shutterstock 516328498 - I Know You Got Sole: Insurance, Training Shoes And Collectors

It doesn’t seem too long ago that wearing training shoes was something done only when playing sport or dressing down at the weekend.

Nowadays, the type of trainers you wear might indicate that you have serious wealth.

That’s because everyone from those with their eye on fashion trends, Premier League footballers, movie stars and even auction houses realise that certain sneakers are highly collectable.

The decision by the American tennis star Stan Smith to lend his name to a tennis shoe made by Adidas in the early 1970s convinced sports brands that celebrity endorsements could boost sales.

However, the intervening decades have illustrated that certain collaborations can add cachet as well as cash, a factor which propels shoe values well beyond their original sale price.

Novelty and a sprinkling of stardust have added the lustre previously seen in relation to more traditional asset classes, such as art, cars or jewellery.

In April, for instance, a pair of trainers worn during the 1998 NBA Finals by the basketball legend Michael Jordan – the athlete who gave his name to the Air Jordan line of shoes manufactured by Nike – sold for a record $2.2 million (£1.7 million) at auction.

That exceeded the £1.4 million ($1.8 million) paid two years earlier for a prototype shoe developed by Nike with the rapper Kanye West, who later went on to develop a best-selling range with Adidas.

Even less storied items can still be highly sought-after with prices to match.

A shoe co-designed by Nike and the French couturier Dior went on sale in 2020 for £1,800 but was being resold within 12 months for more than £11,000.

As The Times has reported, even less complex, waffle-soled trainers which seem more run of the mill can still hold considerable appeal – worth £155 on release but fetching six times as much in next to no time.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that the ‘paper concluded that sneakers were now “Gen Z’s asset of choice“.

Anyone fortunate enough either to afford trainers with illustrious sporting or entertainment connections or a collection of shoes prized by fellow aficionados needs to realise that they need to be safeguarded in much the same way as other assets.

After all, it’s not just law-abiding individuals who share that passion will take an interest.

Criminals know that collectable trainers will find a buyer and establishing the provenance of footwear is rather more difficult than for a watch with a serial number or an Impressionist painting.

In fact, the market for pre-owned trainers is growing so fast that it’s expected to be worth £78 billion ($100 billion) within three years.

Just as with other valuables, the risks associated with a collection of footwear need managing.

If owners choose not to carry the risks themselves but to transfer them to insurers, there is a need to ensure adequate cover.

If a claim has to be made, it will take into account not the sale price but the cost of replacing items which might be extremely hard to obtain.

The level of cover also has to be based on up-to-date values and the responsibility for doing that falls to owners.

Insurance underwriters base cover on the information provided to them. If there are material changes to the value of items as a result of the same shoes selling well at auction, for example, then that should be relayed to insurers as soon as possible.

Furthermore, it’s worth being aware of the small print in contents policies.

There are what are known as ‘inner limits’, which not only determine the proportion of overall contents cover allocated to valuables but the maximum claim values for individual items.

It might be that the value of even relatively mainstream trainers exceeds those limits, in which more particular cover might be required.

Many commentators agree there is little doubt that the market in trainers is likely to continue to increase and that means more individuals may choose to become collectors.

Auctions such as the sale later this month of shoes worn by that man Michael Jordan during each of the six NBA championships which he won during the course of his career will only draw more attention to the trend.

If you are tempted to build up an array of footwear with a view to its appreciation, it will literally pay to start on the right foot.

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Written by Lauren Winstanley, Private Clients Executive