Otis x Jeff Staple Launch Investment Shares of the Nike SB Dunks Collection

Sneaker Culture comes with a lot of moving parts. It’s not just about what’s trending and what’s dropping at the moment. The sneaker industry is a booming business and there are a lot of ways to cash in. When you mix history and actual factual epic moments in, these are the things that make sneaker culture what it is. There are many players involved, brands behind the madness and stories to be told. We’ve watched buying sneakers turn into a “thing”, sneaker releases become like holidays and feelings described as being “like Jordans on Saturdays”. When did that happen? Sneaker culture is evident in all aspects of our lives and it is important to keep up with its evolution. Jeff and Otis have teamed up to take sneaker culture to another level. 

Jeff Staple, the founder and creative director of Staple Design, plays an integral role in sneaker culture, and so does Otis. They both are pioneers in areas of sneaker culture that have pushed the needle up on the culture-o-meter. The two have paired up to launch shares of the Nike SB Dunks Collection. 

Wait. Shares? 

Yep. Shares!

The Nike SB Dunks Collection is now available for purchase via the Otis App. The collection includes 5 famed Nike SB lows that have impacted sneaker history in some way shape or form. The NYC Pigeon, Heineken Dunks, What the Dunk, Raygun Dunks, and the first all suede Bison dunks are all available at $25 per share and there are 1,000 shares available for purchase. Jeff is a major Sneakerhead and he handpicked the pairs for this collection. 

Aside from the actual sneakers, the Otis x fnnch collection is also up for grabs. Each share costs $40 and there are 1,000 shares up for grabs. This collection is a series of custom-commissioned artworks by San Francisco’s street artist fnnch. His works include Three Cans of LaCroix, Greatest Hits, and Sneakers. Oddly enough, the Sneakers paintings are his personal rendition of the Nike SB Dunks from the collection. 

Sneakers have become more than just footwear, they are an investment. Whether it’s a purchase of shares on the Otis app or getting a job in the sneaker industry, there’s more to sneaker culture than meets the eye. For more information on how you can turn your passion for sneakers into cash, visit Sneaker Essentials dot com

Footwear Buyer, Sneakers

What does a Footwear Buyer do?

Footwear Buyers are responsible for the sales forecasting and buying for sneakers for men, women, or kid’s categories. Moreover, they have the responsibility of generating a seasonal merchandise plan and assortment strategy to maximize opportunities. Their aim consists of growing the business for a company, boutique, or e-commerce brand. Footwear buyers analyze sales on a daily/weekly basis, propose action plans, if necessary. They also identify growth opportunities whether in their assortment or visual merchandising.

How much does a Footwear Buyer make?

According to Glassdoor, Footwear Social Media Managers make a national average of $59,978 or $28.84 an hour in 2021. Assistant footwear buyers make around $51,876 annually, with senior-level footwear buyers making $95,000 a year.

What impact does this career have towards the sneaker industry?

Footwear Buyers create compelling and timely sneaker and footwear assortments that meet or exceed the sales volume and profits for their category. In general, this role is responsible for the success of the footwear category by using their trend and business intuition to direct the assortment of footwear to meet the sneaker consumer.

What is the job outlook for a Footwear Buyer?

By 2022, there is a projected volume growth of 4.0% in the footwear market. During the 2018-2028 decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth in the fashion design industry (including Footwear Buyers) to grow one percent. (www.bls.gov).

Related Careers:

Business Development Manager | Merchandising Coordinator | Visual Merchandiser | Store Manager | Sneaker Order Fulfillment Associate | Customer Service Representative

Student Success: Victoria Marie Hoppe

Victoria is a Miami-based street culture connoisseur who enrolled in Sneaker Essentials because she wanted to pair her love of fashion with industry knowledge. Here, she discusses her student success and how the Sneaker Essentials online course has influenced her.

Gaining a better understanding of everything that goes into creating a single shoe makes you respect the process so much more from top to bottom.

ON CHOOSING SNEAKER ESSENTIALS —

I wanted to better myself as a person learning about something I love. I was really growing into my sense of style and interest in sneakers when I found this online course. It felt like a great opportunity to learn a little more and better myself. It was important to me to know that the program was backed by an accredited college. The backing of a school like the Fashion Institute of Technology made me feel like it would be thorough enough to be worth the time and money.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

I really loved learning about sneaker design and manufacturing. Gaining a better understanding of everything that goes into creating a single shoe makes you respect the process so much more from top to bottom. The partnership mattered to me also since Complex is a major cultural media outlet that’s very relevant to me and many others.

STUDENT SUCCESS IN REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

It’s given me more confidence to pursue paths within the industry that interest me, and a better understanding of how many different paths there are. It can be overwhelming to know how many talented people there are within this field. A course like this makes me feel like I can compete for that job or hold up in that interview. 

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

I did pick up a part-time job at Nike before the pandemic, and I think this gave me the confidence to do so. Prior to the course, I was afraid of how taking a retail job would look after college. I realized that there’s no fast track to get to where you want to be. I learned a lot during the time I was there and loved the environment. It was really special to me to get to be around something I enjoy daily. I also have another job as the Marketing Director for Miami’s Best Graffiti Guide, the top street art tour company in Wynwood, Miami’s Art District. It’s engaging and keeps me well connected to street art and culture.

To follow Victoria’s journey beyond Yellowbrick, follow her on Instagram @vickyhoppe.

Student Success: Ebony C. Watson

Ebony is a digital creator who wanted to combine her knowledge of art with her love of sneakers and footwear so, she enrolled in Yellowbrick’s Sneaker Essentials online course. Here, she discusses her student success.

The program prepared me to actually create a portfolio as I went along with each course. With this portfolio, I can submit to companies and seek employment within the sneaker industry.

ON CHOOSING SNEAKER ESSENTIALS —

The breakdown of the courses had a great deal of information which educated me every step of the way. It’s like a “Sneaker Bible” in encyclopedia form. Great source of information to prepare you for the sneaker game. 

I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology a while back, and I’m aware that the school is known for its phenomenal education curriculum in the fashion industry. The bonus is that I am deaf/hard of hearing, so the subtitles/closed caption solidified the deal of me taking the program. The accessibility feature program is amazing.

ON BEING A YELLOWBRICK STUDENT —

I really liked the course that specifically teaches you how to communicate with wholesale companies and keep a strong relationship with your sneaker design supplier.

STUDENT SUCCESS IN REAL-LIFE APPLICATION —

The program prepared me to actually create a portfolio as I went along with each course. With this portfolio, I can submit to companies and seek employment within the sneaker industry.

ON THE PAST & WHAT’S NEXT —

I’m in the technology field with Apple, but I want to break barriers and change the game in the footwear industry. The future is in a deaf/hard-of-hearing female like me.

To keep up with Ebony beyond Yellowbrick, follow her student success on Instagram @premiumgeek.

Made in America: Sneakers Manufactured Locally

Sneakers are a big business. The footwear industry is the second most important fashion segment within retail behind apparel, and sneakers accounted for 16% of footwear revenue in 2019. In 2020, the total global footwear market was valued at $70 billion, projected to increase to $102 billion by 2025. Led by Nike, companies based in the U.S. dominate the market. With American brands being such a pivotal player in footwear sales, it’s surprising that very few brands manufacture their products locally. 

Most of the household names in athletic sneakers outsource production to other countries to lower overhead costs. In 2019, China was the world’s leading footwear producer, with 13.5 billion pairs of shoes produced. India, Vietnam, and Indonesia joined China that year to account for more than 75% of footwear production worldwide. 

The rise of exported manufacturing has led to controversy. Brands can cut production costs by taking advantage of unregulated labor markets in other countries. This has led to allegations of unsafe working conditions and severely underpaid workers. Over the past few years, there’s been an effort to rebuild domestic manufacturing by brands old and new. Here are the best brands producing athletic sneakers made in America. 

THE INDEPENDENT BRANDS

Carson Footwear

what sneakers are made in the usa
Fade, $150.00-165.00 (Picture Courtesy of Carson Footwear)

Carson Footwear specializes in minimalist running shoes. Marketing executive Everett Carson launched the brand in Milwaukie, Oregon after years of frustration with wearing uncomfortable imported shoes. Since its launch in 2013, Carson Footwear has expanded into producing shoes for cross-fit and gym shoes. Although some of their models contain leather products, consumers can request vegan construction during the ordering process. 

 

Opie Way

James Court Lo, $428.00 (Picture courtesy of Opieway.com)

Opie Way releases canvas and leather casual sneakers for men and women. They embrace a slow fashion ethos, touting high-end luxury with a handcrafted approach. Founded by Justin and Amanda James in 2019, all shoes are constructed using materials sourced within the U.S. and produced in their North Carolina-based micro-factory. While Opie Way isn’t vegan, the brand has incorporated some sustainable practices, using vegetable-tanned leather instead of the chrome-tanning method standardly used on leather. 

 

San Antonio Shoemakers

Journey Mesh LT Lace Up Sneaker, $199.00 (Picture Courtesy of San Antonio Shoemakers)

Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden founded San Antonio Shoemakers in 1976. It’s one of the oldest brands producing and selling sneakers made in America. The brand produces a range of footwear — from athletic shoes to dress shoes to walking shoes — in their factory based in Del Rio, Texas. Pairs are personally handcrafted in-house and distributed in twelve countries. 

 

BIG BRANDS

Adidas

Speedfactory AM4, price varies (Picture courtesy of StockX)

Adidas is the second most popular sneaker company in the U.S. after Nike. The brand had worldwide footwear sales of $13.7 billion in 2020. With that type of production, Adidas attempted to establish a manufacturing factory in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2017. 

The plan was ambitious: set up speed factories in two of their biggest markets — U.S. and Europe — that relied on robot automation to quickly produce small batches of customized shoes. This would allow distribution to those critical markets at an expedited pace. 

By 2019, Adidas had announced both factories would close within a year, and the technology was relocated to factories in China and Vietnam. The Speedfactory AM4 was one of Adidas’ more successful releases during the time. Although Adidas is no longer producing the shoe, it is still available on secondary resale sites like Goat and StockX.

 

New Balance

Made U.S. 990v2, $174.99 (Picture Courtesy of New Balance)

As of 2021, New Balance is the only major sneaker brand maintaining a production presence in the U.S. The bulk of the New England company’s manufacturing happens overseas. Select sneakers in America across five factories as part of its Made Collection, which also has a factory presence in the U.K. 

Still, there have been some questions about how much of its production is happening in the U.S. The company designates a pair of New Balance shoes as “made in the U.S.A.” if it has a domestic value of 70% or more. In other words, New Balance can claim a shoe is “made in the U.S.A.” even if it is partially assembled overseas or made with imported materials. In 2018, New Balance expanded its Made Collection to include select styles from its subsidiary, P.F. Flyers. 

 

If you’d like to learn more about the sneaker manufacturing process and want to explore career paths in the industry, check out Yellowbrick’s Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide.

To learn how to produce sustainable athletic footwear and the future of footwear production, also check out the new Yellowbrick Footwear Business Foundations class.

Sneakerheads Can Stop Searching for the Perfect Shop Now

Sneaker culture has exploded over the past few years. At the height of sneaker hype, sneakerheads camped overnight outside storefronts and shut down entire street blocks. So when Jeff Staple released the now-legendary Nike SB “Pigeon” Dunks at Reed Space in 2005, the New York Police Department had to deploy a SWAT team to tame the crowd. 

Sneaker Riot

Since then, shops have shifted their focus to internet releases to prevent similar situations. Unfortunately, online drops present their own headaches because the most hyped sneakers sell out within seconds. Part of successfully curating a personal sneaker collection is knowing which stores have access to the most exclusive sneakers and sneaker trends. We’ve rounded up a list of stores that should be on your radar. 

Bodega (Boston, MA / Los Angeles, CA)

“Hidden in plain sight” is Bodega’s slogan. It fits since the sneaker boutique is tucked away behind a secret door behind fake shelves in a facade convenience store. Over the shop’s history, they’ve collaborated with Nike, Vans, New Balance, and Reebok to release their own versions of legendary silhouettes. Those relationships with the biggest brands have made Bodega a reliable spot for exclusive sneakers. 

Pro Tip: Bodega has a calendar on their site that tracks upcoming releases. Click on the icon with the sneaker you’re interested in, and it will list release details. If the item is a QuickStrike, it will be released via raffle.

 

Black Sheep (Charlotte, NC)

Nike SB Dunks have been making a comeback. As resale prices climb, original releases are getting more attention. However, only a few select shops get shipments, or buyers have to try their luck on the SNKRS app. Charlotte’s Black Sheep is one of the few skate shops that have been blessed with a Nike account and even released their own Dunk collaboration in 2019. However, like other small skate stores, they only limit exclusive releases to locals. However, the shop will make their collaborations available for nationwide purchase.

Pro Tip: Black Sheep provides release details on their Instagram. They tend to partner with Copdate for raffles if it’s an exclusive release.

 

Concepts (New York, NY + Boston, MA)

Concepts is a prominent name in sneakers and streetwear. With multiple storefronts in Boston and New York, the shop is regularly at the forefront of hyped releases and is a go-to for sneakerheads. In addition, they have released several collaborations with Nike SB (including the famed lobster series) and have an ongoing partnership with NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving.

Pro Tip: Keep a close eye on Concepts’ release page. They will list upcoming releases with details on how to purchase in-store and online.

Flight Club

Flight Club (New York, NY / Los Angeles, CA / Miami, FL)

Many sneakerheads have found their grails thanks to Flight Club. The store changed the sneaker game when it opened in 2005. With a consignment set up — meaning the store acts as a facilitator of sales between collectors — the shop provided buyers new access to rare sneakers. Many Flightclub’s sneakers are overpriced compared to their market value because resellers set the prices. 

Pro Tip: Flight Club is more of a marketplace for resellers, so there are no raffles or calendars to follow. You can simply check the website to see if the pair you want is in stock, select your size, and browse through price options.

 

KITH (New York, NY / Brooklyn, NY / Miami, FL / Los Angeles, CA)

KITH is one of the biggest streetwear brands in the industry. Its name is short for “kith and kin,” which is an old-fashioned way of saying “friends and family” — perhaps a nod to their ability to deliver the very best to their consumers. Through thoughtful collaborations with New Balance, Nike, and Lebron James, the store has built its reputation.

Pro Tip: KITH’s blog details upcoming releases with full details on how to purchase online and in-store.

 

Premier (Grand Rapids, MI)

Premier is another skate shop that gets a steady stock of sought-after sneakers. Like Black Sheep, the store is a go-to for Nike Dunk SB releases. They’ve teamed up with Nike a handful of times to release several Dunks bearing the Premier brand. In addition, they are one of the very few skate stores that will ship exclusives nationally — if you can manage to win the raffle. 

Pro Tip: Download Premier’s app from GooglePlay or App Store and follow them on Instagram. Premier usually posts exclusive releases 12 to 24 hours before raffles go live on their app. Raffles are only open for entries for a 10-minute window, so make sure Instagram notifications are on for Premier. 

undefeated

UNDEFEATED (Los Angeles, CA / San Francisco, CA / Phoenix, AZ / Las Vegas, NV)

NBA players have become marketing and media moguls, and with that, signature sneakers are often among the most hyped releases. The store, which opened in 2002, has credited its inspiration to merging sports, art, music, and street culture. UNDEFEATED is a primary source for the latest basketball kicks and a limited number of brands that have collaborated with the late Kobe Bryant. 

Pro Tip: Release options vary depending on the sneakers. Follow UNDEFEATED’s news page for details. Additionally, UNDEFEATED may release in-store at their locations, on their own site, and through SNKRS.

 

Union Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

Although Union has only recently taken the sneaker industry by storm, the store has been around for years. Union was initially opened by Mary Ann Fusco and James Jebbia (who would eventually found Supreme) in 1989 in New York. Unfortunately, that store was forced to close in 2009. Its Los Angeles counterpart opened in 1991, but collaborations with Jordan Brand in 2018, 2020, and 2021 have launched the store to new heights.

Pro Tip: You can purchase from Union on their site. However, if you reside in LA County, Union often reserves some stock for in-store purchases for locals. 


If you would like to learn more about sneaker marketing and distribution or would like to explore a career in sneaker retail, download Yellowbrick’s Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide.

How To Design Sneakers That Will Not Get You Sued

Customization and infringement can often seem like a thin line. Protecting anything from your custom sneaker to intellectual property has never been a straightforward endeavor, especially in the apparel industry. This is especially true when it comes to footwear. Some of these risks could put you out of business or cost you plenty if a design infringes on another brand’s intellectual property (IP).

Sneaker design infringement is costly. The owners of trademarks like Nike, FILA, Adidas, and many others who have filed intellectual property for their logos and designs have the most problem with counterfeited sneakers. Therefore, if you plan on producing sneakers in the future and expect to be taken seriously by retailers worldwide, you must avoid having any legal trouble involving alleged trademark infringement.

We’ve created this checklist that helps you understand whether your custom design sneaker can be seen as counterfeit. Checklist: How To Avoid Sneaker Design Infringement explores high-profile cases, why custom sneaker designs are being targeted by sneaker companies, and ways to assess the risk of your sneaker design.

Checklist: How To Avoid Sneaker Design Infringement

Who is this checklist for?

  • You’re interested in learning about sneaker law
  • You’re new to designing or sneaker customization and looking for that “one resource” that covers everything you need to know about infringement.
  • Want case studies on what designers have received a cease and desist and why.
  • Want a checklist to help assess your sneaker design’s risk

What’s included in this checklist:

  • An understanding between custom design and infringement
  • Why custom sneaker designers have been targeted by sneaker corporations
  • Learn about the first sale doctrine
  • Learn about material difference
  • Case studies that help you assess your sneaker design risk
  • Checklist that helps you assess your sneaker customs risk

If you’re looking to learn about sneaker law, from understanding intellectual property to how to make a sneaker deal, get started with Yellowbrick’s Streetwear Essentials Course featuring FIT and Complex. Or download our career guide to explore the many design careers in the sneaker industry.