Buyers Select:
Sunny Patel
SNS Sneakers n Stuff
Edition 102
Buyers Select is the series in which top buyers share their favorite proposals chosen from those of the brands of Pitti Immagine Uomo 102 and on Pitti Connect.

Founded on a love for the lifestyle surrounding sneaker culture, SNS has grown into a key destination for limited-edition footwear and apparel. The brand has transformed its curiosity for new things and a passion for heritage into exclusive releases, a unique global retail experience and collabs with brands such as Nike, Adidas, and New Balance.

We spoke to Buyer Sunny Patel about trends in the market, key brands, PITTI expectations, and more.
What do you think about the state of the current sneaker market? How have resellers affected your business?

Sneakers are an everyday shoe, so the regular Joes are moving into sneakers rather than leather/suede shoes as the main choice of footwear. Kids growing up today see sneakers as a fast and easy way to make money, so the consumers are getting younger and younger for expensive sneakers. By buying and selling, kids can afford more expensive sneakers than say 10 years ago. Resellers affect our business in a money way. We can’t release hype shoes in-store because of potential riots. We sell out of shoes sold online, which gives us a big consumer base through signups. And, we need to invest more in digital to prevent bots and hacks.
How has your clientele changed over the years? 

We see our clientele grow up with us, it's lovely to see that we can still feed the 40+ clientele as well as the 15+ clientele to be part of SNS.

Can you tell us about the most memorable/interesting thing you've seen during your time at SNS? 

SNS is moving in a new direction as a company and really doing what we are renowned for, which is our 4 pillars: SNS Community, SNS APP, SNS retail and SNS radio. But we also are a gateway for collaborations – no retailer can give that marketing aspect from a 360 angle. 
What is your all-time favourite sneaker silhouette and why?

AJ1 retro. Air Jordan sneakers are popular and why people continue to buy them is because they offer high-quality performance products. As high-quality shoes, they provide great comfort and support, unlike other products in the market. As such, people can wear them for a long time without having any discomfort.

What brand would you give the ‘moving the culture forward’ award to and why?

Aime Leon Dore, everything from start to finish really resonates as what a brand should be. The diversity and direction have been forever flawless. ALD has its own personality and doesn’t try to imitate or be something, it’s true to itself and that’s what every brand should strive for. 
Which trends resonated most with your customers last season?

Trends were very temperamental last season, as we couldn’t focus on trend forecasts due to the unknown. The brand selections are now on the plus side, so customers are seeing our assortment to be more focused and hero stories related. I think it’s imperative that we message to see if people would come out of their comfort zone and be less influenced by logo-driven items. 

In terms of your customer base, what has been the biggest surprise in recent years?

The rise of our in-house label SNS. We have come a long way and can see a shift in consumers buying more apparel to complement footwear. Also, the ability to have a curated assortment allows us to really connect to our consumers. We are not just another retailer, SNS is a destination that has been around for 23 years which is remarkable and reputable.
What, in your view, makes the PITTI experience special?

For me, PITTI is truly unique. There are many brands, and fashion devotees from all over the world to meet here. I love the atmosphere and I’m delighted as a buyer to attend these special events. It really does kick start the season. 

What’s next for SNS?

There are many things in the pipeline. The launch of our new website coming this month and our focus on the SNS brand: re-lifting our retail locations, and redefining our brand mix to a higher tier via apparel, whilst still being the pioneers of sneakers. Finding new ways of communicating with our community and bringing more excitement, as everything is very transactional. So, we are moving towards a live steam sign-up via our raffles to have a better engagement.

Great, thanks for your time!