StockX’s ‘sneaker’ NFTs are kind of a scam hidden in plain sight

And you can’t even wear them.

StockX Sneaker NFTs

StockX, the self-anointed “stock market of things,” has stepped into the dubious market of NFTs. The resale platform isn’t welcoming outside sales of NFTs but is instead minting its own non-fungible sneaker tokens — and to hear them tell it, they’re tied to very much tangible sneakers.

A series of NFTs representing some of the hottest sneakers in recent years went up for sale on StockX Tuesday, and each is tied to a real-life sneaker stored in the company’s “brand new, climate-controlled, high-security vaults.” This connection would seemingly assuage concerns of trading in an item that isn’t tangible, or what some might even call “worthless,” but good luck getting your hands on the physical sneaker your token represents.

The resale platform makes no mention of how you can obtain a sneaker you own an NFT for because you can’t. StockX bills this as a way to save you space and the hassle of shipping, but in all likelihood tying its NFTs to real-life sneakers is just a shrewd move to avoid lawsuits for commemorating intellectual property that it has no right to. Whether or not there’s a real sneaker behind your NFT makes little difference to you, but StockX’s lawyers have to love that it’s technically out there in the company’s hands and nowhere near your feet.


So what are the NFTs good for? — Owners of StockX’s limited series of sneaker NFTs will be given exclusive access to the company’s releases, promotions, and events, according to the announcement page. But if you dig further into the term’s of service, as Sole Retriever did, you’ll find that StockX has been given license to redeem your NFT for an "experiential component" and even take away your ownership of the NFT as a result of the transaction.

The initial offering for StockX’s NFTs have already sold out, so let’s say you decide to engage in a secondary purchase for an NFT. You purchase, say, the NFT for the Nike x Ben & Jerry’s “Chunky Dunky,” which has an ask of $100,000 and a highest bid of $3,000. Now that it’s yours you don’t get the actual sneaker, and at some point StockX can come in say, Here’s access to an early sale or a discount, and by the way, that NFT is no longer yours.

Even in a field as fishy NFTs, StockX’s proposition smells like one of the most obvious grifts you’re likely to see. In a bid to stand out as different as NFTs, StockX has instead made tokens that make it even more clear that you’re the mark.