Sneaker Con Sydney, more FYRE than FIRE
The lingering buzz post-Meccaland had me in a tizzy as I was heading to Sydney the following weekend for Sneaker Con, the 'world's premier sneaker show.'
I'd been keeping up with IG updates from Sneaker Con in Shanghai, anticipating our local sneakerheads were in for a real treat with special guests such as Jeff Staple who made multiple appearances in Shanghai.
The futuristic brand activations looked hella good. A half court for b-ball, an authentication station to stamp your kicks legit, and of course the Wall-Street-ish Trading Pit, an area designated for trading, selling and buying.
Sneaker Con Shanghai, check out IG for more.
It was just a bigger Sneaker Freaker Swap Meet.
Sneaker culture fascinates me. The sociology of sneakerheads to the psychology of hype. Limited supply igniting chaotic demand, the business of buying and selling sneakers is just as serious as the stock market and also just as international.
Sneaker Con in Sydney was severely uneventful, and seemed like a bigger version of Sneaker Freaker Swap Meet. It was absolutely nothing like the event in China and no Jeff Staple. However, I did go with a few things to observe - production value (being a global show), audience, and the use of technology platforms.
Production value, there was none. Hip hop music through the speakers and giant Sneaker Con branded beach balls hung from the ceiling. Vendor stands were setup on trestle tables and no stage for special sessions.
The 'authentication station' was one guy sitting behind a booth with a torch and his phone Googling sneakers. Clearly, the Australian Sneaker Con was a diluted, budget conscious version, yet the people came in droves.
The audience, I had a sneaking suspicion would be full of teenage boys, Asians and a few women. Bang on correct, although it was probably an easy assumption to make anyway. I observed a few trades, polite rejections, listened to the lingo and took note of the product on show. Two tweens attempted to negotiate on a pair of Yeezy's, a sneaker I wish would die already. These kids had cash to burn, and might if they didn't close a deal.
I mostly enjoyed looking at people's feet to see what sneakers they were wearing. Having put some effort into coordinating my outfit, I proudly wore a pair of cherry red patent Converse sneakers. No photos to share though, the space was definitely not insta-worthy.
Digital tools and technology, look it was probably a high expectation to have but they did get me excited when it was announced there would be an Authentication Station.
Since Anti Social Social Club started using NFC chips in recent product drops, I thought perhaps there's a chance of something similar, sadly not.
However, I was surprised by something else at the show. Walking by a vendor stand, I noticed a group of Asian men huddled around a corner of the table in quiet negotiations for a particular pair of Jordan's.
The buyer was lingering, body language portrayed signs of dissatisfaction on price and the seller saying a hard no at going lower. Then the seller brought out his phone, a few swipes and shows the potential buyer what the same sneaker is selling for on StockX. Deal done.
There it was, a sign of innovation, maybe small but I was happy. To observe StockX used to seal a deal based on a stock market of sneakers was thrilling. I did notice the buyer walk away with his purchase and continue to verify the price he paid with his friends and online, but that seems to be part and parcel of the shopping journey.
I went to Sneaker Con as a sneaker enthusiast, but also to conduct research. The three things I was most interested in observing did not include product, why? Because product was the common denominator. I was there to experience the event, include myself in the culture of sneakers and then see how innovation and technology is implanted across product, transaction and community.
These are significant factors which connect us to a brand and what's involved when building trust and loyalty with individuals as well as groups of people. Something Mecca achieved in spades with Meccaland 2019, which you can read about here in this LI Article by Katie.
Finally, I'm disappointed in the lack of effort to delight through experiences in this country. We might be a small market to the outside world, but we are citizens taking part in global cultures. Maintaining the status quo because no one has suggested otherwise isn't the reason not to try. Take notes from some of our best events - Vivid Sydney, Pause Fest and Dark Mofo. Spice up your fashion, beauty or lifestyle business because it will boomerang back to you in the form of love, promotion and dollars.
Saskia Fairfull, Brand/Marketing/Tech