KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — Malaysia’s biggest sneaker resale community, SneakerLah is expanding its wings following a RM7.6 million investment in parent company Shake Hands Sdn Bhd.

The 22.47 per cent share stake was acquired by resale platform of South Korea’s web portal Naver Corp, Kream in July this year.

Speaking to Malay Mail, founder of SneakerLah Bryan Chin said the acquisition was part of Naver’s direction in branching out to South-east Asia by approaching players with a strong presence in the region.

SneakerLah is one of them as it has been pioneering the local sneaker resale community since 2015 through the annual SneakerLah event, where the latest one in 2019 amassed over 30,000 sneakerheads.

It has also curated a resale website for selling, trading and buying sneakers.

Chin described Kream as its strategic partner and that they will have a working relationship going ahead.

“To be honest we do not have an app, we’re not a tech company but I think the reason they found us is because we’ve been championing the community all this while.

“Obviously, they are more experienced in regards to a digital marketplace, and we should take this opportunity to learn from them when it comes to the app and how to operate as a tech company, because we don’t have that experience.

“But when it comes to the Malaysian market, they will learn from us, because at the end of the day this is Malaysia, and we know how to maneuver the Malaysian market,” Chin said.

He added that it was about being strategic and having an open mind to learning from each other and how to move the company forward.

The founder of SneakerLah, Bryan Chin. —  Picture courtesy of SneakerLah
The founder of SneakerLah, Bryan Chin. — Picture courtesy of SneakerLah

Spreading its wings

SneakerLah currently depends on physical events and its sole online marketplace website to distribute resale goods; however, with the partnership, it is looking at introducing its first ever physical store soon.

According to Chin, the store is expected to be a hybrid of both online (mobile application) and physical store.

“So, let’s say you bought a pair of RM500 Nike shoes, and you found out that you could resell it for RM1,000 but you don’t know how.

“You can bring it to the shop, and we can take a look and authenticate it and then after, we will list it out for you based on the current market price and we’ll just take a small percentage from the transaction for our fees,” he said.

Chin also shed light on its resale website which came to fruition during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 as at that time, there was a rise in online sellers in Malaysia due to the movement control order.

“Another trend that everyone was going into at that time was the Live sessions. Be it on Facebook Live or Instagram Live, even online shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada were doing that.

“And it works because even though I couldn’t physically feel the product, I can watch it live in real time.

“Now in this era of post-pandemic, we have to go with both online and offline,” he said.

Chin added that although with the current global economic outlook, the global sneaker market could still reach up to US$30 billion (RM134 billion) by 2030.

Malaysia’s footwear market is estimated to value around RM2.6 billion this year.

Resell culture is a mixture of ‘hype’ and economics according to Bryan Chin. — Picture courtesy of SneakerLah
Resell culture is a mixture of ‘hype’ and economics according to Bryan Chin. — Picture courtesy of SneakerLah

Behind the purchase and resell culture

The sneaker culture revolves around the reselling of limited-edition products from sneakers to clothing apparels to even jewellery.

Aside from just being a limited-edition goods, sneaker culture also relies heavily around the hype that’s been created behind the product.

According to Chin, there are a few factors contributing to the hype, with one of it being the role of resellers, which is considered key in the sneaker culture as they have a special privilege of setting the price tag for certain goods.

“There’s hype and economic sense to it; the economic sense to it is that, if a reseller works harder by queuing up early for the launching or drop-day, and they manage to get ahold of those limited shoes and the demand for it continues to rise.

“Of course, they would sell it for a higher price and when the price gets higher, the sense of value on the shoes will also escalate and people will appreciate it even more.

“If the shoes were easily available everywhere, people wouldn’t bat an eye on it. It’s just normal economics and psychology,” he said.

Although the ridiculous price tags for some of these products are normal in the sneaker culture, Chin added that it's important for buyers to also learn the reason behind it.

“Let’s say the price tag for a pair of shoes is RM100,000, you still need to find out the reason for it. Was it purely because of the hype behind it or are the shoes really limited? For example, recently Nike just dropped their collaboration with Louis Vuitton; the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 sneaker. The retail price for the shoes is RM12,000 but resellers are reselling it from RM50,000 to RM70,000, and there are people buying it.

“This is because it’s a very limited release due to Louis Vuitton who personally chooses their customers for the shoes in advance and it’s not available to the mass public,” he said.

Chin added that the Virgil Abloh’s The Air Force 1 by Louis Vuitton is currently one of the most sought-after sneakers in Malaysia with its value ranging from RM30,000 to RM40,000 per pair.

The sixth annual SneakerLah will be happening from this September 3 to September 4 at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre. — Picture courtesy of SneakerLah
The sixth annual SneakerLah will be happening from this September 3 to September 4 at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre. — Picture courtesy of SneakerLah

The return of SneakerLah

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SneakerLah will be making a comeback with its event from September 3 to September 4, taking place at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre.

This will be the sixth iteration of the event and instead of going big this year, Chin said that he wants to focus on reuniting with local sneakerheads.

“It’s the comeback but we’re not going too crazy. We just want to make it happen. I think we haven’t had a reunion for two years now.

“We just want a reunion for all the sneakerheads to come and hang out and meet with each other after two long years.

“There will be performances by Nakalness of the Force Park Bois, Luqman Podolski, Kungfu Heidi, Dato Maw, DJ Blink along with big brands joining in such as New Balance, New Era, Fossils and Asics,” he said.

The SneakerLah team is also hoping to attract bigger crowds than their 2019’s SneakerLah which has seen around 33,000 visitors coming in during the weekend.

Amongst the activities at their sixth annual event includes live performances, lucky draws, trading pit, product launching as well as fashion showcases.

For more ticketing information, please click here.