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A Sneakerhead's Fight: A Review of Sneaker Supply Systems and Faulty Apps

For those who are into the sneaker game, the resale dynamic is not far away, nor is it strange. Everyone has gone to a reseller to get that holy grail that is impossible to obtain for one reason or another. Of course, scalping itself is part of the game, but only in recent years has it escalated to levels unimaginable, even for brands like Nike.

Let's remember a little about what devotion to a couple can cause. In 2005, when Google was not yet what it is now, and Instagram did not exist, the Pigeon phenomenon occurred. In collaboration with Nike, Jeff Staple launched the Nike Dunk SB Low Staple NYC Pigeon.

People in New York City go crazy for this pair, and it is even said that someone carried a machete to get one. The police officers tried to control the situation, sellers did what they could to protect their buyers, and the phenomenon was recorded in the national and international press. As a result, the love for sneakers began to resonate but also the different options to get a pair of sneakers.

One of the easiest was resellers, people exclusively in charge of getting the pairs on their launch day and providing them to those who are on the outside looking in. What started as an answer to a question (how can I get my most wanted pair?) turned into a practical solution when the Yeezy raffles began. From there, the resellers became more than just trained people. They became people with strategies to get the pairs and, once out of the store, increase the value of it as soon as possible.

For brands, this is not a problem since they can increase the value of their products based on market demand. Convenient and functional, except when someone gets it wrong or makes a mistake.

The Trophy breakout

The impact of the sneakerhead world came to light when traditional sales strategies surpassed what was established. But also when resellers began to have access to more than just a pair.

By this, we are referring to incidents such as the Trophy Room (Michael Jordan's son's store), where the launch of the Jordan 1 discovered his relationship with resellers such as Benjamin Kickz. The launch of this pair made it clear that scalpers had privileges over ordinary buyers—an underlining assumption within the community and brands.

As Fabian Gorsler from Highsnobiety said years ago: “Reselling is part of the game, but there’s a huge difference between a kid in need of cash who got lucky and organized backdooring that supplies well-known resellers with way more than their fair share.” (Gorsler, 2020).

The problem itself is not the resale, but the advantage that some can have over others and all that they can profit from the devotion of a few.

Are Sneaker App in the favor of the sneaker head community?

As if the relationship between resellers and store owners weren't the only problem that needs to be addressed, sneakerheads also have to deal with the use of technology in this game. But with the advent of the internet and the creation of Nike's SNKRS app, all this got out of hand. Changing Sneaker launches to online and app draws. Making reselling more of the goal and not collecting sneaker for the love of fashion.

Resellers now use one of the essential tools on the internet (bots) to take advantage of virtual queues and even take down entire web pages. In this scenario, many found a way to evolve and have a better lifestyle, in addition to getting closer to the peers they loved the most, such as the case of the creator of Cybersole, who appeared in the NY Times a few years ago telling his story.

In the article, he talked about how he first experimented with technologies; he learned a basic automation script to submit 50,000 entries into a sneaker raffle. In 2018 he started Cybersole to resell sneakers, and years later, he is one of the leading workers for Shopify.

But just as this guy managed to make a huge company of bots with little programming knowledge, many out there are doing it and showing the world that users seem to be more advanced in taking advantage of the Nike system than the system itself. Nike.

In the particular case of the SNKRS app, there are already several incidents that users have reported when purchasing a pair (especially on launch days). The most recent was the one written by users like @@jonastheprince, who practically asked the justice department to investigate Nike and the SNKRS app for all the errors reported when buying the recent Jordan 1 Lost and Found.

Many responded with proof of the app's flaw and how the backdoor phenomenon could also be taking over the app. Something that in itself should not happen in an application, be it Nike or any other brand since there is supposed to be a department in charge of minimizing these errors and not maximizing them and making them visible in such a significant release.

For resale, but rather the advantage that some can have over others and all that they can profit from the underground.

A big problem, but the solution? Here many put on the table the wide range of solutions that there may be to the issue of bots in resale. Not because they want to end the original problem but to modify it to serve the primary user: sneakerheads and ordinary and mortal buyers.

Some stores like Bodega and Shopify have developed digital sales systems that ask users to complete specific challenges to prove they are human. Others claim that the solution is to "do" it again manually.

The answer may lie in a hybrid between returning to the old game of the sneaker game or improving the already available technology. The point here is, how far are we willing to take this problem to demand a solution? Only time and the brave who dare to play this new season of the sneaker game will find out.

2023 will be a new roll out from Nike on protection against bots and a refurbished program to help combat along side sneakerhead's in the battlefield of sneaker gentrification.

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