“That space that I occupy in Harvey Nichols is worth £2.5 million pounds a year turnover. You’re not going to be able to do that selling Huaraches.”
Within this ever-evolving sneaker culture of ours, it’s always a breath of fresh air when someone has the heart to step up and take on the insurmountable dual task of serving as a hub for all of its creative outlets and capturing the many elements that come with it.
This was the lofty dream held by Fresh Laces founders Nathan and Louie back in 2013. The two sneaker-heads, who share a friendship that goes back to the school playground, delivered their debut sneaker lifestyle event in the heart of London that won the hearts of many crepe enthusiasts. Since this inception Fresh Laces has gone from strength to strength, evolving from a mere modest sneaker event, to a curator of the culture, to now setting up a consignment store within the walls of Knightsbridge’s luxury department store Harvey Nichols. But while some detractors may not understand the bold move by this dynamic-duo, we sat down with one of it’s maverick founders to get his take on the how his brand has now breached the boundaries of the reselling game in just 2 short years, the backlash they’ve received and the UK Sneaker scene as a whole.
CJ: When did you first decide on doing your own event?
Nathan: “Well my wife is a businesswomen and she has always been in to doing events herself selling jewellery. She really pushed me to host an event because she knows trainers are my passion and I’m a collector, I love shoes and I love the whole community around the culture. However at first I wasn’t going to do it to be honest, but she gave me a kick up the ass to do it and we made it happen.”
CJ: What’s your current take on the sneaker culture in the UK?
Nathan: “I think the culture has built itself to a really high level and now everyone wants to be involved in it, which is a good thing, at the same time there are some negatives, but overall I think the culture is healthy and good.”
CJ: How did the arrangement with Harvey Nichols come about?
Nathan: “A good friend of mine knew someone who worked at Harvey Nichols and they asked me if they could come and check out the event. At this time I did not know that she worked for the store, she came through and loved the vibe and the fact that it was more then a typical market reselling place, so she said to us that she would love to replicate that within Harvey Nichols and within three month’s we made it happen in July 2014. At the event we had Jadakiss, Waka Flocka, Professor Green and Charlie Sloth come through which helped to propel us to where we are now.”
CJ: Did you always see a gap in the market where Air Jordans, could be priced higher then a Balenciaga or Giuseppe?
Nathan: “For years now we’ve had sneaker resellers in the UK, before we had these reselling spots we had import shops like Sports and Things in Streatham, where they would buy shoes from the states and sell them for double or triple what the price was. Things have only gotten bigger now, I would say since Kanye dropped the Yeezy in 2009 things have only got bigger but this price range for exclusive shoes has always been there. With this in mind Harvey Nichols approaches me with the idea and I sat back and thought how can I make it work? Having a consignment shop in one of the most expensive postcodes in the world. It would make sense to cater to that high-end customer, because a normal sneaker-head (no offense) doesn’t shop in Harvey Nichols. The core customer they attract is local to the area, be it affluent Arab’s, Chinese, business men, you know people with money and if that’s who Harvey Nichols is associated with then it doesn’t makes sense for me to set up a store where people can find bargains. Yes some of our stock may be very overpriced, I’m a sneaker head I know this myself but are we looking at this as a hobby or are we looking at this as a business? A lot of people complained about the £1000 pounds price tag Red Independence Day Air Max but I’ve sold two.”
CJ: Can you explain the concept of price per square foot?
Nathan: “The space I occupy in Harvey Nichols is worth £2.5 million pounds a year turnover. You’re not going to be able to do that selling Huaraches. I’m just trying to price our shoes up there with the high-end designers. In my eyes that super limited Air Jordan is worth just as much as a Louboutin and supply and demand shows us this.”
CJ: What has this done for the culture?
Nathan: “I think for the culture, its showing the top levels we can reach and no disrespect to anyone in particular but Yeezy’s going for up to £3000 pounds on Ebay at a sneaker event on a table. That kind of price is in line with a high-end shop. This kind of business doesn’t have to be on a street level, it can be corporate and high end.
We haven’t seen nothing like this before in a Harrods or Selfridges. Harvey Nichols have taken a street level concept and put it in their store for their high-end customers. I think it’s a celebration for how far we have reached, and where we can go.
CJ: How have you found the journey building Fresh Laces to where it is?
Nathan: “People need to understand that 3 years ago I was working on a building site with a dream of making a living by pursuing my passions which are football and trainers. I managed to do it with the trainers. I would like to see more heads looking this as a celebration of putting your mind to something, like our first event, we put that on in four weeks! We didn’t know what we were going to do at the start, but seeing it through and doing that event is what got us noticed by Harvey Nichols. So I ask are we going to keep making these brands billions or are we going to try and carve out a piece for ourselves? Why shouldn’t we be allowed to go from consumers to a business?”
CJ: Do you think more individuals within this culture should create businesses?
Nathan: “You can be on the fringes of the culture and enjoy it, but I find it more empowering to take control and be a success with what you love and enjoy. It should be everyone’s dream to make a living out of their passion.”
CJ: What advice would you give to that person who would want to make that move?
Nathan: “If it’s your passion, push for it you’re going to face obstacles and hit some brick walls but just keep pushing through. Stay loyal to your vision. Don’t chase the money, chase your passion and the money will come. Let things be organic and respect the culture.”
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