Sneakers: how to deal with drops, cops and bots

Sneakers are big, BIG business. The $100bln global sneaker market is now bigger than anyone would ever have predicted. Its resale market is booming too; sneaker resale represents a global value of $6bln today and is projected to be between 15 and 25% of the primary market by 2030.

Sneakerheads have grown up and turned the sneaker market into a proper alternative asset class and new drops could be compared to IPOs of new technology stocks. (

There is a literally a pile of money wrapped around your feet, that is if you managed to get your hands on a limited-edition sneaker release of the right type. Big names like Nike and Adidas release only a select number of their newest, most hyped, sneakers. Think Nike Jordans or Yeezys and then scoring a pair and flipping those could get you 5 to 10 times the original purchase value immediately. And potentially much more than that if you are prepared to hold onto and sell later. At this level of profitability, sneakers have attracted a host of pro-traders into the sneaker drop and resale market. And nowadays sneakers are traded for - at times - mindboggling prices.

A recent example was the auction by Sotheby’s of Michael Jordans’s original, worn, autographed, 1985, Air Jordans which sold in May 2020 to a lucky buyer for a whopping $560,000! The buyer will expect to make a hefty profit on those sneakers at some point in the future.

Drops. The undisputed king of the most hyped limited edition sneaker releases is Nike, and more specifically its Jordan brand. Nike is dominating the league tables with 4 out of the top 5 most valuable sneakers all having the Nike swoosh on it. Asking prices can be pretty stratospheric; recent (recorded) sales data of the current top 5 most expensive resale models, show that even a small collection of sneakers can represent a small fortune (prices are for size 9/10 UK/Source:

  • Nike Air MAG BTTF – 2016, only 89 pairs were made: Last sale £36,850.
  • Nike Dunk SB Paris - Last sale £14,451.
  • Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Eminem Carhartt – 2015. Only 10 pairs made. Last sale £10,839.
  • Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October. The last collaboration of Kanye with Nike. This sneaker was so ‘hot’ when it was released in 2009 that even the receipts were selling for $500. The last sale for a size 9 was £7,225.
  • Adidas Human Race NMD Pharell x Chanel -2017, 500 pairs. Last sold for £4,336.

Cops. But the trick of course is how to get hold of a new, limited edition sneaker release. This used to be a game of contacts and whispers; of the sharp and streetwise operator who had his/her ear on the ground. But with the size and value of the market today, this strategy does not work anymore. New releases are found by bots almost exclusively.

Bots. Some people in the industry say that bots now handle 99% of the new drops. So instead of being awake all night, ready to pounce, LA time, on a new sneaker release in the first seconds of it coming out, you can make your life easier by renting a sneaker bot for a set period of time, or subscribe to a bot service to do the ‘copping’ for you. The bot you choose is sort of like a personal shopper, being in all the right queues at the right time and hopefully getting you that coveted new pair of sneakers.

Good bots for rent for short periods are @Cybersole and @Balko Bot. Then there are multiple bot subscription services. To name a few, top ones today are @NSB (Nike Sneaker Bot) at $499 a year; @AIO Bot at $395 (a one-off fee and $69 per every 6 months); and, better for European sites, there is @Ganesh Bot at the price of £550 a year.

The quantity of bots keeps growing and changing with the overall sneaker market. Bots base the value of their services on their success in securing sneakers from important new releases and share their successes on Twitter. Look to Twitter first to check how effective a bot has been in ‘copping’.

Buying a pair of hot sneakers seems like a proper full-time job and Artificial Intelligence is changing the game daily. Knowing your sneakers today means knowing your bots too. Happy copping!