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NY’s Greats: the Warby Parker of men’s sneakers?

New York’s Greats is on course to become the Warby Parker of mens footwear after breaking $100,000 in sales in June.

You don’t need to be a seasoned ecommerce analyst to appreciate that an ecommerce startup that launched less than a year ago is going places when it hits sales like this so soon. It’s also on course for a run rate of $1.6 million by the end of the year.

Social media savvy ecommerce

You might, though, need to consult your inner ecommerce analyst to understand its appeal.

Conceived by footwear industry veterans Ryan Babenzien and Jon Buscemi, the company launched in August 2013 with the aim of delivering high quality men’s sneakers (it’s the first footwear company to be “Born in Brooklyn,” according to its website). With 20 years of experience in the industry behind them, Babenzien and Buscemi figured they could not only do that, but do it with a bargain price tag, too.

If your inner ecommerce analyst is wondering how much the startup has spent on marketing so far, the answer is surprising: zilch. Its co-founders have been social media-savvy from the outset, actively posting “man-centric” imagery on Instagram (only 20 percent of which consist of shoes) and attracting a 32,000-strong army of followers.

Of those who buy sneakers from Greats, 40 percent have shared their purchase decision on a social network. And it’s not just Everyday Joes who are doing the sharing: basketball megastar Kevin Durant is amongst them, wearing a very snazzy pair.

A brand rather than a business?

Babenzien and Buscemi are clear that Greats is more of a brand than a business but, even so, it’s doing pretty hot business when it comes to sales. That $100,000 record last month came from a single design, “The Bab” sneaker. Sneaker sales are up 250 percent since launch and revenue 134 percent. Costs (and prices) are kept attractively low thanks to the fact that Greats doesn’t involve any other retailers. They buy materials wholesale and design all the sneakers in-house, whereupon they’re cannily marketed for online sale through social channels.

The startup runs a 100 square-foot pop-up in Brooklyn at the weekend (although it plans to find a more permanent retail space shortly) and it’s planning to make 10 models available by the first quarter of 2015.

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