Larry Deadstock: Alive and Kicking

Larry Deadstock: Alive and Kicking

Sneaker enthusiast and collector, Larry Deadstock, sat down with us to discuss his passion for sneakers and the evolution of the market, as TRIOMPHE opens for bidding.
Sneaker enthusiast and collector, Larry Deadstock, sat down with us to discuss his passion for sneakers and the evolution of the market, as TRIOMPHE opens for bidding.

A n early amateur of the sneaker’s world, Larry Deadstock kept enriching his sneaker collection and decided to turn his passion into his business. He formed a collective called Larry Deadstock, destined to become one of the most important reseller centers in Europe. His shop on Rue de Saintonge, Paris has become a point of reference for all the Parisian consignment stores.

Portrait of Larry Deadstock © STUDIO YAGIZA, PARIS

You got into the world of sneakers more than 15 years ago now. How did that happen? And how has the sector developed over that period?

I was a child of the ’80s, so I grew up with the cultural influences of American sports, hip-hop, and street art, and I literally fell in love with sneakers when I was very young. My first pair of Jordans was a pair of Jordan 9 OG Chicagos, and I quickly gained a taste for seeking them out. The hunt for the product became almost as thrilling as actually possessing them. As I grew up and began to have more means, I started amassing them, and I acquired a more extensive collection. In the early 2000s, I began to exchange and resell some of them, especially to friends who came to my house. I started to develop a taste for that, and I would spend my free time seeking out little gems that I mainly sold on eBay, then on the first marketplaces.

I went from one sale to next, and one trade fair to the next, and I became friends with two people who would go on to be my partners. I also began working under the pseudonym Larry Deadstock, which I progressively transformed into a public persona on social media. In 2016 – the year we founded the company – we opened our business with the first French e-commerce site specialising in the resale of sneakers. During the same period, a Parisian streetwear boutique invited us to install a pop-up with them. It was so successful that, six months later, we decided to open our own shop in the heart of the Marais district. That was the period when Nike and Off-White launched the “The Ten” collection, and it was the peak of the craze for Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, so we couldn’t have asked for more! Our mission is to offer not only the “Heats”, but also the great timeless classics, the most sought-after collaborations, and – quite simply – cool sneakers at affordable prices.

"Our mission is to offer not only the “Heats”, but also the great timeless classics, the most sought-after collaborations..."

The market has developed at an exponential rate. Beginning in 2015, brands began to sense the potential of collaborations and limited series, and they started to inundate retail stores with several releases per week. The number of resale stores, websites, and applications exploded. Nowadays, in almost every city of more than 50,000 inhabitants, there is at least one sneaker consignment store. After Covid, the one-year boom gave way to the bursting of the speculative bubble. Resell prices collapsed. The principal reason was financial, with retail prices continually rising; but another was the very rapid rotation of trends on social networks, which saturated the audience. For us, the secondary business is continuing to grow, and it is also gradually becoming purer, clearing the way for the true specialists in the sector.

You have a substantial collection of sneakers. Which ones from our auction would you like to purchase?

The models that appeal to me from your selection are the emblematic pairs: those which have marked history through their link to music, the cinema, or – of course – basketball.

Larry Deadstock’s Picks from TRIOMPHE

You wrote the book 1,000 DeadStock Sneakers: The Dream Collection, which establishes the collection of your dreams. Among those, some are being brought to sale at Sotheby’s. Why did you include them on your list?

We were given carte blanche for the creation of our book, and the main question was: What should we absolutely not leave out? More than simple footwear, sneakers have become timeless, iconic designs: collectors’ objects that reflect various aspects of urban culture (music, the cinema, fashion, street art). Each pair tells a story, referring to a specific time, a slice of life...

Mouloud Achour wrote the preface for your book, in which he notably compares the sneaker market with the art market. Do you consider sneakers as works of art?

 Yes. Many of the pairs that interest the public are the undertakings of brands that entrust their models to “artists” who reinterpret their materials, colour schemes and themes. The business side of it also functions similarly to that of the art market, with price trends and auctions. You could say that sneakers are a "minor, more affordable art form”.

The secondary sneaker market will be worth more than 25 billion euros by 2030, according to the American investment bank TD Cowen. How do you explain development on such a scale?

Since the beginning of the 2000s, when we were just a handful of aficionados collecting them, the market has never stopped increasing. Twenty years later, sports brands have clearly understood the lifestyle appeal of their products for kids, and they continue to engage in ever more eclectic, innovative collaborations. The release of limited editions or series such as the Jordan Project, of course, were what first got the resale market rolling 

The secondary market – which was still quite frowned upon some ten years ago – has now become completely acceptable, to the point where non-initiates are often surprised to find a pair of Jordans at a “retail” price in a traditional store. Resellers have become the new retailers!

Are there differences in the trends in various parts of the world?

At one time, it was possible to distinguish a particular style according to where people came from. For example, in New York City, one of the major trends was the Nike Foamposite. In Europe, running shoes were more widespread, particularly in the Netherlands, for example, where the Air Max 1 was all the rage. However, now that social networks often dictate what to wear – and do so in a globalised way – it is difficult to identify or guess the geographic identity of a look. However, some local specificities still remain, such as the Air Max Plus TN, which is called “Requin” (or “Shark”) here in Paris, for example.

To conclude, what are the sneakers of your dreams?

Since I love hip-hop and sneakers, the ultimate collectors’ pair that perfectly bridges my two passions would be the Dunk High Wu-Tang (of which just 36 were released worldwide, reserved to Friends and Family).

Sneakers, Sports Memorabilia & Modern Collectibles

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top