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Nike meets Nikkei: Eminem-backed trainers exchange eyes traditional investors

By August Graham, PA City Reporter

A US website which connects buyers and sellers of trainers could start looking beyond its core “sneakerhead” client base and rope in traditional investors with funds linked to the price of different shoes.

StockX, backed by rapper Eminem and actor Mark Wahlberg, markets itself as a stock exchange for trainers and other merchandise.

The company has built indices tracking the price of trainers, measured by what, for example, Air Jordans and Nike shoes have sold for on its site in the last 72 hours.

“We’re already starting to build those components, you can go on StockX and there’s a ticker that rolls across the bottom,” co-founder Josh Luber told the PA news agency.

Trainers are checked at one of StockX’s authentication centres. (StockX/PA)

“You can’t invest in the Jordan index today, but eventually.”

The site also allows users to value their sneaker collection, much like a share portfolio, and track it against other portfolios.

However, the site still has some way to go before targeting trainers as investments in the same way as traditional commodities.

Sellers currently list the minimum they are willing to accept for a shoe while buyers set the most they are willing to pay. When there is a match, they do a deal, like a traditional stock exchange. It also provides graphs showing what a shoe has sold for in the past.

It is a formula which has paid off for Mr Luber and his fellow founders, Dan Gilbert, Greg Schwartz and Chris Kaufman. The company won a one billion dollar (£770 million) valuation in its most recent fundraising round this summer, just three years after launch.

“This thing still feels like it’s the five of us sitting outside of Dan’s office,” Mr Luber said, despite sitting in a Soho office with dozens of employees milling around.

The company launched in the UK in October last year, it now has 65 employees here, including an authentication centre, where trainers are checked before being shipped on to customers.

“London is, after New York, the sneaker capital of the world. That’s where the most products come into the market from Nike and Adidas, it’s where we have the most sellers, it’s the capital of sneaker culture.”

He points to recent hire, chief executive Scott Cutler, a former president of StubHub and head of eBay in the Americas, to show how much the firm has changed.

New chief executive Scott Cutler has brought experience from the New York Stock Exchange and eBay to the young company. (StockX/PA)

Mr Cutler compares a pair of sneakers to a barrel of oil, and sees huge opportunities in derivatives trading.

“If you looked at the Dow Industrial Average, there are 30 stocks that trade on that. There are 2,500 different securities that trade on those 30 components,” he said.

“We’re not that level of sophistication, but it’s interesting to think about our platform in the same way.”