3 Things we learn about the power of exclusivity from the sneaker culture
$28,500 for a pair of sneakers… go ahead. Let that sink in. That could buy you a car honestly. That, my friends, is what happens when there are only 72 pairs of the UNDFTD x Air Jordan 4s in the world. Exclusivity is what can make or break a shoe in the sneaker culture and for some reason people thrive off the concept of their shoes being exclusive.
Why? Because nobody wants to walk around having the same shoe as everyone else. Or they want to have a shoe that they know is better than yours. I’ve only been in the sneaker game a few years, but I’ve learned three things about the power of exclusivity along the way.
Exclusivity makes the price go up
When you are first getting into the game of sneakers, it’s not what you think it is. You may think that if you just like the shoe then you can get it no problem. Well, that’s wrong. Most exclusive sneakers will sell out in a matter of 10-45 minutes depending on the demand. People will stand in line or camp out overnight for hours just to get the shoe they want. But the thing is these people just aren’t buying these shoes for themselves either. The reselling business is the underground way of making money in the sneaker world. For example, Benjamin Kickz is an 18-year-old entrepreneur who started reselling shoes at the age of 15. He is now a millionaire who sells to some of the top celebrities including P. Diddy, DJ Khaled, Drake, and Migos. He isn’t the only one though. It seems like reselling sneakers has become some peoples’ way of making a living even if they only get a little bit over the retail price depending on the shoe. More exclusive, more money you can resell for. Some people who truly appreciate shoes may say reselling is hurting the sneaker culture and some may say is making a way for people who have a passion for sneakers. It just depends on how you look at it.
Exclusivity makes the hypebeast – and then, there’s the effect of an Influencer
Brand, exclusivity, and price can make a shoe so desirable that people will just buy it just because everyone else wants it. There are a lot of shoes out there that may not be the best looking sneaker, but if there is one celebrity or influencer who starts wearing that shoe then it becomes sort of a chain reaction. One after the other people will do anything to buy the shoes just because a big name in the sneaker culture has them. To show that you have the best of the best that no one else has can put your hypebeast rank up there, which can then turn you into an influencer. People love seeing other people who have it all.
Exclusivity makes people crazy
Most of the time you don’t see a brawl over a pair of basic Nike Free Runs or Adidas Superstars because there is no exclusivity behind them. There might be a limited edition pair that has a dope colorway, but if it’s just the basic shoe then those companies are pumping out tons and tons of them. For example, in 2005, Jeff Staple of Staple Designs did a collaboration with Nike for the SB Dunk. SB Dunks were a highly sought after shoe around this time, but not the way these Dunks were. Staple and Nike had made a Dunk called the Staple Pigeon, based off of Jeff’s brand Staple Designs. Only 150 pairs were made and they were only sold in New York at Staple’s store in the Lower East Side. The day of the release people lined up and waited for the doors to open to buy this exclusive shoe. But when it got to be more people than the pairs of shoes, people were not happy. Riots started to break out and things started to get violent – just to purchase this shoe! Since then there have been many cases of violence and even murders over pairs of shoes just because they are hard to get, or otherwise known as exclusive.
Picture the sneaker game 50 years ago – it has definitely changed. Not only has the market of sneakers grown tremendously, but its two ingredients of branding – stories and strategy – behind each shoe that has brought the exclusivity in sneaker culture to the next level. We’ve learned that exclusivity brings higher prices, more bandwagoners, and more ridiculous and unnecessary ways of obtaining certain sneakers. Some of our favorite questions moving forward: what is next for the sneaker game and will the exclusivity behind certain sneakers continue to bring new measures to the sneaker world?
But, more so, what are the stories and strategies that will lead to the next era of exclusivity?
Now, here’s a question for you – how can your stories and strategies inspire that level of brand loyalty?