Sneaker Thrifting is the New Frontier

Sneakers, trainers, kicks, runners or whatever you call them are probably not the first thing that come to your mind when you’re going on a thrifting adventure. But very much like thrifting for clothes, venturing into the world of thrifting for sneakers can be really interesting. Finding lost silhouettes of years gone by and maybe even finding a few pairs that are worth a few quid too.

Before you all rush out the door because of the new sneaker frontier I will tell you about later, I just want to give you a few tips of what to look out for the next time you go thrifting.


Make sure that all the stitching on the trainer is intact. Give a light pull around the main stitched areas to see that it doesn’t come apart.

Sole / Heel rubber

Take your time and really look at the rubber on the underfoot of the sneaker. Inspect what the tread is like and how much is left. Look how square the heel is on the shoe making sure that there is no extreme wear causing the heel to be slanted. Importantly, check that the sole is still glued to the body of the shoe.


This is an important one because you don’t want to find any rips or tears in the fabric. Go over with a beady eye to make sure the fabric is still in a decent state.

Eyelets & Laces

Look over the eyelets of the sneaker and see what condition they’re in, making sure that they are still intact and not ripped out. The sneaker doesn’t have to have its original laces but would be ideal if they did. Again make sure that the laces are in good shape and not frayed especially at the lace tips.

Inside Liner & Footbed

Really take a dive inside and inspect at the liner of the shoe, again making sure that it is intact and not ripped. Depending on the age of the shoe, you will find different states of condition. Also see if the sneaker has its original footbed as it can make all the difference if it is a collectible sneaker.

So now you have the 5 key areas to look at, let me give you two quick stories of when you can hit the jackpot when thrifting for sneakers/footwear.

One day I went into a vintage shop and was just browsing around, when all of a sudden in a darkened corner with jackets covering them, I saw a pair of Nike trainers I’d never seen before. I did my checks but casually put them back. Luckily enough, I went back the next day and found them still in exactly the same position. The trainers were in good condition but they didn’t have a footbed in them so I asked whether the ticket price was final or whether they could do it a little cheaper to which they said they could. What I had purchased was a pair of Nike ‘Glow in the Dark’ Dunks that are pretty rare. They had a few marks on them and the overall condition I’d say was 6.5/10 but they cost me a grand total of £12. These trainers if in mint condition with a box can sell between £200- £450. Unfortunately, these were a couple sizes too small for me but my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and after a bit of a TLC I sold these for £50.

My second story is from a close friend who instead of sneakers found some luxury wellington ankle boots instead. My friend went into her local charity shop and was just floating around the store when suddenly she couldn’t believe what she was seeing in the charity shop.  What she had found were a pair of brand new Vivienne Westwood welly ankle boots with the box, she literally couldn’t believe her luck. My friend works in the luxury fashion industry so she knew the value of them straight away. These were only a season old and had a RRP of £400 however my friend picked them up for just £25. What was even better was they were in her exact size and oh yes, she did wear them.

So whether you’ve got an entrepreneurial side or just wanting to add to your collection, it’s amazing what you can find when you are thrifting for sneakers or footwear.

What I find amazing about thrifting and is sometimes under-appreciated are the designs of years gone by and actually we can see them today’s products. This especially happens within the sneaker industry when certain aspects of previous models are used or heavily influence some of the well-known models you see on the shelves today. 

If you’re a real footwear geek (like me) you can even follow the history of where sneakers were manufactured when looking at the different labels inside. It really gives you an insight into the manufacturing culture and quality of previous decades.

Just like thrifting for clothes, thrifting for sneakers can just be as fun and open the door to a whole new world. I hope these tips and stories have given you some insight as to what you could find out there and trust me, there are some real gems out there to be found.

Happy sneaker thrifting!

Written by Blake of, where he reviews the latest trainers, provides info on how to look after them and where the latest sneaker events are happening around the country.

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One thought on “Sneaker Thrifting is the New Frontier

  1. Hello from White Rose Recycled Fashion.

    Thank you for writing this article and highlighting the amazing world of thrifting (especially when it is for charity) I would like to highlight White Rose Recycled Fashion online thrift store in the UK, selling handpicked trendy recycled fashion online and in 9 stores around the midlands. At White Rose, we infuse our passion for fashion with our care for people and the planet, creating a fun and sustainable shopping experience which ensures you look amazing, spend less and make a positive difference.

    We’re driven by a distinct purpose to reduce fast fashion’s impact on the environment, reduce textile waste, and encourage our customers to make kinder choices when it comes to purchasing and re-purposing clothing. Our circular fashion model means we disregard the corporate ‘take-make-dispose’ pattern and ensure fashion garments are worn for as long as they can be and then transformed through upcycling and recycling after that.

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers 🙂

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