Arguably the hottest shoe in the world right now is not an Air Jordan or a Nike SB Dunk. In fact, it’s not even a sneaker: It’s the Ugg Tazz Slipper—a fuzzy, chunky sheepskin slip-on with a heavy-duty platform sole that looks like it was designed for a Nancy Meyers movie. Perennially sold out at retail, the Tazz is now in higher demand than almost any other footwear model on the market today. According to the sneaker resale site StockX, Ugg was both the number one top-traded and number one fastest-growing brand among any other shoe across the site in 2023, finishing the year with more than 150% growth in sales over the year previous.
The inexplicable dominance of the Ugg Tazz over more traditional sneakerhead favorites is less surprising when you look at the footwear market as a whole. Things are changing far and wide: The brands whose supremacy have long been taken for granted are starting to wane slightly, as even diehard sneaker collectors are beginning to look elsewhere for their fix. In 2024, it’s easier to buy a new Jordan release for retail than it has at any time since at least the release of The Last Dance, and many of the shoes now captivating audiences online are arriving from brands that even two or three years ago would never have been seen as a threat to the market.
“Sneakers are not on the way down, per se,” said Drew Haines, the merchandising director at StockX. “But sneakerheads who traditionally coalesce around hypebeast culture and have closets full of Jordans and Dunks are waking up to brands like Ugg and Oakley and Asics, and those brands are starting to take some of that share of wallet that used to belong only to Nike. They’ve been successful not only at driving hype and selling the product out, but they’re also generating a larger awareness and gaining credence with the kinds of sneakerheads who would have laughed at an Ugg boot or a Crocs slipper two years ago.”
Growing interest in mesh runners has shot Asics to the top of the sneaker resale market: Sales of the Japanese brand’s shoes increased 239% over the past year, according to StockX, while the brand moved from the top 10 most-traded shoes to the top five across the site. The viral footwear brand MSCHF saw a nearly 250% increase in sales, owing to its divisive but ubiquitous Big Red Boots; On Running, the successful performance brand, has also made major gains in the streetwear market, seeing more than 650% growth year-over-year, becoming the number two fastest-growing sneaker brand. Pretty much the only sneakers not getting hotter right now are the classic heavy hitters: Jordans and Dunks aren’t making these astronomical leaps and bounds.
At the same time, resellers themselves have been diversifying their usual portfolios: Stanley made headlines recently after its collaboration with Starbucks sold out instantly (following a manic rush of sneaker-drop-esque overnight lines), and Stanley cups are trending all over the resale market. StockX only started trading Stanleys in November, but they’ve blown up massively since: “The numbers that we’re seeing are pretty incredible,” said Haines. “They’ve really grabbed the culture by the horns. They’re everywhere right now.” The combination of online hype and scarcity amid rabid demand is exactly the recipe that’s made sneaker sales so explosive over the past two decades—and now an oversized sippy cup is majorly cashing in.
There have been more than 3,200 Stanley cup trades on StockX since the November launch, the majority of which have happened over the past four weeks, according to the company. The $50 mugs are reselling at an average price of $110 and have been going for as high as $215. In other words: A whole lot of resellers are making a whole lot of money on Stanleys, perhaps to the extent that it’s becoming a more lucrative prospect for those who’ve found their usual Jordan-and-Dunk sales stream drying up as of late. (To all the Stanley collectors who are having to accept exorbitant resale prices to get their hands on the most coveted releases? The sneaker community welcomes you to the club. You never really get used to it.)
Right now, Haines said, there aren’t a ton of other objects that have managed to generate the kind of frenzied hype as the Stanley cup on StockX. The PlayStation Portal was a bit of a hit; there are those who’ve speculated that the Apple Vision Pro might also be an aftermarket sensation. But the resale market will continue to grow, and as more brands come to appreciate the power of the scarcity-and-hype strategy, “it doesn’t matter what the widget is, as long as you can create that hype cycle around it,” Haines said. “If a brand wants to adopt that playbook, then the resell piece will be built into the dynamics of how the transaction works.” If it’s working for Stanley, why not a board game? A book? A limited-edition pen?
It doesn’t seem like hype sneakers are going anywhere, and of course there will always be a dedicated audience for the hard-to-find, expensive-to-buy classics. But what’s happening now is a sort of accelerated expansion—everything, everywhere, is becoming like sneakers, from comfortable slippers to retro running shoes to tumblers and mugs. If you want to own something cool, there’s a very good chance that at some point in the future you may have to either win a raffle, line up overnight, or shell out to an intermediary for it. Set your drop reminders now.
Originally Appeared on GQ
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