Sneaker Con is coming to Los Angeles this weekend, and that means some of the rarest grails and a wildest custom sneakers will be in one place at one time. This year’s festivities will be hosted at L.A. Live by the BET Experience on June 25th and 26th. Of course, Angelus Direct wouldn’t miss the fun, so we’ll be there with our Easy Cleaner Kit and gift cards.
Beyond the hype of seeing who has what on their feet, Sneaker Con is a lightning rod for a growing number of small-business entrepreneurs that carve out a living in an industry where hundreds of billions of dollars go to massive corporations. Historically, buying sneakers, especially rare ones, left you with too little options; over the years this has changed drastically.
Most sneaker companies offer direct-to-consumer sales that increases traffic to their own retail stores and websites. This will be Option A for some sneakerheads. Think along the lines of a Niketown or an adidas store in terms brick-and-mortar operations (physical locations). While going to a footwear retailers own storefront is beneficial for customer experience, these stores are usually located in high density, or metropolitan cities with limited quantities.
Then of course there is the [insertyourfavoritefootwearbrand].com website; this is Option B. In the digitial age, shopping is mobile and you can buy a pair of sneakers wherever you have wifi or a signal. The problem with eCommerce (online shopping) is that almost everyone who also wants those sneakers, say the Supreme Jordan 5’s for example, has a smartphone. Option B is limited now. Unless you have mad Internet skills or use a ‘bot,’ which is basically software that runs tasks like “add size 10 to cart” at hyperspeed, Option B isn’t happening.
For customers who don’t live close to ‘single brand’ retailers, or couldn’t score want they wanted on the company's website, option C is your mass market retailer. These are the sneaker, clothing, and sporting goods stores that you might find at malls and shopping centers in medium-sized cities. A mass market retailer like Foot Locker accounts for $5 billion in footwear sales because they have 4,000 accessible locations. Typically, they sell multiple brands, but might have limited supplies of the more hype releases. Foot Locker had Yeezy’s, but only at certain locations (typically larger markets) and you better believe people lined up, so Option C might be a bust too.
Option D is your boutique sneaker stores, but those will have lines and websites that get overloaded with eager buyers. Option D is similar to Option A and B, so you will face pretty much all of the same challenges. Supplies might be even more limited, stores might only be in metropolitan cities, or they might not even sell the product online.
This leaves many desperate sneakerheads with Option E, which is by far the most controversial option; Option E is the resale market. The resale market thrives on exclusivity and markups on holy grail sneakers that hit the +300% range. According to Josh Luber of the sneaker-centric online marketplace StockX (formerly known as Campless), the secondary market on sneakers has generated something close to $6 billion.
Of course, those $6 billion will not be made at Sneaker Con, or other sneaker conventions alone. But the steady rise of Sneaker Con represents the shift away from how, where, and by whom sneakers can be purchased. Depending on how you look at it, the last buying option for rare sneakers leaves everyone happy—companies get paid, resellers get paid, and sneakerheads come up (if they’re willing to pay a markup).
Be sure to stop by and say what’s up or check out the live sneaker customs to see our acrylic leather paint in action!