All About Samples

#Samples, #PlayerExclusive, #BOMGang and my personal favorite, #SampleLife.

If you’ve followed any big sample collectors on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen a few of these hashtags used. I’m guilty of using them myself. (I still think claiming #SampleLife and #BOMGang is hilarious).

For those that don’t know much about me and my shoe collection, I can say that I dabble in the sample game. I’m not one of those guys that’s looking for and buying samples and samples only, but I’m not one to turn down a dope pair for a good price, even more so if they’re Kobes (some of my favorite shoes).

I always get asked about samples, and what’s a better platform to answer the questions I’ve been asked than here on KicksOneTwo? I’ll give you a rundown of how the sample game works, and let you in on some key information. Enjoy!

What Exactly Is A Sample?

A sample is a shoe that is not released to the public. It could also be an early pair of a shoe that is going to release in the future. Samples come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and include many different types. The most common types of samples out there are promo samples, wear test samples, and look-see samples.

Promo samples are the most common out of all the sample types. Almost all player exclusive sneakers are promo tagged.

Wear test samples are much more rare and harder to obtain than regular promo samples. Every sneaker that is put out on to the market is put through multiple wear tests. Changes to the sneaker are made throughout the whole wear test process. Us “regulars” have no way of knowing how many wear test samples certain shoes have, which adds to the mystery (and sometimes value) of these wear test samples.

Look-see samples are the rarest of the rare. These samples are usually 1 of 1 or 1 of very few pairs and are usually stamped, “Property of Nike. Not for Resale.” We’ll go more in-depth on those later.

What Is So Attractive About Samples?

Like any regular shoe, the level of attractiveness and want for the shoe all depends on the person. I know some people that don’t mess with samples at all. In my personal opinion though, there’s just something about owning a pair of samples or player exclusives that gives me a good feeling. I figure that it’s very comparable to owning a super limited, hyped release such as a Yeezy 2. I like knowing that the pair of shoes I own is special. Hunting down certain pairs of samples that are hard to find is another reason that makes collecting them so fun.

What’s The Deal With Sample Boxes

If you’ve dealt with any samples before, you know that the majority of sample buyers are extremely anal about the pair having the original box. Some may find this strange. It’s just a box right? Well, not exactly. This is where the concept of “#BOMGang” comes into play. Most samples are originally made with a box that has a special tag on it. This tag has information on it such as the BOM or sample number and size. Other player exclusives have boxes with tags that list the player, the size, the shoe name, etc. The box is sort of an added bonus to having a pair of samples.

A lot of the samples I’ve found don’t come with the original box. I’ve heard stories of prep school players having to throw away boxes at the airport as they’re coming home from the National Tournament. RIP to all the dreams of buyers looking for that PE with the og box.

Why Do People Buy Samples They Can’t Wear?

Trust me, I’m all for the “rock, don’t stock” movement. I believe that shoes should be used for their original purpose. However, I give exceptions to samples. I’m very guilty of buying samples that aren’t in my size for the sole purpose of adding them to the collection and displaying them. As a collector, condition is everything, so I sometimes struggle with the thought of un-DS’ing a pair of super rare samples. However, I know many people that only purchase samples in their own size so they have the option to wear them. All the more power to them.

What’s Sample Pricing Like?

Pricing varies immensely. One of the biggest problems people have with samples is that they ask for price checks and they receive answers with a whole range of dollar amounts. One of the main lessons I’ve been taught with samples is that value is all about perspective. What might be worth $1000 in your mind might only be worth $500 to another. On the flip side what is only worth $100 to someone else might be worth $600 to another. I’ve seen people pay some crazy prices for certain shoes that I didn’t think were worth nearly that much.

Now that we’re on the subject of pricing, I’m going to bring up look-see samples again, as promised. If you pay attention to any of the larger sneaker blogging websites, you may have seen a story about a raid where thousands of dollars of sneakers were seized and arrests were made. Hit the hyperlink above if you want to check out the story.

How Do I Get Samples?

There’s an old urban myth that you need a plug or connect to get any type of sample. I can tell you that this is far from the truth. Finding samples is all about who you know, how much time you’re willing to spend searching, and patience.

Similar to real life, in finding samples a lot of time it’s about who you know. This is why it’s really beneficial to not threaten to kick someone’s ass over FaceBook even though they’re 10 years older than you and live 20 hours away. You never know who knows who and who has what shoes, so this comes with the common knowledge to be good to everyone and make all of the connections you can. I’ve met some really good people from sample collecting, and once I made those connections it became much clearer as to who has what and if they sell often or not. Note – having connections is much different than having a “connect.”

A fool-proof way to look for and find samples is by browsing the internet. FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter are all solid outlets to search. Go ahead and get into the bigger FaceBook sneaker groups such as Sole Clinic and type specific keywords of the shoe you’re looking for into the search bar. Get on Instagram or Twitter and search for all of the guys that are a part of the #SampleLife. Ebay is a huge outlet for samples to be posted. You never know what you’ll find with just a few scrolls.

Patience is a virtue. I’ve never realized this more until I started hunting for samples. If you know that you want a certain pair but can’t find it anywhere, you just have to wait until they pop up one day. Even if you know someone that has that pair you want but won’t sell, wait it out. They just might hit the market someday.

Advice For Sample Purchasing

  • As with all purchasing, take precautions to stay safe and not get scammed.

    • Most college/prep school teams get player exclusives as well as iD’s. Some people that have iD’s will cut out the Nike iD shoe tag and try to pass them off as promo samples. Don’t get fooled. Do your homework.

  • Don’t snitch.

    • In the case of college PE’s, if the person selling wants to stay lowkey, don’t tell anyone about him! If he tells you to not post pictures on Instagram until after the season is over, wait until the season is over! No point in messing around and causing a big NCAA scandal. The sale of these college PE’s happens more than you might think, so if you are in a position to buy them, do what you can to not start a riot.

  • Don’t charge rape.

    • Just because it’s a sample doesn’t mean it’s worth thousands. I learned this the hard way.

  • Have fun with it.

    • This should go without saying, but don’t forget…it’s supposed to be fun! Enjoy the hunt.


So there you have it. You’re educated on the sample game, and ready to start copping if you’re so inclined! If you have any thoughts or questions on them, feel free to send them my way! I’m always down to help out.

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