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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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