The global thirst for an up-charged pair of Yeezy’s or limited edition Jordan’s combined with a growth in a digital ecosystem is creating new opportunities, particularly in the sneaker resale market, for companies like Kicks Crew, a Los Angeles- and Hong Kong-based sneaker and apparel platform.
The company just raised a $6 million Series A round, led by Gobi Partners, Pacific Century Group and Complex China, to strengthen its foothold in the U.S. The funding comes at a time when the global sneaker resale market is thriving, with an expectation to reach $30 billion by 2030, according to a 2020 report by Cowen Equity Research.
Kicks Crew, which began as founder and CEO Johnny Mak’s side project in 2008, wants to carve out a niche for itself as a resell platform that can be counted on for product authenticity and accessibility for all.
The startup has the B2B2C sneaker marketplace model, which involves working directly with verified retailers of the brands they carry and guarantees product authenticity for consumers, chief operating officer and co-founder at Kicks Crew Ross Adrian Yip, who previously worked for the U.S. sneaker platform GOAT, told TechCrunch.
“Other competitors have a C2B2C business model and mainly work with individual sellers with unverified supply sources,” Yip told TechCrunch. “This is why there is a need for authentication for each product that passes through the platform.”
Kicks Crew also wants to address the gap in the current market that’s hyper-focused on limited editions and luxury offerings, despite growing demand and a large addressable market in the general athletic footwear and apparel segment.
“This means creating a platform that doesn’t alienate customers based on product offering or price point – anything they’re looking for is easily accessible here,” Yip said.
“In the online sneaker market, most platforms target the relatively niche high-end collectibles segments and put less emphasis on the much larger everyday sneaker consumer,” managing partner of Gobi Partners Chibo Tang said in a statement. “Kicks Crew identified this massive market opportunity and built a trusted brand servicing these customers.”
The startup has worked with large direct-to-consumer platforms like Amazon, eBay, Tmall.com and JD.com, Yip said, adding that it developed a reputation for its authentic, scalable and deep supply. The company says its platform enables creators, curators and consumers to come together in one inclusive community.
Today, the site offers a wide variety of products with over 400,000 styles, including popular brands like Nike, Adidas, Converse and more. Yip did not disclose how many users it has but said its gross merchandise value grew 15x in 2021 compared to 2020, and its traffic increased more than 5x since January 2021. To sustain its growth, Kicks Crew aims to increase its staff to about 150 employees this year.
Kicks Crew distributes its products globally, but its main markets are in the U.S. Canada, Australia and Asia. Japan, Korea and Taiwan, countries that Yip says have contributed significantly to the sneaker and athletic footwear culture, are the startup’s top Asian markets.
Kicks Crew also sees potential to expand its business in Southeast Asian countries that have a wide potential audience with no dominant player, as of yet, making the region ripe for the startup to disrupt the athletic footwear buying experience, according to Yip. The startup is considering countries like the Philippines, a nation known for its love of basketball, as well as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, all of which have a growing consumer base with brands, he added.
“Global adaptability and an ever-evolving mindset have always been our DNA,” Yip said in the statement. “With that in mind, we built a platform answering to a diverse community of shoppers seeking products of different functions and price points.”