The official definition of a sneakerhead is someone who collects and trades sneakers for fun, but a true sneakerhead will tell you it goes much deeper than that. If you’re really into it, it’s more of a lifestyle than a hobby. Not only are you a collector, you’re a discerner, a historian, a fashion-forward individual and a connoisseur of the finer things in life. Let’s take a look at the rarest Nike shoes of all time.

Like the stock market, the value of shoes can fluctuate wildly. Obviously, rarity is what makes something popular but trends can also dictate the market. There are a couple things that are popular in Nikes in the last couple years. For example, retro and throwback styles are pretty popular due to ’90s and 2000s kids love of nostalgia. Collabs with rappers and basketball players are also high sellers; Eminem has one of the rarest Nikes of all time — with only 50 made in total.

There’s a big customization movement too. Nike in particular has an interface called Nike By You (NBY) where you can customize certain aspects of the shoe like the sole, tongue and outsole. While it’s not a “build from the ground up” situation, it still does give the buyer a bit more control over the process than normal. Finally we have style trends. Chunky shoes like the Nike Air Max series and High-Top styles like the Air Force 1 High are also very popular. This will of course change as styles and preferences change, but one thing won’t: rare shoes will always be coveted by collectors.

As for the sneakerhead lifestyle, some collectors won’t even wear their shoes and are content to just have them on display like a nice piece of art. Hell, to some people a good pair of sneakers is art, and to be honest Nike knows this. Nike, by the way, is the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes. It was started in 164 as a company called “Blue Ribbon Sports.” What started originally as a company that distributes Japanese Onitsuka Tiger shoes to America, and has grown into a multi billion dollar enterprise that employs almost 77k people around the globe. This is a company that knows value.

Nike Air Jordan 1 “Black/Red” (Banned)

Photo via X

These bad boys date back all the way to 1984. The story goes like this: Then NBA commissioner David Stern noticed Michael Jordan wearing the storied shoes and immediately banned them. The reason? Per Air Jordan logo designer Peter Moore, Stern “banned the red and black because he proclaimed that the red and black were not the color of the Bulls — the shoes didn’t meet the uniform standard.”

Price: $180 – $700

Nike Mag (Back to the Future Edition)

Photo via Nike

There are a few versions of this one, and the older the shoe the more prohibitively expensive they get. The first run in 2011 produced 1,500 pairs, which were auctioned off on eBay. Nike improved on the shoe for a 2016 run but released even less of them, with people forced to enter a lottery to get them. In 2019 they released a version to the general public with a semi-reasonable price tag of $350.

Price: $15,000 – $50,000 (for the rare ones)

Nike Air Yeezy 1 “Grammy Prototype”

Photo via eBay

It doesn’t get more rare than these. These prototypes were the same pair Kanye West wore to the Grammys in 2008. West designed the shoes with the creative director of Nike, Mark Smith. They’re size 12 with a “tonal” swoosh, leather top and West’s signature Y medallion. They sold for more than $1 million and were the first sneaker ever to do so.

Price: $1.8 million

Nike Dunk Low Pro SB “Paris”

Photo via X

These shoes came out in 2002 and Nike only made 202 of them. Every pair has panels cut from artist Bernard Buffet’s printed artwork. This means every single pair of them is different. They were made for a travelling exhibition and were going to be raffled off but things got too rowdy in the line. As an alternative, they were released at special retailers in Paris and people waited for days to get a pair.

Price: $10,000 and up

Nike Dunk SB “Freddy Krueger”

Photo via X

Known colloquially as the “greatest sneaker that never was,” Nike wanted to celebrate Halloween in 2007 with some horror themed sneakers. There were three movies used as inspiration: Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. The Krueger was pulled at the last minute due to a cease-and-desist letter from New Line Cinema. Legend has it that a very small number of them were smuggled out of the factory and are in circulation.

Price: $50kseveral million

Nike SB Dunk High “What the Dunk”

Photo via X

One of the more eclectic shoes out there, “What the Dunks” are created from 31 different Nike SB Dunks. SB, by the way, stands for skateboarding, and Nike made the shoes as part of a promotional campaign for the company’s skate movie Nothing But The Truth. It’s the ultimate dunk and the high top colorway is highly sought after. There are newer versions that are more affordable but the 2007 versions are super rare.

Price: $4,500 and up

Air Jordan 4 Retro ‘ENCORE’

There are supposedly on 50 of these in circulation, as they were given to Eminem to give friends and family. It’s a natural blue suede with black, grey and red accents. The tongue and heel tab also say ENCORE and Eminem. These incredibly rare shoes are so hard to get that even DJ Khaled had to wait years to get them.

Price: $55,000 and up

Air Jordan 11 “Derek Jeter” PE

Photo via X

There are rumored to be only five of these available. Nike made them to celebrate Derek Jeter’s retirement in 2014. They were available through a scratch-off lottery system at a pop up shop near Yankee stadium. One pair went for sale for $40,000 once, but the price is probably much higher now. They are blue suede and feature Jeter’s number “2” on the back.

Price: $40,000 and up

Nike SB Dunk Low “Heineken”

Photo via Reddit

These skater shoes were released in March 2003 and obviously inspired by the colors of the Heineken brand. It has a white leather base with an embroidered red star and a black swoosh. Interestingly, this was not an official collaboration with the beer company. Consequently, Heineken asked Nike to stop making them so there aren’t a ton of them around.

Price: $4,000 and up

Air Jordan 3 Interscope Records

Photo via Clyde Munroe

These were released in 2018 as a collaboration between the Air Jordan 3 and Interscope Records. It’s the first collaboration of its type, and it was made specifically to celebrate that year’s NBA All-Star Weekend. It features the Interscope logo on the heel and also the name on the laces.

Price: $4,800 and up

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