Crystal Cox/Business Insider
- Insider is taking you behind the scenes of our best stories with our series “The Inside Story.”
- This week, events and content fellow Grace O’Connell-Joshua spoke to Insider retail reporter Shoshy Ciment who primarily covers athletic-wear, sneakers, and streetwear with a focus on companies like Nike, Adidas, and StockX.
- Ciment shares how she fell into covering the booming market, why diversity is the most important story in the sneaker world today, and her favorite kicks (Yeezy Suns!).
Grace O’Connell-Joshua: You focus on athleticwear, streetwear and sneakers. What a cool beat! How did you get into covering the industry?
Shoshy Ciment: I did not have a serious interest in sneaker culture before I started covering it. I started off covering retail generally as an Insider fellow in 2019 and on a whim, decided to head out to cover a pop-up shop for sneakers from an Adidas and Arizona Iced Tea collab that were going for 99 cents that summer.
When I got there, the scene was complete chaos. I ended up being one of the first people to break the story about how police had to shut down the pop-up after two teenagers were assaulted in massive crowds of angry people who were willing to get violent for some shoes. This was my first real-world exposure to the sneakerverse and I knew I wanted to continue to learn more about this culture and its enthusiasts. From there, I started interviewing people in the industry, on the retail and resale side, and continued to read and learn more.
O’Connell-Joshua: What do you think is driving the sneaker resale market? Why are consumers switching over to resale instead of buying directly?
Ciment: The sneaker resale market is successful for a variety of reasons that come down to basic economics. Certain sneakers will always be inherently valuable, such as those that feature collabs with celebrities like Travis Scott or Virgil Abloh, or those with especially unique designs or origin stories. This inherent value is intensified when the sneaker is released in a limited quantity. Demand for a new pair almost always outweighs the supply in a new drop, which makes them even more valuable on the resale market.
O’Connell-Joshua: What streetwear social media accounts do you follow and why?
Ciment: So much of the sneaker community exists on social media so it’s super important to stay on top of all the latest online trends and follow all the bot accounts and cook groups. I follow some more mainstream media accounts like Complex, Hypebeast, Footwear News, B/R Kicks, Sneaker News, etc for news, but also rely on some up-and-coming accounts like Saint (@saint on Twitter). Some of my favorite sneaker people to follow include Edgar Alvarez from InputMag, NPD sports analyst Matt Powell, and Michael Sykes, II from FTW, who has an AWESOME sneaker newsletter called The Kicks You Wear, which I read every week.
O’Connell-Joshua: Do you describe yourself as a “sneakerhead”? If yes, how many pairs do you have and which are your favorite?
Ciment: While I am absolutely not a sneakerhead, I am able to appreciate and enjoy the culture as someone who covers it. I do find myself constantly looking down to see what people have on their feet though.
I don’t have a sneaker collection but my favorite pairs these days are the Yeezy Suns (those colors!) and the ‘Gym Red’ Jordan 1s. In general, I prefer classic silhouettes like Jordan 1s and the OG Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars (I wear these a lot).
O’Connell-Joshua: At the inauguration, I noticed that the husband of Kamala Harris’s niece (Meena Harris), Nikolas Ajagu, wore a pair of the Air Jordan 1 x Dior collaboration. Do you think sneakers have become increasingly political over the past few years, especially after Colin Kaepernick’s Nike campaign?
Ciment: Sneakers are absolutely more than just a fashion statement. The sneaker industry has never existed in a silo and is intrinsically bound to an array of cultural influences. For example, as most people know, sneaker culture has its roots in Black culture. This fact is a major focal point behind many diversity efforts among big footwear companies today.
To me, it’s not surprising to see sneakers permeate life outside of fashion. For some people, sneakers might just be an income or a way to avoid being barefoot. For others, sneakers are a way to express one’s values and individuality.
O’Connell-Joshua: What is a day in the life of a streetwear/sneaker reporter like?
Ciment: I start my day on Twitter, generally to see what drop people are complaining about missing out on. I connect with some sources, answer emails, read the latest news, and connect with my editors about possible story ideas.
O’Connell-Joshua: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Ciment: I love getting to meet young entrepreneurs who hustle like mad to get to where they are. There are a lot of rags to riches stories in the sneaker world and it is always inspiring to get to hear them firsthand.
O’Connell-Joshua: What’s the biggest story on your beat today?
The lack of diversity inside top footwear companies today is one of the biggest stories on my beat. Many people have been having this conversation regarding the lack of representation of minorities in the industry for years. Finally, the big brands are taking action and working on a change, which is great news. Now, it’s a matter of following up on these commitments and understanding how change is happening, if at all. Who are the leaders behind this movement? What is the root of the problem? These are the questions I try to understand in my reporting in this area.
Beyond resale, side-hustling, and the latest Yeezys, I see the topic of diversity as one of the most important stories in the footwear industry today.
Read some of Shoshy’s top stories here:
- SNEAKER SELLING SIDE HUSTLE: Your guide to making thousands reselling hyped pairs like Air Jordans and Yeezys
- Inside SNKRS: How a group of Nike employees went ‘unconventional’ to build a chart-topping app that would transform sneaker culture
- A college dropout runs a multi-million dollar sneaker cook group, AMNotify, with thousands of members across the world. Here’s how he launched one of the first exclusive sneaker forums from a hospital bed in 2017.
- Adidas is tackling inclusion with a council to fight racism and a new hire for global HR. Here are 15 change-makers at Adidas paving the way for diversity within the company.