Think of it as the Antiques Roadshow for hypebeasts. The long-running TV show which sends its presenters across the nation, stopping in town centers to appraise antiques and heirlooms belonging to locals began in the UK over 40 years ago but soon spawned numerous international editions. Its focus encompassed items as diverse as glassware, manuscripts or timepieces. Now eBay UK has applied a similar formula to that most modern and specific of collectors item: the sneaker.
After debuting at Europe’s largest Sneaker Festival, Crepe City in London, the eBay Mobile Authenticator, a converted ice- cream truck, will pull into the English cities of Leeds, London, Manchester, Glasgow and Nottingham in the coming weeks amid a party atmosphere with DJ performances and refreshments. Attendees can have their sneakers authenticated in-person by independent experts and will receive 100% authenticity guarantee stamp of approval and can sell them on at no extra cost.
Hyped sneaker drops are the contemporary retail model that shows no sign of waning. Wait lists, watch lists and those long weaving lines of young consumers outside select stores in major global cities attest to their ongoing popularity. The international sneaker market was estimated to be worth 100 billion dollars in 2019 and the pace of drops has only sped up as a cycle of continuous newness fuels interest in the latest limited edition. With a pair of sneakers sold on eBay UK every 9 seconds last year, the eBay Mobile Authenticator will surely stop traffic. The 3 top-selling sneakers on eBay UK in 2021 were all by Nike: Nike Air Force 1 ‘07 Triple White, Nike Dunk Low Retro Black White Panda and Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro Mid SE Smoke Grey Fog Camo White. The sneaker that fetched the highest resale price was Dior’s Air Jordan1 AJ1 High OG Grey sneakers which sold for 6990 pounds (approximately 9600 dollars).
How eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee for sneakers works
The Mobile Authenticator is an extension of eBay’s successful Authenticity Guarantee program which currently authenticates the most popular sneaker styles and brands on the marketplace, Nike, Adidas and New Balance, in new and used condition. It is expected that by the end of the year, the program will include many more brands and sneakers at lower price points. The resale platform has partnered with Sneaker Con, a leading organization for sneaker authentication, making eBay’s sneaker program the only one in the industry using an independent, third-party authenticator.
When a sneaker purchase is made, the seller ships it directly to eBay’s authentication centre where the independent authenticator confirms they are consistent with the listing title, description, and images, and then performs a multi-point physical authentication inspection of box, shoe and accessories. An eBay tag embedded with NFC chip technology is attached to guarantee its authenticity and finalize the process, driving confidence in the collectability and resale value. For sellers who choose to offer returns, eBay’s sneaker authentication program ensures the exact item initially sold is returned to the seller, via a verified returns process.
“Sneakerheads come to eBay to buy and sell exclusive sneaker drops that are hard to get your hands on and based on the success of our Authenticity Guarantee programme, it’s clear that they enjoy having complete confidence when doing so,” says eBay UK’s Wahaaj Shabbir, Sneaker Category Manager. “We’ve never done anything like this before with the mobile authenticator. All you’ll need to do is bring your kicks along, and we’ll have the experts from Sneakercon on site to authenticate them for you.”
While Antiques Roadshow created a popular dialogue around antiquities of the past, eBay’s Mobile Authenticator speaks squarely to the most coveted items from contemporary culture. US-based sneakerheads will now not only be watching for the latest drops but also to see if the Mobile Authenticator piloted in the UK will be launched here in the US.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry