Who do sneakerheads love? – The Hindu

It’s a mix between retailers and resellers, one attracting more sneakers to India and the other helping you keep your shoes rotating.

It’s a mix between retailers and resellers, one attracting more sneakers to India and the other helping you keep your shoes rotating.

Today is March 3. It’s around 7:30 a.m. in India, and thousands of sneakerheads across the country are in front of their laptops, tablets and phones (in some cases, all three), logged in with different IDs – waiting to select the right size , press the “Add to Cart” button and checkout, all within milliseconds. It’s not the first time they’ve done it and the repeated failure of several previous occasions doesn’t stop them from trying again. And if I get a W (sneaker-speak for ‘get lucky’), they fantasize.

Bella Hadid walks the runway in Virgil Abloh's latest show during the Off-White Womenswear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 collection

Bella Hadid walks the runway at Virgil Abloh’s latest show during the Off-White Womenswear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 ‘Spaceship Earth: An Imaginary Experience’ collection during Paris Fashion Week | Photo credit: Getty Images

This is how most launches (the Supreme x Nike SB Dunk High ‘By Any Means’ release, in this case) happen online. Whether morning stress is worth it or not is subjective, but the hype is definitely real. The sneaker space has grown, matured, and developed into a massive commercial addiction that won’t be shaken anytime soon. It’s widespread, non-sexist, nostalgic for age and volleys against the strict, stifling rules and rituals of a conformist era. This movement isn’t just about comfortable shoes, it’s an embodiment of the idea of ​​freedom, an unabashed declaration of self-expression, a cheeky statement of your individuality. Never mind my wordy definition; as Gen Z would succinctly sum it up, “it’s a vibe”!

Although the sneaker craze has taken over the world since the late 2000s – with wealthier Indians satisfying their lusts by shopping abroad – it has only caught on locally with the opening of the VegNonVeg store in the capital. It was in 2016, and it was the beginning. A shoe store with athletic shoes that weren’t meant for running came as a shock to the many newbies who walked in.

Vedant Lamba, founder of Mainstreet Marketplace

Vedant Lamba, founder of Mainstreet Marketplace | Photo credit: special arrangement

Contrast that with the recent opening of the 1,600 square foot Mainstreet Marketplace store, by young entrepreneur and retailer Vedant Lamba, in the same town (at The Dhan Mill in Chhatarpur), where rare silhouettes, aka ‘grails’ , are priced many times over their launch retail tag (and none of the walk-ins seem to be shocked), and you realize that in just half a decade things have come a long way. long road.

When two is a crowd

But I dived in too soon; let me back up a bit. A sneaker, essentially, is an athletic shoe. But unlike today’s active gear, which is based on the latest R&D to make an athlete go faster and further, here the emphasis is on older styles that were “state of the art”. ” in the 80s when they were first launched. Today, while their performance prowess may be surpassed, their comfort remains and, more importantly, their appearance remains unmatched. Think of it as a vintage car – it has a certain old-world charm and nostalgic appeal that can be quite timeless.

Sangeet Paryani, founder of Superkicks

Sangeet Paryani, founder of Superkicks | Photo credit: special arrangement

Ironically, for all its claims about nurturing individuality and democracy, the space is crowded with two big brands: Air Jordan (by Nike) and Yeezy (by Adidas Originals). Sure, Reebok and Puma are surfing the scene, as are Fila, Converse and Vans, occasionally delivering great pairs – and New Balance has seen a surge of interest lately – but more often when sneakerheads come together about whoever got away’ is one of the two mentioned above or a collaboration of them.

Retailer or reseller?

So how do you acquire these “grails”? Besides the early morning rejection I described a few paragraphs ago, stores like Superkicks do a great service. These are the official channels to launch these shoes in India. “With retail being the first point of contact for new products, it’s where we can effectively tell brand stories and present the product narrative to consumers,” says Sangeet Paryani, Founder of Superkicks.

Top 5 sneakers

This is by no means definitive but here are some highly coveted styles and designs:

Dior x AJ1: No shoe has commanded such a stratospheric price tag while being accessible to the general public.

Yeezy: Without distinguishing a single model, but if the history of sneakers could be told like a Bollywood film, it would be this one. Whenever a pair launches, expect long queues, lots of fuss, and lots of disappointment.

Nike x Off White: A collaboration of 10 models originally, then expanded to cover more, this was perhaps the most talked about range and still is.

New Balance x Aimé Léon Doré: A soft version of the 993 model, it suddenly catapulted New Balance into the spotlight.

Fila x Fendi: This flew under the radar, but was a nice blend of the two brands’ synergies. Many fashion behemoths have collaborated since (Gucci x Balenciaga, Gucci x adidas Originals), but none have managed to replicate the cool, effortless poise that this range exuded.

*In general, collabs with Atmos, Sean Wotherspoon, Bape, Supreme, Mastermind, and Sacai are going to get more eyeballs and be harder to get.

The brand has a major presence on the ground and online and recently launched an outpost in Guwahati. From organizing in-store launches to online raffles (which has become completely normal during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns), he and his team have managed to maintain the democracy and fairness that characterizes the system.

Crafty brands know best, however, even these official outlets enjoy rationed access. There are never enough sneakers, which is what drives the lust quotient. But that said, of his own collab launch with Fila, the V94M in 2019, Paryani said he launched “a desirable number of pairs so that everyone has the chance to own one. [though reports claimed a hyper-limited edition]”.

But back to those grails. If we can’t score in-store or online, that leaves us with one last avenue to acquire these shoes – buy from stockists like Mainstreet Marketplace and Crepdog Crew, international platforms like StockX, or follow link accounts like @sneakerpreacher . in, where these pairs will be quoted at prices purely driven by demand. “Sneakers are an asset class. People have been investing in it for a while now in the West and this trend has just started in India,” says Sanjay Khemchandani of sneakerpreacher.in. “Wherever there’s money to be made, people will jump on the bandwagon and some sneakers perform better. That’s the hard truth.” To give you an idea of ​​how much money we are talking about here, the Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97 was released (internationally) in 2017 for around ₹15,000. Today, a pair can go up to ₹1,00,000!

Make way for bots

Dealers like Lamba started out small, buying and selling (i.e. “flipping”) a few models here and there, quickly making money in the process, but eventually their business grew, increasing both the number of pairs crossing them and the margins. Today it is a sizeable company with huge growth opportunities; demand and supply at their most rudimentary level. Because once a shoe has disappeared from points of sale (which are limited to metros), the only place to find it is at retailers.

Anchit Kapil, co-founder of Crepdog Crew

Anchit Kapil, co-founder of Crepdog Crew | Photo credit: special arrangement

One of the most common complaints today, however, is that resellers use “bots” to clutter launch sites and block access to individual enthusiasts with their unique login credentials. Some people call the blame, but Lamba has a modern yet holistic answer. “Anyone who complains about people using bots also has access to the same bots. You pay the premium in the resale industry for service of connection, authenticity and things like that. I think that’s perfectly fair,” he says.

While no one takes sides in the perennial retailer versus reseller debate, Khemchandani says both are equally important. “Retailers because the more retail stores there are, the more pairs there are in India. And dealers because they help you pick up cop pairs you missed and help you sell pairs, keeping your sneaker rotation strong.

The heavy hike

Balpreet Singh, an avid collector and a rare size 11, laments the general lack of availability in his size and the higher prices he has to shell out for them. “Big feet matter!” He’s joking. He has a point. UK5 and UK8 are in high demand (and come at a high price), but sizes larger than UK10 are also expensive due to their rarity. Sometimes they are almost 10% to 20% more expensive than the resale price – which, mind you, is already between 20% and 100% (and sometimes 500%) above the retail price!

Rekindle interest

Collaborations — in which a famous designer or entity lends their name and perhaps a design aesthetic to an existing style, providing a unique update in (obviously) limited numbers — are another cash cow. Paryani sums it up nicely: “Collaborations play an important role…to ensure a trickle down effect for non-collab silhouettes. Most collaborations, especially those between a small entity and a sneaker brand, are made to express themselves purely artistically. They’re also helping to revive a sneaker line that some people have overlooked.

Another sneakerhead, who does not wish to be named, alleged collusion between retailers and resellers, who “steal rare pairs even before their official release in order to further inflate prices”.

Paryani, however, says it’s not just rare pairs and admits to loving Nike’s Waffle One construction, which is readily available at retail in many colors. Likewise, shoes like adidas Superstars, which are “comfortable, have a history attached, and a certain style quotient” are always a good place to start. Lamba may have six-figure lists, but his advice on what to invest in first is relatively simple: “Look for something you would wear every day.”

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