Sneakers. We all love ’em to death, but that certainly doesn’t make the culture perfect. With that being said, we propose 10 fixes to make things even better in 2015.
From stepping up the quality to (gasp) eliminating hard drop dates for online releases, while each of these ideas to help sneaker culture aren’t specifically tied together, they are all suggestions which we feel could make things better overall…even if just one were to be instituted.
Some negative issues in sneaker culture may never be eliminated, especially as long as sneakers hold value above their retail price point. But even with these proposals, we know we aren’t the only ones who have ideas how to make things better. Take a look at what we put together and please let us know in the comments section below what proposed fixes you would like to see in the future for sneaker culture.
Put the classics back in the vault.
Obviously, the plethora of sneaker releases available nowadays has it’s advantages. We love being able to have the chance to cop some of our favorite kicks nearly every weekend. But damn, sometimes it gets exhausting. And not just for the old wallet. With such a fat bounty of retro and new colorways available to us, come the dangers of over-saturation and over exposure. We all heard about Jordan Brand putting the IIIs on ice for a while. And other brands like Asics have been rumored to be stashing some classics in the vault too. We actually think that’s a great idea, and one more brands should take the hint on. Maybe we should chill on the Jordan XI, or the Is. Perhaps take a beat and enjoy all the dope Asics Gel Lyte Vs or Pump Furys we’ve gotten over the past few years. All we’re saying is that sometimes, let’s take some time to appreciate what we have already.
Use of better quality materials.
Jordan Brand has already taken the hint here, with it’s introduction of the Remastered program, promising higher quality construction and materials. But we’d like to see more brands get on board with the whole less frequent, higher quality releases. Look, we’re fed up with sneaker prices too. But honestly, what are we gonna do? Not cop sneakers? Come on now. We’ll just be more selective with our purchases. And, if we’re getting more selective, and paying for that premium mark up, we’d like to see quality that matches the higher price tag.
Increase the levels of production on high-profile releases.
We know exclusivity will never lose it’s allure in the fashion and retail game, and that this one is pretty far fetched. But, let’s be real; when Jordan Brand drops that latest retro, exclusivity hurts more folks than it helps. While it’s nice to have something that not many others do, think about what it would be like if everyone who wanted a pair could actually buy a pair for retail. Long gone are the days of going into your local Foot Locker and actually trying on a hot sneaker anymore. And we think, to a certain extent, that has hurt sneaker culture. We’re not saying that exclusivity should go away entirely. But, if the production levels of Jordan 11 Retros (or similar kicks) were increased to meet the demand, or at least a bit closer to it, we feel like a lot of sneakerhead drama could be reduced.
We don’t think it’s such a crazy notion to produce more of the sneakers that actually sell, while scaling back some of the production on models that end up sitting. At the end of the day, most people will end up being able to buy a lot of these over-produced models for 40%-50% off retail.
Slow the flow of retro releases and refocus on innovation.
While increased production could solve some issues, perhaps it’s the opposite that might yield some solid returns. We know that, with sneaker companies recording record profits, this one is a long shot. But, to borrow a term from our communications classes, we feel like sneakerheads are becoming desensitized. With every weekend stacked with multiple top-shelf releases, people have started losing the appreciation they once had for some their favorite brands and silhouettes (we certainly are too). If companies slowed production, or instead of just retro’ing the old, started focusing more on creating something new, we think it would make their eventual releases more special. People could regain the love they once had for these brands. It’s not just about putting model silhouettes on ice, sometimes less is more overall.
Basically, it’s about putting more effort into growing other areas. Instead of pushing out retro releases over and over, how about putting marketing efforts towards some of the other styles in the catalog. A lot of new models receive relatively zero marketing other than the typical social/blog post. If brands were to build hype for other styles, it would even the choices for those who are old school ‘heads versus those just buying because the next kid is too.
Creating microsites and special-launch redesigns.
Look, we know this suggestion might not be possible for every brand, shop or release out there, but we’ve seen this bot-fighting tactic put out by the likes of Shopify and Kith before: tweaking your website design prior to major releases, so bots don’t know where to look or what to expect. Ronnie Fieg and Kith are always about innovation, and that desire to change the game extended to their webshop when Kith dropped their ECP collection back in 2013. The day before the collection was set to drop, they closed the online store completely. When the site re-opened the next day, at the designated time, what sneakerheads saw was a completely renovated site. Asics heads had to quickly find where they had listed the sneakers on a site they had never navigated before and it was brilliant. Like a treasure hunt for sneakerheads. Again, we know this isn’t a scalable solution. But for those one-off shops that drop super-limited collabs, it’s a brilliant way to throw a curve to the bots.
More frequent surprise releases.
This would be madness, but one way to shake the sneaker game up would be to return to the days of old without preset release dates. Again, perhaps not the most scalable solution, and you still have the uphill battle against those always-on bots out there (yes, they’re out there). But, we do think it’d be cool for a shop to announce the sneaker with product shots and description the week prior, and have the release come at random day and time the next week.
Similar to the infamous #KITHSTRIKEs, this would keep a lot of folks on their toes and prevent days-long sneaker line ups at your local brick and mortars. Simply put, when you announce an exact date and time for your drop, traffic floods the site and causes all kinds of trouble. Just look what happened with the Red Octobers. Sure, some resellers flourished, but no one got jacked or stabbed at a shop lineup. No one lost their job for hooking up their homies. It was pretty awesome to see Nike go with the random release like that…especially for such a high-profile sneaker.
More consistent restocks.
Nothing a sneakerhead loves more than a good old fashioned restock. And, while we still get heated when we happen to be away from a computer when one happens, it’d be nice to see shops and brands restock more frequently. That way, if you miss out the first time, at least you get another shot…at retail.
Loyalty benefits for brick and mortar shops.
Have a local brick and mortar with an adidas Consortium or Nike Tier Zero account? Or perhaps one known for their excellent collabs? How awesome would it be if these shops tracked buyer loyalty and tied that to release priority. Oh, their next collab is ultra-limited? How about giving the top 20% of your most frequent customers an early chance to cop by pre-order? Sure, this idea could create some drama with the backdoor deals. But how many times have you come up empty handed at your local spot? That’s always so much worse than striking out online.
Educating the consumer.
You know how casinos run those ads to help people cope with their gambling addictions? Perhaps Nike should invest in some ad time to help people understand that compulisive shopping is troublesome too, and perhaps you don’t NEED to cop every sneaker that drops. Sure, it might not “fix” the culture per se, but it might help some of us out there with those impulse control issues. We’re certainly not immune to this ourselves!
Creating buyer profiles on NDC and larger retailers.
Similar to the shop member presale idea, it might help NDC (Nike.com) crack down on bot sellers if they required purchasers to setup and verify an account. That way, Nike could more accurately track a user’s behavior within the site, and flag and blacklist users, or even whole IP addresses that are caught gaming the system. Look, there will never be a perfect solution for a company as large as Nike. But one thing they’ve always proven to have plenty of is money and resources. So, if they really wanted to take a chunk out of the bot game, you know they probably could.