The end of 2021 is just around the corner — and what a year it's been. The sneaker industry continues to grow at a terrifying pace, with no end in sight for the hype machine. As we do every quarter, we’ve teamed up exclusively with StockX and collated data from the secondary sneaker market to bring this past quarter’s biggest stories to life.
In Q3 2021, a storyline that we’ve covered in a previous article has stolen the spotlight — specifically on social media. We’re talking about the “Mid Agenda” that several of you believe is being pushed by publications, retailers, and Instagram mood boards. It’s evident that Nike Air Jordan 1 Mids are getting more play than they have in previous years, so this quarter, we dove deep into the data and try to find out why.
The resale platform’s data paints an interesting picture, and the AJ1 Mid’s surging popularity begins to make more sense when you zoom out and take into account other major trends in sneaker culture. For one, the rapid growth of female users on the platform (and in the community) has played a big role in changing the perception of the Nike Air Jordan Mid. The increased diversity among consumers — both at the retail and resale level — means the share of voice has evolved, resulting in different tastes having more of an effect on the performance of specific brands and models on the secondary market.
Another big factor in the Air Jordan 1 Mid’s surprising performance over the last year has been the globalization of the culture. With more people across a wider range of geographic territories gaining access to sneaker drops at all levels, the resale prices of sneakers better reflect global trends and tastes. This, like the growth of the female share of voice, has been covered by Highsnobiety and StockX multiple times in the past.
Below, we let data explain whether there really is a “Mid Agenda,” or if AJ1 Mids are just finally getting the love they’ve deserved all along.
The Female Voice
A big driver in the surge in popularity of the silhouette on StockX has been the increase in female users on the platform. A lot of Air Jordan 1 Mids come in women’s-exclusive colorways and releases, and when the share of female sneakerheads increases, so too will the popularity of models that are popular with that demographic. That’s an incredibly simple way to look at the cause and effect, as the increasing popularity of Mids is a lot more complex than that.
To begin, if the colorways of and stories behind the releases weren’t cool or appealing to the new generation of female sneakerheads, Mids would still be sitting on shelves. Highsnobiety’s own (and one of the foremost voices on the topic of gender equality in our culture) Lucy Thorpe, says: “After years of being overlooked, brands are finally learning to speak to women in more insightful and authentic ways, and cater to them with appropriate product. Classic models, in particular, have been notoriously hard for women to access due to limited size runs, so it’s no surprise that they’re jumping on exclusive colorways that are generally easier to get hold of.”
Over the past few years, Nike has done a good job putting more effort into creating clean colorways for the Air Jordan 1 Mid. In previous years, the model almost seemed like an after-thought, expected to sit on shelves of mass-market retailers, such as Foot Locker, and offer shoppers a budget (in every sense of the word) version of the OG Air Jordan 1 High. Collaborations with Melody Ehsani and Sneakersnstuff, as well as limited releases such as the City pack, have changed the perception of the sneaker — specifically with female shoppers.
“I still don’t believe exclusive colorways are the way forward, particularly for classic models such as the Jordan 1. However, it does enable us to look at women’s demand in isolation, which is clearly only going one way: upwards,” adds Thorpe. “But product sales are only a small part of a greater shift that's happening in the industry. More than ever before, women are collaborating, fronting campaigns, signing sponsorship deals, holding decision-making positions, and bringing a new energy and creative point of view to an industry that was getting pretty tired. You don’t have to look very hard to realise that a lot of the more exciting things happening in the industry are being heralded by women — buying power is just the start.”
StockX data shows that over the past two years, the share of women’s-exclusive colorways in the top 10 best-selling AJ1 Mids has grown significantly. Whereas in Q3 2019 only one pair cracked the top 10, there are now four women’s-exclusive colorways included in the ranking in Q3 2021. “We’ve seen an incredible surge in demand for Jordan 1 Mids over the past two years,” says StockX’s chief economist Jesse Einhorn. “What we’re seeing in the Mid market is consistent with a broader trend across the global sneaker space. As women’s participation in sneaker culture — and recognition thereof — moves closer to its long-overdue parity with men’s, brands are devoting more energy to creating authentic products and, as a result, top styles and trends are being fueled by women’s releases.”
Air Jordan 1 Mids aren’t the only product or category to benefit from the sharp increase in female participation in sneaker culture. Brands such as Reebok and Alexander McQueen have seen humungous growth on StockX over the past year, mainly due to Cardi B’s involvement with the former, and women’s interest in the latter’s chunky take on the Stan Smith. But more mainstream products, such as the Air Jordan 1 Low and the Nike Dunk Low, have also benefited, showing just how influential female sneakerheads have the potential to be.
“The Jordan 1 Low and Nike Dunk Low are two of the fastest-growing silhouettes on StockX, with each seeing triple-digit trade growth between 2020 and 2021. In both cases, women’s releases are fueling the boom,” explains Einhorn. In 2021 so far, women’s sales of the AJ1 Low is growing at 2x the rate of men’s, while the Dunk Low is growing at 5x the men’s rate.
The Air Jordan 1 Mid Goes Global
In addition to the growing female voice on StockX, the platform’s increasingly global reach has had a positive effect on the AJ1 Mid’s popularity. As we’ve noticed in previous iterations of this series, different geographic territories have different tastes and, when they’re given a chance to act on those tastes by buying and selling on StockX, it has an unsurprisingly significant effect on the numbers.
Taking a look at data pertaining to AJ1 Mid trades dating back to 2019, it’s clear that the sneaker’s boom started in Europe. This makes sense because, while there are certainly hardcore Jordan fans in Europe, Europeans don’t generally see the sneaker as the ugly stepbrother to the Highs and Lows. In Europe, Mids are seen as an accessible way to participate in sneaker culture. Due to the height of Mids — and this is personal opinion — they are also a lot easier to wear than Highs. Without the preconceived notions that Mids are somehow less than Highs, it’s not surprising to see the silhouette flourish there first.
According to the StockX data, Mid sales really started blowing up in early 2020. “By June 2020, Jordan 1 Mids accounted for more than half of all Jordan Brand sneaker trades in Italy and the UK, and more than 35 percent of sneaker trades in Germany,” Einhorn shares. “StockX customers in the United States were quick to follow Europe’s lead. Jordan 1 Mid sales, as a share of the overall Jordan market in the US, grew from around 10% in early-2020 to over 20 percent by the end of the year.”
In Q3 2021, Europe is still one of the biggest lovers of the Mid globally, though when comparing trades for the sneaker in the USA across the past two years, they are significantly higher today than in 2020. It’s unlikely that the Mid will ever replace the Low or the High in America, however, it’s established itself as a valid option over the past 24 months — and the US has Europe to thank for that.
“This is an example of a familiar dynamic we see repeated across the StockX marketplace. A silhouette or brand will catch fire in one country or region, and then within a few months, other markets around the world will follow their lead,” explains Einhorn. “Style is contagious, and when you have a global, integrated marketplace and culture, it is only a matter of time before trends migrate across borders.”
Of course, the Mid’s surging popularity would never have happened without a concerted effort by Nike to bring some exclusivity, collaborative power, and subjectively nice colorways to the silhouette. The fact that brands are finally beginning to scratch the surface of how to cater to women and unlock their enormous cultural power, and Europe’s unbiased demand for the silhouette, have both played a role in propelling the Air Jordan 1 Mid out of obscurity and into a new age of popularity.
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