Taking "L's": Is It Really Too Hard To Get Sneakers?

Devin Allen

The problem isn't that limited releases are "too hard to get". They're limited. That's the point.

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...

Available now.

Off-White AJ4 image via Sneaker Politics

Comments (8)
No. 1-5
JackPonting
JackPonting

Very happy to read here popular sneaker blog and I am impressed with your writing skill.
Regards, Jack.
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281SnkrFiend
281SnkrFiend

My main problem is with not being able to get shoes that NOBODY wanted years ago that i genuinely love now that being a "sneakerhead is the cool thing to do since the 2011 Concords/Galaxy Foams releases. I knew things were gonna be hard when the 2012 "candy cane" 14's sold out instantly when that was once a shoe that was viewed as the beginning of the fall off of the Jordan signature line. Its crazy how many L's the SNKRS app has handed out since release dates for shoes have become more anticipated than album drops and you now have to resort to bots, stalking twitter feeds, or paying out the @@&##&#@ to a reseller.

went on a rant there, my bad lol

CanILivee
CanILivee

So, I hit on the "Grim Reapers" but missed on the "All Hallows Eve" blazers (which are the ones I really wanted)... this was the one and only time I took what would be considered a "dub" on SNKRS app.. I swear these last off-white IV's are the last hyped joints Ill try to buy.. bots make it impossible. Suburban hype beast fucked up the shoe game.

Ajlien
Ajlien

There are so many under the radar heaters that people will compliment you on more than most of the hyped releases, if you actually chose to buy them. We need more sneakerheads taking pride in expressing their personal style with these shoes. It's cheaper and it's more interesting

G-Roc
G-Roc

Editor

I’m all for the idea of no more release dates and dropping randomly. Shoes are available when they arrive at stores.

However, if I’m being honest with the “everyone’s a reseller” era - how much can we trust shops or their employees to put the “heat” on the floor?

I still love the idea tho. You bring up a lot of good points and as a blogger I struggle with not only waiting to post what’s popular or hyped or just posting Nike/Jordan.

But like you said I also pay attention to what TSG’s audience engages with. The key for me is balance and I try not to over post the same stuff. It gets frustrating.

It’s to the point where I reach out to brands to highlight more shoes that aren’t getting coverage AND sometimes I don’t post certain things because I like for some stuff to stay under the radar. That’s the truth!

MOST consumers are influenced by what they see the most which is why visibility is so important on social media, esp IG. It’s one big azz popularity contest and a lot of people don’t trust their own taste so they wait to be told what’s cool or what to buy.

I’ll stop here. I didn’t mean to write an article in the comments of your article, Devin!