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Mumbai is now home to stores by Crepdog Crew and SoleSearch

When neon green basketball shoes were delivered to style bloggers, Instagram influencers, and celebrities, they inspired intrigue. It soon became apparent that these were invites for the opening of Crepdog Crew’s first store in Mumbai.

CDC, as the New Delhi-based brand is popularly known, is one of India’s biggest online marketplaces for sneakers and streetwear. It started out in 2019 as an Instagram page, selling Yeezys and other sneakers which were unavailable in the Indian market and has come a long way since then — moving to a website and gradually expanding to the offline space with stores in the national capital and Mumbai.

The latest outlet in Bandra houses — what they claim — is the “largest sneaker wall in Asia with over 600 sneakers, including rare sneakers” like Abloh’s Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 (₹ 8 lakh) and the Air Jordan 1 Off-White Chicago (₹2 lakh). The store also has apparel from over 30 streetwear brands, and a boutique coffee shop Dope Coffee Roasters.l

Barely a couple of weeks after the CDC launch, Mumbai-based sneaker platform SoleSearch opened its first store in the city’s affluent suburb Khar, a few minutes’ drive away from CDC’s Bandra outlet. Conceptualised as a tunnel “to take people on a journey”, according to its marketing head Abhishek Baradaria, the brand, which is co-founded by actor Rannvijay Singha, has its own sneaker wall showcasing over a 100 sneakers at its store.

A snapshot of SoleSearch’s Mumbai store
| Photo Credit:
Prachi Damle

The sneaker craze

This is unsurprising, given the growth seen by the sneaker market in India: it is expected to generate ₹217 billion in 2023, with the global revenue pegged at $75 billion (₹6.2 trillion) for the year, according to market and consumer data aggregator Statista.

Sneakers are usually sold at two prices — retail, which is the price at which a sneaker is released by a brand like Nike, Adidas, or Puma, and resale, which is an increased price at which the sneakers are resold once they go out of stock at the retail level. The latter is decided by the global sneaker market based on factors such as supply and demand, the rarity of the sneaker, condition, price of the last sneaker sold, etc.

Resale prices can be multiple times the retail price. For instance, the Olive Green Air Jordan 1 Travis Scott was launched by Nike at ₹13,995 in late April, and is now listed at more than ₹1 lakh on the CDC website. In fact, the most expensive sneaker CDC has sold is the Air Yeezy 2 Red October for ₹12.5 lakh.

SoleSearch, however, follows a mechanism closer to an online auction. Trusted vendors and resellers put sneakers up on its website, and buyers can either buy them directly at an asking price or place a bid lower than that, with the brand taking anywhere between a 10-30% commission. This has seen sneakers like Off White x Air Jordan 1 UNC and Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 going at some of the highest prices the Indian sneaker market has seen. Brands like CDC and SoleSearch are providing a consolidated and reliable marketplace to the Indian sneakerhead, who was previously buying from scattered individual resellers.

Buyers at CDC

Buyers at CDC
| Photo Credit:
Nathan D’silva

All eyes on streetwear

While sneakers make up about 70% of CDC’s revenue, the remaining 30% comes from streetwear. “We were growing fast, but we couldn’t see the apparel segment grow at that fast a pace,” says Anchit Kapil, CEO of CDC. With sneakers, size and quality are standardised, so they can be easily traded online. Streetwear, however, needs an offline store.

As Anchit explains, it is because “people love to see it live, touch and feel it”. With the new store, CDC is now the biggest aggregator and seller of homegrown Indian streetwear, with over 50 Indian brands like Jaywalking, Toffle, and Kilogram to name a few.

SoleSearch is not lagging behind: some of the most hyped international streetwear brands like Drew House, Anti Social Social Club, and Fear of God are listed for auction on its website, along with homegrown streetwear that can be bought at the MRP.

CDC’s Kapil highlights how India is one of the biggest clothing manufacturers in the world. “Kids go to fashion schools, and come back wanting to create their own designs. All they needed was a platform.” CDC helps these brands scale up production, manage inventory, share customer feedback, and prepare ‘health reports’ for these brands outlining what is working for them. Through this, CDC has helped brands like Drippin’ Monkey, Natty Garb, and Odd Mood scale 100%. SoleSearch, on the other hand, has produced its own streetwear, a t-shirt with Mumbai-based brand Rising Among in 2022, as well as ‘Stash Socks’, a solo release in 2023 that has now sold out.

A snapshot of CDC’s Mumbai store

A snapshot of CDC’s Mumbai store
| Photo Credit:
Nathan D’silva

Kapil sees the sneaker and streetwear segments growing even further, with Statista predicting the Indian sneaker market to grow at 6.18% annually to $3.55 billion (₹292 billion) by 2028. To that end, CDC recently raised an undisclosed amount of funding in January, with Pharmeasy founders Dharmil Seth and Siddharth Shah, and fashion designers Masaba Gupta and Nikhil Mehra as its investors, with the goal of cracking that streetwear market and beyond. Also in the works is Crew Love, an online and in-store community that CDC is building among its collectors and customers.

At SoleSearch, after closing a pre-seed investment of an undisclosed amount, the team is working on a mobile application and a store in Hyderabad, both touted to launch over the next month. While the usual streetwear shopper is a 16-30-year-old, from tier 1 and 2 cities, and is balanced across genders, the brands see buyers across age, gender, and location.  The market is now valued at $185 billion (₹15.3 trillion) globally by PwC this year: No wonder Indian designers are now betting big on streetwear.


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