Sneakers have never been more in demand — collaborations, drops and pieces gone within seconds are the defining aspects of the hype culture. We talk to 22-year-old Vedant Lamba of Mainstreet Marketplace, a destination for streetwear, on this growing market and how he remains unafflicted despite being in the heart of it.
Intrigued by the growing sneaker culture, Vedant Lamba started Mainstreet TV, a YouTube channel talking about new sneaker launches and their availability. This organically mushroomed into Mainstreet Marketplace with a small shop in Pune. “We gained a little audience on YouTube and from there we started our sneaker sale business. To set up shop we struck a deal with the landlord that was based on our sneaker sale commissions instead of a deposit,” shares Vedant who started this garage start-up at the age of 17.
The age that Vedant started his venture is perhaps the general demographic of his audience. In India, the GenZ are the biggest cognoscente both in terms of interest and investment of the hype culture. It wasn’t just access to limited-edition sneakers that intrigued Vedant into the space. “I wasn’t raised in the culture of spending money on fashion or was a consumer of sneakers. Since I was a child I always wanted to start a business and make an impact. Once, I discovered sneaker culture it immediately made a connect.” With Mainstreet TV he realised that there was a lack of awareness about sneakers and he was looking to fill that gap. While the Pune store gave him a little push, he eventually relocated to Mumbai to ensure his idea gets the big break it deserves.
Mainstreet Marketplace is basically a space to connect people interested in the hype culture and looking to buy/sell sneakers with an authenticated and trustworthy channel. “We also have a lot of VIP customers who swear by us as they are familiar with our sellers and know we take care of people. We aren’t only focused on profits, it’s about creating an experience, trust and relationships,” shares Vedant who lists Bollywood sneakerhead Harshvardhan Kapoor amongst his clients. More recently, Travis Scott collaborations had the platform blowing up with even Ranbir Kapoor getting a pair. What sets The Mainstreet Marketplace apart from other reseller sites in India is that they guarantee authenticity and are transparent about refunds.
Vedant also acknowledges the presence of small, GenZ sellers on Instagram who are facilitating the availability of limited edition sneakers in India. “It’s the most phenomenal thing in the world seeing kids become financially savvy by partaking in this model. Sneakers are a great potential to make a large part of the nation financially minded. And a big part of my goal is to facilitate that change, aid and progress, that you know that right now what we do is very consumer-oriented and building but at the backend, all we’re doing is supporting sellers, we’re helping them with data, we’re helping them move faster, better, higher payments, helping them sell for ourselves, you know, we’re doing as much as we can, and right now actually we are also building the technology to facilitate the same experience that we sellers have, with building the backend,” he adds. With a marketplace app in progress, Vedant hopes to connect and ensure that sneaker resale in India becomes more streamlined.
While sneaker resales are still in the nascent stage in India, he feels that one thing to keep in mind is to flip fast and flip frequently as opposed to holding on and waiting for a greater return on investment. Equating it to the stock market Vedant says, “Ask anyone who’s worked with finance or the stock market and they’ll say that focus on return on investment per unit.”
Talking about his own personal collection, Vedant quickly points out that while he did collect sneakers a few years back, the dynamic has now changed. “I felt the metric of hype sneakers held was taking up too much of my headspace so overnight I absconded from the world of hype. Now I only wear a single pair of sneakers everywhere and subscribe to a very minimalistic lifestyle,” he says. It may seem like a surprising admission by someone at the heart of the hype culture but he argues otherwise, “What I’m building is not an extension of myself it is an independent enterprise. I feel my personal choice should not affect the representation of that. Whether I wear sneakers worth 50k or 5 lakh, it should not be associated with the company’s catalogue. So when I wear something completely neutral I don’t give people a metric to correlate the two.
All Images: Courtesy Mainstreet Marketplace.