Hype culture took off abroad roughly a decade ago but has come into India only over the past couple of years. Things intensified during the pandemic as the number of sneaker resellers grew in India. Either way, it demonstrates that Indians are thinking of shoes, especially sneakers, as an investment. Thus follows a rising class of entrepreneurs who are setting up platforms to make sustainable livelihoods out of this most unregulated of businesses.
Childhood ambitions seldom pave the way when we venture out to the real world. Mumbai-based Vedant Lamba wanted to start his business when he was about 12.
About ten years later, he made his dream a priority with no backup plan.
Vedant Lamba, 22, decided to monetize the sneaker culture that continued to strengthen its roots in the country and founded The Mainstreet Marketplace, one of the biggest sneaker reselling platforms.
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Vedant began his journey when he started his YouTube channel,’ Mainstreet TV,’ where he discussed new sneaker launches, their availability, etc. His connection to the web, primarily through his religious vlogging (700 days in a row at one point), also makes people in his network feel intensely connected to him.
The appeal of Mainstreet Marketplace comes from the resale value of highly covetable and hype-worthy brands such as Supreme, Yeezy, Off-White, etc. The value of gently used shoes from these globally coveted brands increases over time and holds in any currency, even if they are secondhand or gently used.
This is where The Mainstreet Marketplace differs from other sneaker and hyped clothing stores, as much of the product is gently used or is referred to as deadstock. While there are different readings and levels of deadstock (VNDS = Very Near Dead Stock, Passes as Deadstock, Dead Stock with tags, etc.), it implies a product that is brand new or near new but no longer in production or available at regular retail spaces. As a result, especially in the case of limited-edition sneaker drops, these products are rare, one of a kind, and sometimes available only in one size.
Since starting Mainstreet Marketplace and TV, Lamba and his collaborators have developed deep networks in the sneakerhead community. Firstly, by making “cool” content (video, promos, etc.) online. Secondly, through building a consignment supply and demand chain, people from all over India are willing to sell, buy, or directly trade expensive products.
Lamba has been known to jokingly liken himself to a stock market day trader with a 1000+ client list, who literally connects “the seller in Delhi to a buyer in Pune” over a pair of shoes. All through a combination of Instagram (where products are featured) and WhatsApp, where people can personally enquire about the product and complete the purchase.
The Mainstreet Marketplace has an exclusive clientele, including Bollywood celebrities and influential businessmen but it also caters to students. They also offer apparel from Essentials, Drewhouse, Supreme, Palm Angles, Off White, and the like.