When Alan and Barris Vinogradov and Yu-Ming Wu founded and launched Sneaker Con in 2008, they had a vision of providing a destination for the ever-growing sneaker community to engage, rage and discover new kicks. They had no idea that their gathering would achieve mega-status as soon as they opened their doors.
With its inaugural event in New York City attracting over 3,000 people, by 2014, they hit up other cities, trademarked the phrase “The Greatest Sneaker Show on Earth,” moved into Asian markets, and created a digital marketplace to match their traveling brick and mortar business.
Now, the world’s premier sneaker show — providing room for vendors and attendees to buy, sell and trade the most sought-after footwear in the game with the help of eBay’s authenticators — are bringing Sneaker Con to Philly, Feb. 11 at the Convention Center.
Will Debord, Managing Director of Sneaker Con, has been with the organization since before its start (“the first employee”) and its first sneaker event in the hallway of a comedy club in New York City with 20 vendor tables.
“Sneakers were more niche then,” recalls Debord. “Sneakers were a part of who we were in NYC, playing basketball, but step away from New York, the culture wasn’t so big.”
Now, thousands of vendors and audience participants take part in every Sneaker Con event due to the shoes’ infiltration within the culture, and the level of high-ticket collectability in regard to the rarest sneakers.
“Kids started learning about the culture and the collectability, and sneakers – and Sneaker Con – took on a life of its own,” says Debord, who, in part, credits YouTube, social media and reputable online sales sites as pushing the growth between sneakers and his convention.
“The growth of Sneaker Con is an example of how the community and the culture is growing. It’s reciprocated. The more effort we put to getting more people to our events, the experience leads to higher attendance and more interactivity the next year. The more places we hit, the more opportunities we have of bringing our spin to the community – in some markets we keep coming back year-after-year.”
Sneaker Con Philly will feature a partnership with eBay who act as the convention’s authentication partner. “High priced goods mean the possibility of fakes and counterfeits,” says Debord. “Along with us helping eBay launch its sneaker authenticity program, they come to Sneaker Con and authenticate whatever you have – bring your whole collection.”
Also at the Convention Center, several brands will host activations such as Monster Energy doing free haircuts and creating custom shoes, along with many new start-up boutique brands.
“That’s the great thing about Sneaker Con, the age of so many of these new, young business people, 15-year-olds starting their own clothing lines,” says Debord.
Debord’s rarest, most loved sneaker just happens to be the Air Jordan, Off-White, Chicago design, fashioned by the late Virgil Abloh of Louis Vuitton fame. “I have that shoe on the mantle; definitely one of my grails,” says the Sneaker Con’s marketing director.
Along with the hustle-and-bustle of fast sales and on-floor trading at Sneaker Con — like the stock market — Debord notes that energy and enthusiasm runs as high as some of the top-tier prices of the rarest of sneakers. “The culture of business and young entrepreneurial spirit runs hot and high at Sneaker Con.”
For information and tickets, visit sneakercon.com