Lost in the World of Sneakers

Image from StockX

Ten weeks ago, I knew how to make a for loop but not a list comprehension in Python. Now, only one week away from graduation from General Assembly’s immersive Data Science class, I know how to create predictive models, use natural language processing to convert words into usable data, and cluster commonalities into groups. I’ve come a long way since that first day at General Assembly (which was really spent just setting up our working environments), and I’m most excited for what my next steps. But before I graduate, I have one last project to finish — my capstone.

The Power of Branding

I was unsure of what to choose for my capstone; it had to be data-accessible, have clear hypotheses, and have a ton of observations. I thought shoe sales would fit all three requirements. To my surprise, shoe sales fulfill none. But I was interested in the burgeoning market of shoes, so I persisted. I’m not a sneakerhead by any means. But one of my good friends works at Nike as a brand manager and keeps me up to date on all the new styles. Not because he’s trying to sell me, but because he genuinely loves Nike. The past few years, that love has rubbed off on me, and I can’t help but to be excited when a new and innovative pair drops from the two heads of sneakers, Nike and Adidas. We’ve noticed that in the past two years, Adidas has exploded in the aftermarket sales because of two product categories: the boosts and the yeezy’s.

Notice very little blue in 2015 compared to 2017.

This secondary culture of sneaker-loving, brand-recognizing, market movers fascinated me. My friends and past coworkers were shoe collectors, but I didn’t know about the underlying culture of why and how they collected. Fivethirtyeight wrote a great article about the effects of the branding on the side of the shoe to the sneakerheads. That article was written in 2014, before Adidas really entered the market. A data analysis on the effects that Adidas had on the overall resale market is in demand. Thankfully, I have the tools necessary to perform one.


For those who don’t believe that plain old sneakers can sell for much more than retail price, just look at this graph. The dashed blue line is a 1:1 relationship between retail and aftermarket price. If shoes on the aftermarket sold at retail price, they would fall along this line. But the majority of the points are above this line with some even reaching 8.5x their retail price (an Adidas Yeezy Boost 750)! I might be late to the shoe game, but the shoe game is here to stay.

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