Confessions of a Sneaker Head: The Go-To Guy for Coveted Kicks
Peter Jansson, cofounder of Sneakersnstuff.
Peter, you have become quite the authority in the sneaker game over the past fifteen years. Tell me a bit about your history and why you started in the first place.
I’m a high school dropout with a huge passion for sneakers. My partner, Erik, and I both started out working in a traditional sporting goods store in Stockholm. Both of us were pretty serious sneaker nerds. In our spare time, we went back and forth to New York to hunt down products that you couldn’t get hold of in Europe. Word got around and people started paying us money to find that particular sneaker. That was good because we didn’t have any money at all.
After about a decade in the business, we decided to start an online store where people could shop hard to find sneakers—a place where you could find sneakers that were originally made for sports but used for the streets. We found a small space that was located on a back street in the at-the-time up-and-coming Södermalm area of Stockholm. The place had big windows, so we figured why not do a proper sneaker shop? After all, retail we knew, but online business we didn’t know anything about. Sneaker boutiques as we know them today didn’t exist. In fact the word sneakers wasn’t even used in Sweden at the time. We opened the brick-and-mortar store in March 1999 and the online store in April 1999. Fast-forward 15 years and we’re still located on the same street, Åsögatan, and we’re moving units like never before. New York is one of our biggest markets. Plus 2013 was our best year so far, with more than 10 million U.S. dollars in sales.
You have done numerous design collaborations over the years, many connected to your Swedish and Scandinavian heritage. What are your top three?
Yes, we’ve been asked to collaborate with lots of different brands over the years. Looking back, we’ve worked on successful projects with such labels as Adidas, Asics, Converse, Puma, New Balance, and Reebok, to name a few. Really hard to just pick out three favorites. You’ll probably get a different answer if you ask me in a few months…Converse All-Star Hi Lovikka, Puma Clyde in reindeer leather, and from last year’s one-collaboration-a-month project with Reebok, I’d say the Reebok Insta Pump Fury Popsicle is my favorite.\
Can you tell me about your upcoming collaborations?
I can tell you that we’re working on several projects with Adidas, Reebok, Karhu, Puma, Le Coq Sportif, and Ewing Athletics, but I’m afraid I can’t show you anything just yet. Still waiting for final sample rounds.
With brands like Giuseppe Zanotti, Givenchy, and the up-and-comer Buscemi producing “luxury” sneakers at a premium price, which are becoming increasingly popular these days, do you feel that traditional sneaker brands are eyeing that category with the usage of more premium materials?
Oh yes, absolutely. All major sneaker brands are trying to get a piece of the high fashion bit. Price is not an issue for certain customers. The most expensive sneaker we’ve sold was the crocodile-skin Air Force 1 from Nike, made in Italy with a 2,000 euro price tag.
What is the best sneaker ever made?
Here’s where all hard-core sneaker nerds expect me to say something like Air Support from Nike, which was only produced for one season back in 1987, but I say Converse All-Star Hi. It’s probably the most copied sneaker of all time and the original Chuck Taylor is still going strong.
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Photos: Courtesy of Sneakersnstuff