There is an increased demand for sneakers in India due to rise in popularity and awareness.
Suliman Sheikh, owner of Les basket, a sneaker reseller store believes he is changing the trend in the country. “We as resellers are playing a positive role in spreading the sneaker culture in India,” he said. Sheikh has seen the sales of street wear go up ten times at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. He sold sneakers worth Rs. 25 lakhs in a month during that period.
“I think the reason for the popularity is that people started exploring street wear fashion and started buying as they discovered these items,” he said. Suliman moved to India in 2014 from Canada as he saw an increase in sneaker popularity and reselling in the country.
Dushyanth and Jatin Lakhyani, sneaker collectors said that prior to 2018 they had to purchase sneakers from Dubai and US as there were no retailers in India. They also added that the resale value used to be too high because of lack of availability in the country.
But after 2018 they could purchase sneakers from stores such as Vegnonveg and Superkicks at maximum retail price (MRP) in India. The option of purchasing from different resellers also increased. About 80 per cent of their collection was created around this time. “It is so difficult to get a pair today compared to five years ago as the number of pairs released remain the same but demand has increased,” they added.
“I think due to high demand and low availability because of limited stock it is very tough to get a pair. There are people who are willing to pay double or maybe more for the sneakers on top of the retail. This is to avoid waiting in lines at stores overnight or having to try online at multiple websites with no guaranteed pair,” said Dushyanth.
He added that with an increase in awareness of sneaker culture through celebrities and collaborations, there are people who want to own a personal pair and make a profit of selling pairs.
Jatin says that he also thinks the business is mainly related to making profits and not spreading the culture.
“I can’t support that resellers are positively spreading the movement of sneaker culture as the goal is to make money out of it. I have never seen a sneaker guy trying to make less profit or not cheat by charging more money or sell a fake pair. Sneaker collectors like me, don’t mind paying resale value to add good pairs to the collection,” he added.
Along with a rise in the sneaker market, nowadays even sneaker NFTs are a popular thing. Dushyanth purchased a Jordan NFT and said that sneakers as NFTs are in demand in the meta verse.
“In my view, I think it’s only running on the hype that there would be a possibility of making money in the future or to be the first ones to own such things. I think it all depends on the usability of those NFTs in the end. As of now I don’t think many people are into the sneaker NFT but basing on how they can be utilized more people might get into it,” he added.
Vedant a sneaker reseller from Mainstreet said that the main reason for the increase in popularity is due to limited availability and demand for that particular pair. For example, Air Jordan 1x Travis Scott sold for whopping Rs.1.7 lakh per pair which is retailed at Rs.13,495.
He thinks that Bollywood and pop culture played a major role in promoting sneaker culture in India. He added that the hype for the sneakers has dramatically increased during recent times, locally and globally, mostly due to influence from celebrities wearing them and sneaker collaborations with notable luxury brands. With resale platforms like Stockx setting record sales, it increases the demand.
Indrajit Bairagya, Assistant professor, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) said, “Sneakers used to be a very niche market in India in 90s. The culture or phenomenon took off recently in the Indian market as in India most of these sneakers are considered luxury. The Gen Z is the major reason for the market boom in the last five years. Most of these resellers are young people as well and they are using social media to promote the culture.
He added that the pandemic also boosted the awareness of this market through pop culture, Hollywood and social media. The sneaker resellers are the ones who benefit as they are the only ones selling these limited shoes and the market has skyrocketed in the last two years. Right now, it’s not a niche market anymore and became mainstream like any other apparel wear.