August 1, 2014

The Color of Sneaker Money

About a year ago designer Brett Goliff published The Most Significant Colors in Sneaker History on Complex.  The post was a personally curated top-10 list based on Brett’s expert design opinions.  It included fantastic insights such as “Pink Flash . . . took the color space from being soft and delicate to an area that punched you in the face.”  Apparently the dude can design a sentence, too.

Of course, every time we see a sneaker list based on opinion we ask:  What’s the data say?

In this case, can we quantify the popularity of sneaker colors?

As we so often do, we decided to examine Jordans:


  • We analyzed 311 different Jays (models 3-14).  278k pairs were sold on eBay in 2013 for a total of $62.7 million

Colorway Allocation:  Primary & Secondary Colors

  • For every pair we assigned primary and secondary colors based on Nike’s exact colorway.  The primary color (or colors) was assigned 80% of the resell value; the secondary color(s) was assigned 20% of the resell value.  If there were two primary colors, each got 40%.  If there were no secondary colors, the primary was allocated 100%.
  • For example, the colorway for the Jordan 3 Black Cement (2011) is “Black/Cement Grey-White-Varsity Red”.  Primary color designations were given to “Black” and “Cement Gray”.  The secondary colors were “White” and “Varsity Red”.  The resell value percentage allocations were therefore:  Black (40%), Cement Grey (40%), White (10%); Varsity Red (10%).   In 2013, the Jordan 3 Black Cement accounted for $857,841 dollars on eBay, so the actual dollar allocations were:  Black ($343,136), Cement Grey ($343,136), White ($85,784); Varsity Red ($85,784).

Color Groupings

  • In order to organize the colors more easily, we grouped shades of similar colors together.  For example:  “Black”, “Anthracite” and “Stealth” were all grouped under “Black”.  In total, 49 different colors were organized into 20 color groupings, listed here alphabetically:

Campless alpha color groups


  • We added up the resell dollars for each color, rolled up to each color grouping and – viola – a quantified sneaker popularity list, ordered here from most popular (most dollars) to least:

Campless dollar color groups

  • Not surprisingly, Chicago Bulls colors (Black, White, Red) dominate the top of this list, accounting for $41.7 million – or two-thirds of all Jordan-color resell dollars


  • The next step, of course, is to compare our data-driven color rankings to Brett’s design/personal top 10:

Campless color groups BG comp

  • The most interesting observation here is that Brett’s number one – volt – isn’t even on our list.  Of course, our list is based on Jordan Retro 3-14 and there simply haven’t been much (if any) volt on Jays.  The closest we have is Yellow/Maize, but we felt that was too far away on the yellow spectrum to include

If we were to end this post here, we’d chalk it up as a win:  neat concept; logical quantification methodology; interesting comparison; obligatory Vincent Lauria clip . . . but . . . for an article about color there is a noticeable dearth of any above.  Wouldn’t it be neat, we thought, if we could apply the financial quantification of sneaker color to something new – if we could use these colors in these proportions, somehow.  The problem, of course, is that we’re data nerds, not design geeks (or whatever endearing, self-deprecating term they prefer).

Enter Larry Luk.

Larry Luk is a designer and illustrator at Son&Sons agency in Atlanta, GA.  You may have seen his work within the sneakerhead community over the past few years, including the time he “took over” the Nice Kicks shop in Austin with a small army of sick sneaker renderings.   We were lucky (no pun intended) to peak Larry’s interest and honored that he designed the first financially accurate resell Jumpman logo (as if that’s a real thing):


We had a lot of fun working on this so maybe, just maybe, we could see more Campless/Larry Luk collaborations in the future.

What do you think?  What would be a good project for Campless and Larry to team up on?


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