Taking "L's": Is It Really Too Hard To Get Sneakers?
This week, a popular fashion/sneaker blog, asked if sneakers were getting too difficult to acquire. Writer, Russ Bengston, recently spoke about something that has been aggravating many sneaker lovers, since e-commerce started to revolutionize how goods are sold.
"So, sneaker 'culture' amounts to people lusting after a shoe they can't even buy, driven in part by influencers they don't even like. It's a bunch of people who never win, being convinced again and again that next time they'll have a chance. When the reality is they absolutely won't." -RB, via Twitter
The problem isn't that limited releases are "too hard to get". They're limited. That's the point. Literally, hundreds of SKUs make it to market each year, from all of these brands.
And, that's if you don't combine categories. There are TONS of other products to expose to consumers. Tons of other products for us to love.
The sneaker culture we grew to love and remember, was built around the scarcity of information, AND products. This problem has a couple of different facets:
-Consumers are being marketed to, and also don't want to believe they are. You only know what's available to you.
In the last 30 days, how many times have you seen the most recent Off-White x AJ4 release, on your feed? We see the same cast of characters every day. Kith/RF, Virgil/OW, Kanye/Yeezy, Pharrell, Nigo, PJ Tucker, Travis Scott, Jerry Lorenzo/FoG.
This group of designers/collaborators represents less than 10% of the shoes that make it to market, in a calendar year. I want to believe that I have a choice, and I'm seeing everything. If I'm being truthful...I know I'm not.
My sneaker hot take of the year: ANTA, and Li-Ning, are putting together some really solid product. Robbie Fuller, formerly of adidas, has been doing some great design work for ANTA for a few years now. Innovative silhouettes.
Great color palettes. But, I literally have to dig to find product info, or links to buy, across some of the major sneaker media platforms. Imagine that? In 2020, I have to go out of my way to find info, on styles that don't dominate the ad cycle. Which oddly...sounds like..."SNEAKER CULTURE IN THE EARLY 2000s." But, that's another post.
-Many social media accounts (and the blogs they evolved from), report on the same styles and collaborations, incessantly. Leak pics. The "leak, inspiration photoshop" mock-up. Factory sample leak. First celebrity sighting pic. Outfit inspiration pic.
Full brand seeding roll-out images. We know the drill. This is time that could be spent presenting more well-rounded selections of products.
It's a vicious cycle though. Spreading the love across styles and brands, may not yield the same likes and follows. Metrics = Money/Influence. So, they post what consumers have been trained to care about.
So, this isn't an issue of bots. It's not a problem of companies needing to manufacture larger quantities. Limited releases were ALWAYS hard to get.
That's why they are limited. Here's a solution. Put the veil of secrecy back up. No more official release dates. Drop shoes to accounts on a quarterly basis. Stores can make stock available when they get their shipments in.
Brands don't need to tell everyone what's coming out in advance. Put the same marketing dollar behind styles that are currently in-stock. Nike/Dior would have possibly been one of the greatest releases of all time, had it been a surprise.
We don't have to know about "everything". And, when the companies stop using social media as a giant billboard, our thinking may change, about what product IS...
Off-White AJ4 image via Sneaker Politics