What I Learned at Sneakercon; Steve Sims

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I’m going to tell you about me attempting to be cool to my son. See, a little while ago, it was my son’s birthday and I promised to take him to this thing called Sneaker Con. And it went over a year and then this year it was in Los Angeles. And luckily through my Rolodex, I actually found out that I knew one of the people that were one of the largest investors or owners or participants within it. And I spoke to him and I said, “Look, please help me be cool and take my 14-year-old son to Sneaker Con. And that lovely man, his name’s Dan, I’m not going to publicly announce who he is because I don’t want you guys reaching out to him, but this cool dude gave me four VIP tickets, VIP tickets meaning I could get in an hour before the actual show opened.

Now if anyone knows me, they know I wear motorcycle boots or I wear Vans. Very simple. But in this particular situation, I drove my son and his mate and my other son to keep me company down to Anaheim to Sneaker Con. And before we even got there, I noticed that the people that were turning up were turning up not just in a couple but in their 100s to actually go to this. And, you try watching it and scoping out the people, getting an idea of who’s who, the kind of demographic, the financials, all those things. As a marketing and branding guy, I tend to try and look at those things.

Now if anyone knows me, they know I wear motorcycle boots or I wear Vans. Very simple. Share on X

So we got in a side door and we’re in there milling around and there’s shoes in there. I think the cheapest shoe may have been, I don’t know, 250 bucks up to literally $1000s and $1000s for these limited edition Yeezys or Jordans or any other shoe that I either couldn’t pronounce or had never heard of before. And my son’s looking around, he’s looking at all this stuff and then they opened the doors, and it was like it was Black Friday. It was like it was the sale of the century. People came in thick and fast and heavy trying to snap up these bargains. And also they had what they were calling in trader corners, where people could bring their own shoes and just set up a temporary shop in this corner and either trade or sell the wear that they had.

Now at first, I looked at it as a circus. I looked at it that I was in an environment that I had no idea what was going nor should I have been there. But then something came to me while watching this and I was aware of the culture and the cult. Now if you have a culture, you have a culture, that not necessarily bad things to call somebody or cult. But this event was a cult, and everyone was in there with the same idea, the same passion, the same thought, the same belief and love for sneakers. And I realized that what I was witnessing was a cultural explosion.

Now sneakers have been growing years and years. You’ve got every major designer on the planet from Nike to Berluti, Gucci, Dior, anyone you can think of has a sneaker set. So it’s nothing new, but it was new for me to actually witness it. And it got me thinking, do I have a culture and am I building a cult within my brand, in my status, my trades, my businesses? And if not, how do I do it?

Do I have a culture and am I building a cult within my brand, in my status, my trades, my businesses? And if not, how do I do it? Share on X

You see a lot of people focus on building a brand. I hear a lot of the time when I actually take on consulting clients, “Hey, I want to focus on my brand and I want to build my brand up.” But what if you ignore the brand and you focus on the culture? You see the beautiful thing about the culture is that they drive it. They’re the ones that actually populate it. They’re the ones that invest the passion into this.

So when you’re looking at your business, you can look at being a brand. You can actually go back and listen to one of my other podcasts on how to be an icon. But if you want to take it further, see if you can build a culture, see if you can get a tribe. Those people that are there to support, encourage, define you. So I saw Sneaker Con as a 53-year-old, bald, British guy. It was quite amusing. My son, I thought would feel me to be cool. Of course, children never think you’re cool, that’s their job, but I got to witness a cultural phenom. So thank you very much, focus on your company, and see if maybe you need to be working on your cult status.