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This Platform Puts New Spin on Sneakers as an Asset

Investing platform is putting its own spin on sneaker trading.

Like Rares and StockX before it, Public invited users last month to invest in sneakers they may never see or touch. Unlike its predecessors, however, Public bundled these assets into a single portfolio that it says allows for broad category exposure and further diversification.

Described by Public as a “first-of-its-kind alternative asset,” the Rare Sneaker Portfolio plummeted in value in its first days, with share prices falling from 99 cents on Jan. 10 to 34 cents two days later, per the platform’s website. Since bottoming out at 20 cents three weeks ago, however, share prices have climbed up to 84 cents. As of Monday, the portfolio’s market cap was $647,900.

The Rare Sneaker Portfolio bundles together 77 “iconic and rare” sneakers, similar to how exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, function for equities. According to Public, it evaluated sneakers based on cultural significance—their association with a celebrity, artist, athlete or collection, for example—scarcity, condition and size. The collection includes original Air Jordan Is, collaborations with Virgil Abloh, KAWS, Tom Sachs and Futura, and rare finds like the Nike Air Force 1 x Jay-Z “France,” of which only two pairs were made. Each pair is in deadstock condition, with the “vast majority” sized in M 9-13, Public said.

The sneakers were previously offered for fractional investment by Otis, a platform Public acquired in March last year, across 19 different Reg-A offerings. The Rare Sneaker Portfolio merges these into a single, combined Reg-A offering.

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Though Public has been integrating Otis’ offerings into its own app since September of last year, last month’s Rare Sneaker Portfolio launch marked the first alternative asset portfolio to debut on the platform. Additional portfolios are set to launch this year, it said.

“We’re pleased to be able to introduce innovative new ways for our members to invest in alternative assets. While we’re beginning with sneakers, we’re actively exploring Portfolios across a variety of categories,” Keith Marshall, general manager of alternatives at Public, said in a statement. “The concept of curated Portfolios means that our members will be able to invest in categories like art, trading cards, royalties, and real estate without needing to become subject matter experts on individual assets.”

Public is hardly the only company removing physical shoes from the high-end sneaker market. Early last year, the popular resale platform StockX unveiled “Vault NFTs.” The program ties digital tokens which users can trade among themselves to real, physical items that the resale platform holds in its “climate-controlled, high-security vaults.” Though the initiative quickly prompted a lawsuit from Nike, Vault NFTs remain available for trading a year later.