The world has embraced sneaker resale — growing the segment seemingly overnight to a multibillion dollar market — but is the world ready for sneaker subscription services?
As more limited releases launch and sneaker enthusiasts fail to secure these styles due to online bots, backdoor sales and very high resale prices, businesses like SoleSavy, Sneakertub, FTL, Kicks on a Budget, Studio Sole and newly launched Kyx World look to democratize the sneaker industry.
The businesses have different types of subscription models. For some, the users stay up to date on drops and connect, like SoleSavy, and others allow users to try and wear limited release sneakers for a month, like Kyx World.
“[SoleSavy] starts from my passion as a sneakerhead, but my frustration with the industry,” said SoleSavy cofounder Dejan Pralica.
Pralica and Justin Dusanj founded SoleSavy in 2018 to serve as a middle ground for collectors and build a community of sneakerheads and help them secure the styles they’re shopping for directly from the brands and retailers. They also buy inventory from retail, but they aim to work with brands directly by 2022. The cofounders raised $2 million in funding in January.
“They value the community and the camaraderie more than anyone else,” Pralica said. “There is no world in sneakers where you have a 100 percent success rate. There are ups and downs and throughout all of that, they want other people who enjoy that and wouldn’t judge them for their spending habits.”
Users subscribe to the platform for $33 a month to learn about sneakers, monitor sneaker drops, enroll for prizes and discounts, save their info to buy sneakers much faster and begin collecting either as an individual or with a partner through what Pralica described as “Community in Cohorts.”
SoleSavy also onboarded Toronto-based sneaker influencer Anna Bediones to build the company’s women’s community. Pralica explained that some women in sneaker communities will intentionally hide their faces and their identities in mixed communities out of safety, but in communities of women they are more open to sharing.
“It changes how they interact,” he explained. “If you are a woman that loves sneakers, you can be in our community or women’s only community. Buy that Air Jordan 1 Mid sneaker, wear it and don’t feel judged. At the end of the day, sneakers are sneakers.”
While SoleSavy is a platform for new and existing sneaker enthusiasts to come together and learn, share and shop, Kyx World offers subscribers about one to four sneakers a month to choose from to wear out, and even buy if the style if they wish to keep it.
“The company was born out of my own behavior,” said Kyx World chief executive officer Brian Mupo. Mupo and cofounder Steve Dorfman launched the rental subscription company on June 1 offering Nike collaborations with rapper Travis Scott and designer Virgil Abloh, as well as Jordan Brand sneakers and Yeezys. There are currently 3,500 shoes in inventory procured in a variety of ways including resale sites and cleaned thoroughly for scuffs and marks with even UV lighting.
Mupo said subscribers won’t be charged for scuffs, but they will if they go too far like “pour paint on it,” he said.
“I used to buy and sell sneakers,” Mupo said. “We had a tutoring company that was a successful company that afforded me the ability to buy shoes when I wanted to and sell them for a small profit or loss. I was engaging in a super capital intensive and time heavy rental model. That behavior was not limited to me but others were engaging in the same behavior.”
Mupo added that a big part of the company’s marketing push are female sneaker collectors, saying that a quarter of their subscribers are women which outpaces the trend of the market.
“Women are more likely to subscribe than the male counterparts in a per capita basis,” he said. “We offer inclusive sizing and selections for women and men and creates an equal opportunity for access to top trending sneakers.”
But the problem both subscription services look to solve is accessibility. Sneakerheads expect to miss out on drops on Nike’s Snkrs app and Adidas’ Confirmed app, as well as in-store raffles where friends of retailers’ are rumored to win, and online releases where resellers flood the system with bots that can buy multiple pairs in just a few seconds.
Retailers have upped their security in order to combat bots and resellers, but the battle continues. Things came to a head when Ann Hebert resigned from Nike after her son, Joe Hebert, was revealed to be a reseller, which raised concerns for shoppers and collectors who continuously failed to get sneakers on Nike’s Snkrs app, which was under Hebert’s purview. The two platforms aim to level the playing field for true shoppers and collectors that may be left out of the sneaker community because of the retail to resale pipeline.
“I’m tired of the loudest voice being resale,” Pralica said. “This is going to become a problem in different areas. There’s ticketing where resale was a problem in the industry. Playstation 5 consoles are a pain to buy. At the end of the day, the brands don’t know who their customer is, what’s in demand or not or being pumped up in resale. Everything is designed by how much volume we can extract out of people. It’s cold and not fun.”
Mupo has a different outlook on how subscription can change the game, saying, “This limited release pie is growing quite quickly. It’s a $10 billion industry now and will double in size over the next 10 years and the way I see us is a natural evolution beyond resale because prices rise so much before economics take hold and we have to find a more efficient way.”