From the 7th to the 8th of May, the 12th edition of Sneakerness, the largest sneaker fair in Europe, will take place in Zurich. In an interview, co-founder and CEO Sergio Muster talks about trends, sneaker NFT and personal recommendations.
This weekend, sneakerheads and like-minded people gather to discover, buy and sell all kinds of sneakers at the Sneakerness Convention in Hall 622 in Oerlikon and simply immerse themselves in the lifestyle related to the subject. After all, sneakers have long been more than just symbols of streetwear culture. They are status symbols and investments. For a specific audience, selected sneakers have a high status that borders on fetish – similar to designer handbags or other luxury products such as watches, cars or wine.
Sneakerness, which also takes place this year in London, Milan, Cologne, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, is above all a trading place where private collectors and individual sellers as well as professional retailers offer their wares – including rarities in their original packaging. Here you can evaluate, talk shopping and haggle or just wonder.
Europe’s largest sneaker fair
Sneakerness 2008 in Bern arose when a handful of friends created a platform to share their passion for sneakers and the culture that comes with them. This scene has long since ceased to be homogeneous, but consists of different fields: Sports and fashion are the typical cornerstones of the community, but music and art are also heavily involved. Following the Zurich edition on 7 and 8 May, it will be held in Amsterdam on 4 and 5 June and in Paris from 23 to 25 June.
In an interview, co-founder and CEO Sergio Muster says what will be the topic of the upcoming Sneakerness:
NZZ Bellevue: Sergio Muster, how many sneakers do you own?
Sergio pattern: I have about 700 to 800 pairs. It’s pure collecting passion, I started as a typical sneakerhead. I’m proud of a first model of the “Air Max 90” from Nike. Today, I buy less than I used to and specifically look for a few specific models.
What can the audience expect from the upcoming Sneakerness?
Over 10,000 pairs of shoes are on offer, whether it is for running shoes or collectors of rarities. Of the approximately 65 sellers, approximately 4 to 5 are “premium dealers”. While hobby sellers offer a few models, the latter specializes in full-time resale. Our goal is to promise that at Sneakerness you can find the original and physical shoes you have long dreamed of. Exceptions are, of course, very special rarities.
How expensive are the shoes that you can find at Sneakerness – and what can you earn at a sale?
The price range usually ranges from 100 to 1000 francs for a shoe. Of course, it’s higher for rare and special editions, such as the Nike Dunk “Panda” or Travis Scott collaborates. Since collectors flip through up to 12,000 francs. Depending on the model, salespeople generate a profit of several hundred francs.
Do you have a special focus on the new edition?
Yes, it lies in digitization. We are currently reviewing an appearance in Metaverse. The key point here: is society ready to go digital?
Speaking of metaverse and digital – what do you think of all the hype surrounding sneaker NFT and “digital sneakers”?
For me, the most important thing is still to wear sneakers. But I follow with interest the direction in which these digital sneakers are developing. At the upcoming Sneakerness in Zurich, the Permian brand from the UK will present a digital “Concept Sneaker”. One possible scenario is that a real shoe will be realized at a later date, based on feedback from the audience.
Is this hype about NFT sneakers not just hot air?
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) is an exciting topic when it comes to the digital future and investment. The startup collectID connects physical products such as limited sneakers with blockchain via NFT. This guarantees the authenticity of the sneakers, so that the owners not only have a digital image of their sneakers, but also a digital certificate of authenticity. This is an extremely important criterion, especially when it comes to investing.
Futuristic designs are quite popular with newer sneaker designs, be it Yeezy-models or a range of digital concept designs. What other design trends are hot?
The rather clumsy, “complicated” sneakers are equated with classics like “Dunk” from Nike or “Air Jordan 1”. These are currently experiencing a resurrection. But I also find stylistic mixes of performance and lifestyle interesting, as Asics does.
Who are the most interesting newcomers?
I find the KangaRoos brand very exciting right now. They handmade high quality sneakers “made in Germany”.
What trends are over or on the way?
A few years ago, the “Air Max” from Nike was particularly popular with the Swiss audience Until recently, father-sneakers were popular, as models from Adidas and Puma. The trend is leveling out, as is the hype surrounding Yeezys. From my point of view, it is “over” – today it is almost standard models. Today, trends are changing much faster. Opinion makers like Travis Scott or ASAP Rocky generate this rapid hype that is spreading like wildfire thanks to social media. This is of course exciting, but also a great challenge.
Are there still differences between the different markets in today’s global, highly networked age?
The United States is certainly a leader in sneaker culture, at least in the mainstream. Once again, Asians are leading the way. What’s happening in Tokyo, for example, is what designers and influencers are looking for. These trends then spread to the United States and eventually to Europe.
Can you name a typical sneaker audience?
In general, the core audience in the broad sneaker market is between 14 and 22 years old. In this age group, it is important for many to show what sneaker they are wearing. This is equivalent to a good bottle of wine – solely a matter of taste, but also associated with prestige. As long as this preference for “show-off” is not exaggerated and cultivated morbidly, it is certainly fun.
How do you assess that almost all major fashion and luxury brands have dedicated themselves to the topic of sneakers in recent years?
It is a positive development that high fashion brands have adopted streetwear and sneakers. Kim Jones, creative director of menswear at Dior, as well as the sadly deceased Virgil Abloh, who designed for Off-White and the menswear line Louis Vuitton, are particularly influential. Both have greatly promoted the look and streetwear mentality.
Since Corona – but not only – former leisure items such as sweatpants, sweatshirts or hoodies fill more and more of our everyday wardrobe. Meanwhile, shoes with a running look are almost “socially acceptable”.
Do you have other sneaker recommendations?
“992” from New Balance is simply an honest, rather chunky sneaker. Besides KangaRoos, Sonra Berlin is also exciting when it comes to sustainability.
What shoes are still missing in your collection?
Nike Mag Back to the future.
Sneakerness Zurich 2022
In addition to selling shoes, the program in Hall 622 in Oerlikon, Zurich, also includes: a 3×3 basketball tournament, an e-gaming corner and a women’s corner with women’s sneakers, accessories, bags and a nail studio. Interesting are lectures like those by sneaker entrepreneur Chris from Retro Shop Paris or David Geisser from CollectID on “NFT and Metaverse”, moderated by Tamás “Dalbty” Trunk. A two-day pass costs 31 francs.