Why LVMH Is Taking a Stake in a Sneaker Store

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Stadium Goods founders

Stadium Goods is not just any sneaker store. It’s a purveyor of premium basketball shoes and streetwear, with customers including rappers, athletes and other sneakerheads with money to splash out on multiple pairs of shoes at a time. So it came as no surprise that LVMH has announced it’s buying a stake in Stadium Goods.

The sneaker consignment store (and still takes in in-demand used shoes) and haute retailer’s description:

“We are a premium sneaker + streetwear marketplace selling only the most sought after footwear, apparel and other hard-to-find items on behalf of our sellers. We are driven by our principles and committed to providing the best consumer and consignment experience there is.

We source, scramble and curate the best selection of sneakers we can find from around the globe. We’re here to help you find just the right pair, or if it’s streetwear you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.”

Stadium Goods

LVMH, European owner of premium luxury brands Louis Vuitton, CELINE and Dior, is eager to learn firsthand about the art of supply and demand and the dark art of knowing what’s hot and how to tease “drop” release-driven retail, as perfected by Supreme, adidas (Yeezy) and Nike (Air Jordan).

LVMH’s Luxury Ventures initiative launched last year to acquire minority stakes in emerging luxury brands is investing in Stadium Goods, an online marketplace for sneakers and apparel with a brick and mortar store in NYC’s Soho.

Beyond learning it may apply to its luxury brands, LVMH’s intent with its stake is to help grow the global sneaker and streetwear marketplace.

Stadium Goods was co-founded in 2015 by John McPheters and Jed Stiller along with CMO Yu-Ming Wu, the mind behind the world’s biggest sneaker exposition (New York’s SneakerCon).

Their growth has been consistent and steady. Shortly after opening the 3,000-square-foot space, Stadium Goods announced a partnership with eBay to create exclusive custom sneaker and streetwear content, followed by a deal in 2016 with China’s Alibaba and its 11.11 Tmall global shopping spree.

A $4.6 million round of financing in January 2017 from Forerunner Ventures (Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, Jet.com) and The Chernin Group opened the way for further growth, followed by a deal with online retailer Zalando, giving European consumers access to shop its catalog online.

Stadium Goods - DJ Khaled

The store is the location for the Sneaker Shopping web series on YouTube with Complex, which McPheters calls a major awareness-driver. Featuring 92 celebrities including Eminem, Roger Federer, JB Smoove, Usain Bolt, Gucci Mane, Rita Ora, DJ Khaled, Scott Disick and model Bella Hadid, the series has raised Stadium Goods’ profile globally.

“A good reason for us being able to grow so consistently is the storytelling we are able to do from our location,” McPheters told WWD. “It helps people know who we are and who they are interacting with.”

Stadium Goods launched a mobile app for iOS and Android on its 2nd anniversary and European sneaker fans will soon be able to purchase Kicks as well.

Stadium Goods app

“Our customer craves a shopping experience that is fast, convenient, as well as tech-forward and user-friendly,” McPheters told Footwear News.

“The app experience in general has become a preferred way to shop, and we felt it was the right time launch our take on the experience and give our customers that option,” he added.

“We have aggressive targets and expectations, as the app offers us a whole new way to communicate and merchandise to our customer base. Fully leveraging our competitive advantages and exclusive access to specific inventory and releases will really grow sales in our opinion, and more importantly further cater to our loyal repeat customers.”

As TechCrunch notes, “In a sense, it’s predictable that Jed Stiller and John McPheters would morph their retail store into a digital tour de force. Stiller previously invested in the retail analytics company Swarm Mobile, acquired by acquired by Groupon in 2014. And McPheters previously worked as director of business development at Flight Club, another vaunted retailer of vintage like-new sneakers.”

Data from Dun & Bradstreet’s First Research and the National Association of Resale Professionals reports that the resale industry generates $9.42 billion in annual sales in the US alone.

Stadium Goods sells sneakers and apparel from brands including Supreme, Palace, Adidas and Nike. Fans can spend as little as $45 for a pair of Nike Dunk Low Premium SB QS up to $23,000 for a pair of Eminem Air Jordan 4 retros.

Still, they don’t rest on their laurels. As McPheters told Hypebeast, “everyday is a challenge to get more people in the store; how do you get more people on the site; how do you get your name out and present it the right way to a bunch of different people?” Hustle, he said, is a mix of “fear, anxiety and motivation.”

With backing now from LVMH, the sneaker seller can kick into even higher gear.

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