dollars. Most of these pairs were sold to extremely wealthy people, who just wanted to donate to a great cause. If you want to purchase a pair on the resell market you’re looking at slightly less, around the 12,000 dollar mark to be exact.

Jordan Eminem Carhartt

Supreme Collaborations

If you’re into your streetwear or not, no doubt you’ve heard of Supreme NYC, definitely the most notorious street brand in the world. Known for their ridiculously hard to obtain box logos, Supreme has hundreds of people lining up outside it’s stores every Thursday to get the latest release. Supreme have a long running relationship with Nike, since their first collaboration in 2002 they’ve released a new team effort nearly every year.

Nike x Supreme 98

The original Supreme fanbase wasn’t happy about the brands joining forces, fearing Nike would drift the NYC brand away from their skateboarding heritage. Fast forward to the present day and this has happened anyway, not necessarily due to Nike. The average Supreme consumer these days is a typical streetwear kid. Therefore Nike collaborations are always a hit and guaranteed to sell out instantly.

Nike x Supreme af1

Recent Releases

Rare Nike sneakers release pretty regularly, you’ll find a couple of queues a month outside London’s Nike Town on Oxford Circus, the biggest Nike store in the world. Or if you venture a little further East you might find some dedicated trainer fanatics camping outside NikeLab 1948 on the streets of Shoreditch. Here’s a recap of some of the biggest releases of this year.

Nike x VLONE Air Force 1

Probably the most talked about release this year, ASAP Bari’s own clothing label VLONE recently collaborated with Nike. The launch saw NikeLab 1948 turn into an entire VLONE pop up shop for the weekend, with queues 3 days in a row. Alongside the stupidly limited sneakers, the store stocked the iconic V logo t shirts and hoodies, along with limited edition bags and accessories.

Nike Vlone on foot


Nike Vlone Queue

Air Jordan x KAWS

A collaboration that was teased months before, making sneaker fans drool at the thought finally dropped earlier this year in March. This isn’t the first time Nike has collaborated with American pop artist KAWS, they dropped the famed Air Max 90 x KAWS in 2008. However this is the first time the Jordan brand has done such a release. Featuring KAWS motifs all over the shoe, and a luxury green suede, the hype created beforehand was insane. When it finally dropped via a raffle release at Patta London, the first attempt was actually shut down by the police.

Jordan Kaws

Selling Events

You might of heard of the Facebook group Crepe City Sneakers, an online marketplace where sneaker enthusiasts can buy and sell their rare sneakers. It’s created quite a large following with 60,000 likes on the page. The creators of the group have been hosting a real life trading event for a few years now. It’s held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, and sneakerheads from up and down the country, and even abroad religiously attend.

Crepe City Sneakers

Similar events are held all over the country and in other countries worldwide. Crepe City was the first, and some argue the best, but other mentionable events such as Sneakerness, Laces Out and SneakerBox are all worth a mention, gathering huge crowds in different cities. If you’re looking for a particular pair of rare Nike sneakers, heading to one of these events would be a step in the right direction. Even if you can’t find the pair you’re looking for, there’s guaranteed to be something that’ll catch your eye, with plenty of bargains to be had also.

Tracking Down That Special Pair

So a lot of people wonder, what actually is the goal of a sneakerhead? Do shoes make them happy? Short answer, yes. But a lot of these collectors will tell you about their “grail pair“, something I mentioned previously. Whilst picking up pairs along the way, the ultimate goal for them is to track down that one pair they may have seen a celeb wearing, or a release from years ago when they were a kid. Ask most collectors what their grail is and nine times out of ten it’ll be a a pair of Nike trainers.

Air Max 97 Off White

The truth is, Nike completely dominate the sneaker market. Adidas has caught up a little recently with the newfound Ultra Boost hype, but personally, I don’t think anyone is in the position to challenge the king that is Nike right now.

Future Releases

If before you read this guide you had no idea about the world of rare Nikes and sneakers, and now you want to get into the game, I’d check your wallet first. It’s an expensive habit and once you start it’s hard to stop, according to most hardened sneakerheads. We can however, give you the lowdown on some upcoming releases in case you might be interested.

Acronym Presto

Air Max 97 Marina Blue

The Air Max 97 has made a huge comeback recently, with the Silver Bullet colourway and it’s gold counterpart re-releasing earlier this year, and proving a huge hit with the fans. This retro colourway was last seen in 2010 and is particularly hard for collectors to track down. It’s been confirmed for a re-release in women’s sizes only this July, so if you have small feet you could be in luck.

97 marina blue


Being Nike’s brand new 2017 model, several new colourways of the VaporMax will be releasing this year, and once again Nike enthusiasts worldwide will be snapping them up in no time. Colourways expected to drop are “City Tribes“, “Chrome” and “Dark Team Red” to name just a few.

Vapormax team red

Air Max 1 Jewel “University Blue”

With the AM1 being such a classic design, any new colourway that drops creates a little hype. The jewel is definitely special though, with a mini swoosh on the side instead of the classic and a beautiful opaque sole. Nike have also worked on the shape of the AM1 this year, making it much more like the original, as die-hard fans were complaining it had changed over the years, making the shoe less aesthetically pleasing.

Air Max 1 Jewel

Everything You Need To Know About Rare Nikes

  • Rare Nikes are bought and sold most often on the resell market.
  • This happens online via exchange groups or at sneaker events.
  • Sneaker Events are held worldwide and attract crowds of trainer enthusiasts.
  • You’re not going to pick up a pair of rare Nikes cheaply, some sell for tens of thousands.
  • Releases happen a few times a month, you need to queue in advance or get lucky online.

Acronym Lunar Force

On That Note

If you started this article with little to no knowledge on Nike or sneakers in general, hopefully now you should have a little more knowledge in the field. It’s impossible to cover everything, as there’s been so many releases over the years I could write for days trying to document them all. If you’re interested and want to know more there’s tonnes more articles online, with plenty on the trainers section of our manual.

Where to buy a pair of Nike

Stadium Goods – Check the latest price – click here
StockX – check the latest price – click here
Flight Club – check the latest price – click here


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Feature image from Pinterest

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