With streetwear & sneaker giants Supreme, Nike & adidas regularly releasing trainers with celebrity or designer collaborations in limited quantities, getting your hands on the latest streetwear drops or pair of sneakers can be a very lucrative game. However, with the resale market becoming bigger, and more profitable than it ever has before, getting the latest pair of sneakers may become even harder. The brands have created a stream of endless demand, with their own-brand designs serving the more loyal customers and collaborations with celebrities driving a mainstream demand. The culture has been amplified by the release of new, limited-edition clothing and footwear brands.
It was only a few years ago that on a cold October night would you find thousands of twenty-something’s descending on a high street shop on big release days. But fast forward to 2020 and getting your hands on the latest sneaker drops require 3 small things. An iPhone, the right app, and detective-like research to receive news on the latest Nike, OFF-WHITE or Supreme drops.
Enter the world of sneaker bots.
A sneaker bot is a piece of software designed to aid in the purchase of limited availability stock. As the name implies, sneaker bots often target sneakers, but the concept remains the same for any product with a limited quantity. Sneaker bots are flourishing, often buying most of this precious stock in seconds and leaving loyal consumers frustrated and out-of-pocket. Take the Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 Hi as an example, fans could buy a pair in the shops for around £140. However, in a recent article the BBC found some for sale at the trainer convention, Crepe City, in London, with a price tag of £1,400. You can find them online for upwards of £2,500.
George Sullivan who is the founder of The Sole Supplier, a website dedicated to discussing all things trainers told the BBC, “Generally, re-sellers will get banned from retailers, if they’re known, because the brands just don’t like it. They want people to be able to wear their shoes. It’s just like people reselling tickets for concerts. It’s not fair.”
However, as retailers become increasingly aware of the bad bot. Reebok told the BCC it is trying to block bots to be able to give fans a fair chance of getting their hands on their trainers. The firm said it was an “ever-changing landscape” and re-sellers were “constantly finding new methods of beating the system”.
If retailers want to stop bots buying up their stock in seconds on drop day, surely its the companies making the technology they need to tackle and not the re-sellers themselves.