Understanding The Enduring Appeal Of Air Jordans, With Help From A Serious Collector

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“Jordans are, and will always be the top crème de la crème of sneakers,” Aflamu Johnson tells me. “You can wear Jordans to a wedding.”

We’re sitting in my living room, and Johnson is fully fanning out on Air Jordans. The man knows what he’s talking about, too: He estimates that his private shoe collection is worth over 70,000 dollars.

“That’s crazy!” I blurt out when he tells me.

If I’d known more about the sneaker game, I might not have been so shocked. For many sneakerheads, the spiking value of a collection is part of the appeal. It’s the snazzier version of keeping gold under your mattress. Sneakers, Johnson tells me, are an investment. He shares an anecdote of a man who sold his sneaker collection for over 150 grand, and used the cash for a down payment on an apartment.

It’s a true tale: In 2015 a man in China was indeed able to buy an apartment in Beijing with the profits from his shoe collection. If Johnson ever gets in a jam, he’ll be covered.

“Just in case something happens,” he says. “I know that I have money in the closet.”

Going into my conversation with Johnson, the world of sneaker collecting was one I knew nothing about, besides the lines I’ve seen snaking out of the big streetwear stores on Fairfax or La Brea. Every time I pass those sun-baked hypebeasts, I think the same thing: “Who waits in line for sneakers?”