I really like Supreme’s upcoming collaboration with Nike on the Air Max Tailwind IV, a sneaker that first released in 20 years ago in 1999 and hasn’t seen the light of day ever since. Not only is it appealing because it’s an obscure Air Max that’s done in a hard-to-beat colorway, but because it’s a shoe that’s the antithesis of hype. It’s Supreme doing what Supreme wants and not catering to the incessant hype that’s bound to follow the brand anytime it works with Nike. It’s something we’ve seen happen more and more as of late, with the brand opting to work on shoes like the Zoom Streak Spectrum—a hardly remembered running shoe from the early 2000s, and the Air Humara, which is a cult classic, but not something that’s going to draw in 15-year-old hypebeasts. Or go for mind-numbing amounts on the secondary market. Has the Supreme x Nike hype dwindled?
Let’s start with the obvious. Not everything Supreme has ever made has had hype on it, whether it be a sneaker, T-shirt, or jacket. There are sleeper items every season that go under the radar, and there are sneakers that get sold for close to retail on the secondary market (Hello, Nike SB Gato and Air Force II). But there’s some sort of expectation that getting your hands on anything Supreme, especially Supreme x Nike, is an instant meal ticket.
Let’s just look at the numbers.
The Supreme x Nike SB Dunk, which released in 2002, is selling for $1,500 in the “Black/Cement” colorway on StockX. The red high-top SB Dunk from the brand resold for $1,700 recently. The black Air Foamposite One, whose release caused the NYPD to shut down the event and forever cancelled Supreme x Nike in-store releases, is reselling near a $1,000. A similar value is held by the black Air Force 1 High that the label dropped shortly after the Foamposite fiasco.
Simply put, there’s money to be made with getting your hands on the right Supreme x Nike collaboration. That’s nothing new. As the brand has grown, however, and everyone wants to try their hand at flipping anything Supreme to make a few extra bucks, the chances for these big sneaker payoffs have gotten slimmer and slimmer.
The Air Force 1s that are splattered with NBA logos go for roughly $275. The Zoom Streak Spectrum goes for $175. The colorful trio of Air Humaras from 2017—shoutout to Gary Warnett for working on the product—are going for just $130.
If it’s not a silhouette that people are familiar with, then the public isn’t willing to shell out the big bucks.
That’s understandable, but it’s a lot of what’s wrong with Supreme in a nutshell. The brand has often been a champion of the underground, propping up genuine culture—whether it be in the form of collaborations with music artists or working with obscure brands that hold a strong subcultural weight. Just look at its project with British label Aquascutum or making a photo T-shirt with Neil Young. Not one kid in SoHo is familiar with either of those things. That trope is nothing new. They’ll buy anything that’s deemed hype, whether they understand the meaning behind it or not.
In part, that’s a bit of the beauty of Supreme: Putting the unknowing onto what’s genuinely cool and worth investing your time and money into. On the other hand, that’s what we see with the sneaker collaborations now—the brand is working on silhouettes that aren’t into the canon of the five sneakers that are acceptable sneakers to wear right now, and they fall through the cracks.
Don’t get it twisted, it’s a blessing in disguise when a sneaker doesn’t get boosted by lofty resale values. Anyone who wants the shoe can actually afford it. And if we’re being honest, the Supreme Air Humaras look a lot better than the Supreme Uptempos, which go for $900 and have, “Look, I’m an asshole,” written all over them.
I can’t imagine that the Supreme x Air Max Tailwind IVs are going to hover near a grand. The Air Max 98 collaboration, which are stellar by the way, can be picked up for somewhere in the $300s.
It’s tough to tell if these are legitimately a strategy from Supreme to cause less chaos around their Nike products. A full blown riot did break out over their shoes roughly five years ago. Or if it’s the brand just shifting its energy to less-highlighted Nike product, in hopes that it helps the Swoosh instill energy behind a model that’s going to drop on a broader basis.
It’s hard to deny, however, that Supreme x Nike still does feel special or makes people consider whether they can make a few bucks on the latest sneaker. There will be plenty of people like that this week when the Supreme Tailwinds are alleged to drop, whether folks have heard of the shoe, like the shoe, or none of the above. The best thing about it, though, is that the people hoping to make a killing on them will be rudely awakened, when they likely sell them for a little more than they paid.