Where can you find a pink custom pair of Yeezy Boosts, the Nike Air Max 1/97 “Wotherspoon”, and a red minibus? Only Solexchange Sneaker Show Brooklyn 2018!
Trade shows have long been a staple in the sneaker culture since the early 2000s. These sneaker themed events are the way that sneakerheads can congregate under one roof. Attendees from different walks of life, but usually young men in their teenage to mid-twenties swarm these conventions, bringing hand trucks and giant boxes full of limited edition, exclusive, footwear products, apparel and accessories. Solexchange Sneaker Show, dubbed "the stock market of sneakers" has been around for a while and arguably ranks second in sneaker events on the East Coast, after the powerhouse contender, SneakerCon.
Last weekend, our KickBackz team headed out to Solexchange, which took place at the Brooklyn EXPO Center, a popular all-glass venue near the recently gentrified Williamsburgh area and flanked to the left by New York’s East River. It was the perfect weather to end March, with temperatures steadily maintaining at 58 degrees. For several blocks surrounding Solexchange, you could easily spot small groups of high school aged teens walking with expensive $500 sneakers and tailored in the lastest trendy tees and pants from highly coveted brands like Virgil Abloh’s Off-White and the iconic Supreme. You could tell without a doubt that these kids who were definitely making their way into Solexchange, and that was without seeing them carrying sneaker boxes in duffle bags.
Doors opened up at noon and like most sneaker events in the New York City area, a line snaked around the building as security and staff did their best to efficiently check in the mob that thronged down Noble Street. 1,500 attendees from the boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey and Pennyslvania stood impatiently on the bustling sidewalk on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
At $30 a pop for tickets, you could bring an unlimited amount of sneakers into the building to buy, sell or trade. The majority of these sellers found their way to the trade floor, a roped area reserved for people with just a few pairs they were looking to sell. For sellers and branded companies looking to take it up a notch, for a cool $200, you could purchase a 6 foot vendor table and two chairs to lay out and display your merchandise. For store owners and big time sellers, this is a worthwhile investment and keeps you from having to walk the floor of the venue aimlessly with a random sneaker in your hand looking for a potential buyer.
Walking down the crowd aisles, we were able to witness young millennials counting small stacks of hundred dollar bills, brown boxes arranged meticulously with the numbers “350” stamped onto the face. In these boxes contained the most popular sneaker of the second half of this decade, the Adidas Yeezy Boost by Kanye West.
Other than resellers, Solexchange provided other types of individuals the opportunity to peddle their goods. Sneaker customizing has long been a part of the sneaker culture and several different artists were in attendance, displaying their creative masterpieces, coated with the industry standard Angelus paint.
Several clothing brands also played a role at Solexchange. Streetwear apparel has long been important with footwear culture. After all, after you cash out on a pair of high tech footwear, you can’t just walk around in a plain white tee (or maybe you can.)
For a cool $4,000 you could even buy a Keymaster machine. That’s right, do you remember those classic arcade claw machines that were usually stuffed with teddy bears and plush toys? Well the hypebeast boys found a way to modernize (capitalize) off them by replacing those adorable stuffed unicorns with $800 sneakers. Yeah, pretty crazy right? They’ve actually become more commonplace at shopping malls, at least on the East Coast.
Among the attendees and vendors in attendance included Brandon of Trippy Pins; Omar of the Get Money Kicks Show, a Jersey-based sneaker tradeshow; Nas from KickBackz; and YM Bape, the infamous "fuck Supreme"-terrorizing goon.
And about that red minibus? The Plug Bus, was arguably the hit of the show. A creative group of guys from Pennyslyvania came up with an idea to retrofit a small bus and convert it into a mobile sneaker store. With the words, “Steals and Deals On Wheels” emblazoned on the sides, this was a novel concept of sneaker selling, especially at a time when most owners were doubling down on online convenience, these guys found a way to turn sneaker shopping into a “mobile” experience. Inside, acrylic plates similar to the ones found at traditional sneaker stores were integrated into the wall of the bus. A variety of different brightly colored sneakers, from limited edition Nike Air Foamposites to tech-forward LeBron’s adorned the walls. It was definitely our favorite part of the event.
By 3:30 PM, New Jersey native, Fatboy SSE, the special guest attendee for Solexchange made his appearance. Also scheduled to appear was Lil Skies, who had to abruptly cancel all his remaining tour dates and guest appearances due to unforeseen health concerns. Fatboy SSE, who most Generation Y’ers could easily recognize but definitely not their parents, is a social media celebrity. Known for his outlandish and comedic skits on Instagram, Fatboy SSE’s appearance at Solexchange was more than appropriate, given his rising profile courtesy of his 4.4 million followers. A large crowd followed Fatboy SSE from this onset of his arrival, which surely gave more work for his team of bodyguards attempting to create space between their client and the attendees. At one point, dozens of attendees tried to squeeze in after Fatboy sprinted into the red Plug Bus, only to be rebuffed by his security team.
Overall, Solexchange Brooklyn was a successful event. We’re sure the organizers got to walk away with a great show and that attendees hopefully found that grail they’ve been looking for. We look forward to attending more of their sneaker shows.