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May 29, 2024

What if the new sneakerheads are Indian?

What’s fuelling India’s sneaker craze? Why have sneakers become the ultimate status symbol for young Indians? Over the last decade, sneaker culture has exploded worldwide. What once symbolised athletic prowess has now evolved into a cultural phenomenon, with the global market expected to hit $120 billion by 2026. This booming market trend is also making its mark in India.

Sneakers have seamlessly become a part of our daily lives, becoming essential to our lifestyle and a symbol of style due to their versatility as both semi-formal and casual wear. They’ve evolved significantly from basic canvas rubber shoes to innovative, eco-friendly designs available in various styles. High-tech versions are now tailored for different activities and preferences, showcasing just how far sneakers have come.


For Young Indians, Sneakers Are the New Birkin Bags

For a young Indian today, there is probably one thing that is as much the definition of luxury as a Hermès Birkin handbag: sneakers.

In 2016, the sneaker craze in India kicked off when popular brands like Nike and Adidas made their general releases available nationwide. However, most people were not keen on spending an extravagant amount on shoes, leading to an underground sneakerhead culture that relied on word-of-mouth to snag exclusive, high-end sneakers.


Step Ahead: Visionaries and Platforms Shaping India’s Sneaker Culture 

The sneaker culture in India can be credited to Anand Ahuja, founder of VegNonVeg, India’s first multi-brand sneaker boutique (launched in 2016 in New Delhi). 

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Un post condiviso da VegNonVeg (@vegnonveg)

Ahuja intended to transform the Indian sneaker culture by bringing the most unique shoes from top brands under one roof. He has also been credited with boosting streetwear culture in India by offering streetwear brands in the same place.

Platforms like FYKI (Find Your Kicks India) and Superkicks have also contributed to the growth of the sneaker culture in India.

This growth has accelerated in the past five years due to the significant role of social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook in building a community, allowing sneakerheads to connect and share their collections and experiences.


The Boom of India’s Mainstreet Marketplace from YouTube Sensation to Streetwear Empire

In 2017, Vedant Lamba embarked on an exciting YouTube journey by creating a channel called ‘Mainstreet TV.’ Little did he know that this channel would become one of India’s biggest sneaker and streetwear resale fashion destinations.


Combining stunning art gallery aesthetics with the country’s flourishing sneaker culture, ‘Mainstreet TV’ became a sensation, leading to the creation of ‘Mainstreet Marketplace.’ 

According to their website, Mainstreet Marketplace aims to redefine “the sneaker culture in India by making exclusive kicks from Yeezy, Jordan, Anti Social Social Club, Adidas, Nike, and more accessible to the niche yet prevalent market of sneakerheads.”

His company has recently unveiled an offline store in New Delhi, a sprawling 1600-square-foot space holding the title of Asia’s largest sneaker resale store.


From Instagram to India’s Sneaker Throne: The Journey of Crepdog Crew

The transformation of Crepdog Crew from an Instagram reseller page to a digital and physical haven for sneaker enthusiasts in India is nothing short of extraordinary. In an article published in India Today, a spokesperson for the company recalled, “Who can forget the Yeezy sneakers launched by Adidas? Every sneakerhead wanted those in their wardrobe. This search for a pair of the coveted Yeezys is what led to the foundation of Crepdog Crew.”

Today, India’s premier sneaker reselling platform boasts a physical store in Delhi. However, Crepdog Crew’s inception traces back to 2019 on Instagram when friends Anchit Kapil, Bharat Mehrotra, and Shaurya Kumar, driven by their pursuit of Yeezys, discovered Instagram resellers profiting from shoe resales.

From initially selling 2-3 pairs a week to delivering 350-400 pairs of sneakers to customers across 500 cities in India, Crepdog Crew has cultivated a vast community of sneakerheads. As sneakers have become “the new currency of luxury,” as defined by The Indian Express, Crepdog Crew has transformed into an online marketplace, offering the most coveted sneakers from around the world alongside India’s finest designer labels – spanning from sweatshirts and T-shirts to jewellery and handmade rugs.

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Un post condiviso da CREPDOG CREW | CDC (@crepdogcrew)

In 2022, Crepdog Crew expanded offline, launching their inaugural CDC Experience in Delhi – an immersive store featuring a colossal sneaker wall (claimed to be the largest in India), top-tier Indian streetwear designers, a basketball court, and even a café.


The Hottest Imported Kicks Fuelling Indian Sneakerheads

The sneaker community in India is undergoing a profound shift, driven by passionate young sneakerheads who are shaping its course. For them, sneakers are not just sources of joy but also valuable investments.

The spectrum of designs cherished by Indian sneaker consumers is vast, ranging from timeless classics like Adidas Sambas and white Nike Air Force 1s to luxurious options such as Balenciaga speed trainers and Dolce&Gabbana sneakers.

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A post shared by adidas Women (@adidaswomen)

For semi-formal occasions, popular picks include Onitsuka Tiger Serrano sneakers and Prada Downtown leather sneakers adorned with crystals. And let’s not forget the devoted followings for Yeezy slides and Yeezy 350s in India: each style has its own dedicated fanbase.


Where is the Home for Streetwear and Sneaker Culture in India? Here are the Hottest Labels in the Scene

As evident today, the sneaker culture in India has expanded significantly, marked by the emergence of platforms and stores like VegNonVeg, Mainstreet Market, and Crepdog Crew. This growth has also fostered the development of streetwear culture in the country. 

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Un post condiviso da Dhruv Kapoor (@dhruvkapoor)

Moreover, a wave of new and hyped Indian brands is making its mark on the scene. In the contemporary landscape, several locally established streetwear labels such as Jaywalking, Bluorng (pronounced “Blue-Orange”), DeadBear, and Dhruv Kapoor are witnessing a surge in popularity.

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Un post condiviso da BLUORNG® (@bluorng)

Additionally, several homegrown sneaker brands are gaining traction, such as Comet, Rare Rabbit, and Gully Labs, which are captivating the hearts of sneaker enthusiasts and collectors in India. And their appeal is spreading beyond national borders. 

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Un post condiviso da Comet (@thecometuniverse)



Rakshit Kumar Jain
Fashion Business student, Mumbai