Collecting sneakers has evolved from a niche hobby into a multi-million-dollar business. Sports shoe enthusiasts, known as sneakerheads, are demanding more from the trading platforms they frequent. Service providers are increasingly adopting new technologies like blockchain to keep them happy.

28-year-old Shan Jichao became a budding sneakerhead as a high school student over a decade ago when sports shoe collecting was just a subculture popular among a small group of hardcore basketball fans. The phenomenon is now going mainstream. Snapping up the latest pair of Air Jordans or Yeezys is no longer just a concern for high-schoolers or sports fans. The sector is also garnering attention from celebrities, cryptocurrency traders, and even China’s older generation, who are more accustomed to trading in stocks than shoes.

“I was surprised one day when a discussion started in one of my WeChat groups, mainly made up of middle-aged doctors, about how they liked a particular sneaker after someone sent out a photo,” Shan told TechNode.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

Nicole Jao

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email: nicole.jao.iting@gmail.com.