When the global pandemic hit, sneaker events and streetwear conventions were the first things to go. These annual affairs were the highlight of any sneakerhead’s calendar — events where they could travel to, to meet up with people who love sneakers as much as they do, to gawk at sneakers together. These events are such a staple that 60% of our Straat Talk respondents have been to one.
With Covid-19, in place of these in-person events came digital sneaker events. Promising to offer all the perks of in-person events, these online gatherings were created as safe stomping grounds where sneakerheads, brands and artists could interact. No one has been spared; even big names like Sneaker Con have had to go online. It’s usually a fairly standard offering ranging from the likes of Culture Cartel to more immersive experiences like that of Complexland.
Sure, organizers make money and brands are happy, perhaps even relieved, that such digital sneaker events give them a platform to promote their products beyond the shelves, but what we really wanted to understand is just how successful have digital sneaker events been in replicating the experience of live events? To do that, we went to the people and polled them.
Sneaker Con goes online in 2021: Digital event created in partnership with NTWRK
79% of our respondents said that digital digital events can’t match up in-person conventions.
Some said there are elements that digital sneaker events can never replicate. They feel digital sneaker events can’t recreate the experience of being able to trade sneakers and hustle a quick deal; others say such online events simply aren’t made to facilitate face-to-face interactions — the reason for such community events in the first place.
“Looking & touching the physical item, making friends with other sneakerheads!!” – @astro.9ine
“Face to face interaction” – @a.series
According to one respondent @linychany, “[The] atmosphere and seeing people that share the same hobby as you,” is something that digital events haven’t successfully recreated.
But credit where it’s due, some polled say that digital events aren’t all bad, commending their ability to showcase sneaker culture by conducting discussions online.
“Showing off pieces with strong cultural meaning” – @thefkisupposedtoput
While countries are starting to get their vaccination plans rolled out, we’re still a long way away from reverting to the way things were. This only means that digital sneaker events are here to stay, with some, like Complexland, aiming for greater heights.
“We’re very confident this (Complexland) will be a big part of our brand, going forward… We think it’s poised to become like a digital Madison Square Garden,” said Complex chief revenue officer Edgar Hernandez in a Digiday interview.