Why Are Nike Dunks So Expensive? (Explained)

In short: The perfect storm of collaborations with iconic brands and popular celebrities, supply and demand, and the growth of the global sneaker resale market make Nike Dunks expensive.

The Nike Dunk has been around for quite some time and is enjoying a massive resurgence in the past few years. But why are the Nike Dunks so expensive? Here are 4 reasons why:

Celebrities and social media heavyweights love Nike Dunks

A slew of collaborations, most notably with Travis Scott, Kyrie Irving, and Virgil Abloh, have increased the hype, demand, and therefore price of the Nike Dunk styles.

Take the Stüssy x Nike SB Dunk Low for example. At the time, the shoe was considered to be one of the best Nike Dunks of all time, and you can buy them in the $400 to $500 range.

Then Travis wore them. A pair was then sold for $10,000 on StockX in March 2020. Now, the average resale price on the marketplace sits at $1,426. That is “The Travis Effect” at work.

Image via Getty.

You can pretend that Travis Scott has nothing to do with it, but that would be silly. Clearly, the influence of streetwear icons like Travis Scott has made Nike Dunks more expensive.

In February 2020, Travis Scott finally got a chance to give the Nike Dunk Low his own spin, the Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low. He is Nike’s most marketable asset, after all.

Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low.

It just made too much sense for it not to happen. The collaboration has been a huge success and cemented the impact that Travis Scott has had on the Nike Dunk shoe.

Celebrities create a chain reaction that keeps on spinning, pushing the prices up, thus increasing the demand further, and, as a knock-on effect, the popularity of the sneakers too.

Thanks to celebrity endorsements, the Nike Dunk has become a shoe that many people would love to get their hands on, no matter the price. In fact, people are willing to pay thousands.

Notable collaborations increased the hype

In addition to collaborations with celebrities and icons, Nike has done collaborations with notable brands, including Supreme, Ben & Jerry’s, and Off-White, among many others.

In 2001, Nike collaborated with Stüssy, the first time it had partnered with a clothing company, creating a ‘hype’ moment that was indeed very unfamiliar at the time.

Releases such as Jeff Staple’s “Pigeon” Dunk Low kick-started sneaker culture as we know it today, and a decade later, it helped fuel the popularity of the Nike Dunk.

By creating a shoe that, by design, worked across so many different colorways, Nike has done a great job of laying down the foundations for the modern collaboration format.

Combined with the power of storytelling and strategic collaboration, Nike has managed to create a connection between sneakers and culture and offer a vehicle for self-expression.

This is why many people believe collaborations are the source of Nike’s staying power. Through exclusive and limited releases, Nike has created a sneaker that buyers can’t get enough of.

Keeping the numbers low in the market

Like all markets, sneaker prices are based on scarcity. The price of an item in low supply and high demand will steadily rise to meet the consumers’ expected demand.

Nike has played this very well, creating scarcity through limited runs and partnering hard with international designers. As a result, the Nike Dunk has become a scarce commodity.

Since it’s a collectors market, demand usually doesn’t diminish as rapidly as it does for items where “everybody who wants one has one.” Add the fact that Nike Dunk is a timeless shoe.

“I think Nike has tried to protect the Dunk as one of their true icons and has seen demand grow very quickly. Keeping the numbers low in the market and creating hype has made the shoe even harder to obtain.”

– James Trivunovic (Manchester’s The Hip Store)

By keeping the numbers low in the market, the Nike Dunk has now become a hot, and scarce, commodity, going for hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, on resale platforms.

The global sneaker resale market is growing rapidly

According to Jesse Einhorn, senior economist at StockX, The global sneaker resale market is experiencing massive growth — with an anticipated market size of over $30 billion by 2030.

Popular resale platforms, like StockX, are witnessing the growth firsthand. People are willing to pay so much more than their retail price because they are sold out everywhere.

The Nike Dunks, for example, have sold for 375% more than their average retail price. That just goes to show how the growth of the resale market drives the price of certain sneakers.

“Nike Dunks have been one of the fastest-growing segments of our marketplace. In addition to their world-class collaborations and storytelling, Nike Dunks have also proven to have incredible value.”

– Jesse Einhorn, senior economist at StockX

However, like all markets, it ultimately comes down to supply and demand — if a product has a community of collectors and an active market, trade will definitely flourish.

So, why are Nike Dunks so expensive?

The Nike Dunk is expensive thanks to a perfect storm of collaborations with iconic brands and popular celebrities, supply and demand, and the growth of the global sneaker resale market.

If you want to get your hands on a pair of Nike Dunks, you have a better chance of snatching a pair on StockX. Just make sure you are ready to pay thousands of dollars for a pair. 

Other Nike articles: