Brought to you by Unboxed, a sneaker collector app powered by expert sneakerheads and market insights.
How to evaluate sneaker condition
Remember those days you would hit the local sneaker shop and signal to the salesperson what sneaker you wanted and your size?
We would wait anxiously as they went to that mysterious & sacred back area, for what seemed like forever then emerge with your box of brand new kicks.

Then box in hand, you'd gently open the lid and pull out that 1 kick. ⚡❤️️ ⚡

It's perfect and you try it on just to make sure it fits then immediately put it back in the box so it stays perfect and nobody comes close to even breathing on it.
If we were very careful, that shoe would still be DS or VNDS (Very Near Dead Stock).

Then the day comes when we break them out for a flex. We pull out the perfect outfit to complement the kicks, lace'em up and slide them on. Then take one final look in the mirror, feelin' like new money -- it's on!

At that moment when we leave our door, the kicks are officially un-DS'd and are used.

But how do we evaluate them from that point forward?
4 simple steps to evaluate used sneaker condition
Examine the body
The body is the foundation of the shoe and the part with the most visible surface area.

• Changes to the body structure are not only a sign of wearing but are also not fixable.

• If the shoe is twisted or leaning in a direction it will most likely always be like that and won't ever have that crisp/new look again.

Check key areas for flaws and signs of wear
Toe Box
The toe box is front and center and many times the first thing people see when lookin down at your kicks. 60% of sneakerheads feel the toe box is the most important part of the shoe to keep it lookin fresh.

It's also kind of delicate given the material used to provide comfort and flexibility. This area creases pretty easily especially on Jordan 1s and Dunks. Visible creases may be noticeable from a distance depending on their size and can take away a lot of the "pop" of the kicks when you rock'em.
The midsole is one of the first areas to show dirt. Good news is they are pretty durable parts of the shoe and many times can be cleaned to look nearly new.

One thing to be on the lookout for is discoloration. If the midsole has changed colors and looks yellowish or faded, this may require some work to get looking good again.
This area wears down like tread on a tire. The more steps we take in them, the more contact they have with the surface, the more they wear off.

Look for wearing on the patterns on the sole (i.e. stars on Jordan 1s). This will give you an idea how much they have been worn.

More worn shoes will have visible heel drag and noticeable wearing around the edges.
Friction of foot sliding and making contact with the inside of the shoe will also cause signs of wear. Faded symbol on insole of shoe is a common sign of wear.
Evaluate cleanliness
Cleanliness is one of the more difficult things to judge because sometimes we need to know what the cause of the dirty look is.

It could be as simple as dirt and may be easy to clean or it could be something more permanent like a deep stain.

Be mindful of the material type that is dirty or stained, if it is suede/nubuck or mesh it may be difficult to remove or permanent. But if it is leather it may be easier to clean.

Also try to determine what the substance is that is causing the stain. If it is something that has color and can soak in (i.e. wine) you may have to get used to that new "design".
Rate sneaker condition objectively
An 8 does not mean
80% good, 20% beat.

It's something much better!
We all have varying levels of tolerance for what we think is an acceptable amount of usage/wearing of a sneaker that we will rock.

That said, we all need to be working from a similar scale for condition rating for sales & trade.

Unboxed helps you keep track of what you have and it's condition to stay on top of your sneaker game.

As a rule of thumb, if the kicks don't look crisp like they have been only worn a few times - they are NOT an 8.

Track and organize your sneaker collection, conveniently with you wherever you go.

Written by James
All rights for images and videos belong to their authors.
Ready to up your sneaker game?
Make planning your wears and showing off your kicks easy
Made on