eBay Launches ‘Wear ‘Em Out Store’ Experience for Cali Sneakerheads
Have you ever seen a pair of sneakers so fresh you absolutely have to wear them right out of the store? Well, eBay had you covered in Los Angeles over Memorial Day weekend. eBay’s platform is generally lauded for its inventory of new and used sneakers, but it gave true LA-area sneakerheads the experience they needed.
Last Friday, eBay announced the Wear them Out Store, a pop-up store that rewards sneakerheads for actually wearing their new kicks out of the store. On Fairfax Avenue, the Wear them Out Store showcased “some of the most exclusive and coveted sneaker styles at up to 70% off the current market price,” according to an official press release sent to ESSENCE. Moreover, the Wear them Out Store offered exclusive prices on collectible kicks to those who literally carry their new purchases out of the store. To find?
“I think you have this subset of people that we like, who are our sellers who will sometimes be able to get exits and not sell them because sneakers are now alternative forms of investment, where the price appreciates and people craving to wear them will diminish the value,” Garry Thaniel, Managing Director of eBay Sneakers, told ESSENCE. “Even in the cases where it is, one, I would say there is a very strong second-hand market. Secondly, there is a natural joy in wearing one’s sneakers.
Not only is he known for pioneering “triplet flow” and bringing trap music to a global platform with Migos, but Offset is often praised for his vast and exclusive collection of sneakerheads. eBay handpicked the “Clout” rapper and trend setter to co-host the Wear ‘Em Out Store’s offering — “using his years of collecting sneakers to determine what collectible kicking enthusiasts would most want to destock,” according to the press release.
“Most of the time, my sneakers are at the heart of my cuts. You have to have the right kicks. Bad kicks can ruin the whole fit. Over the years, as my swag grew, so did my sneaker collection. I’ve expanded my taste in fashion and sneakers,” the ESSENCE cover star tells us. “I’m proud of my collection but I’m also proud of the fact that I actually wear my sneakers. When eBay asked for my help in arranging the wear them inventory, I felt it was authentic to how I feel about my collection – I wanted to help eBay get that message across in the culture.
ESSENCE had the opportunity to catch up with Garry Thaniel, Managing Director of Sneakers at eBay, on Zoom just before the day one launch in Los Angeles. Check out our conversation below about his personal relationship with sneakers, how eBay continues to champion sneaker culture, and why Offset was the perfect partner for this experiment.
ESSENCE: What was the inspiration behind launching Wear ‘Em Out Store?
Gary Thaniel: We love our sellers, but we want people to not only resell, but also wear their shoes. When you look at the sneaker community at a higher level, a lot of people said, “Hey, wear your shoes, wear your shoes, wear your shoes.” I am someone who has been collecting for almost 30 years now. I tell everyone I got my first job just to buy my first pair of sneakers. It’s a true story.
Today I unboxed my pair of 2015 Jordan One Chicagos to wear for this event. It’s just a joy that [you] have when you first wear them. Much of what we do here starts with community. It really pushes people to wear their sneakers, so what we wanted to do was be able to partner with vendors and get into a community like here in LA in Fairfax where we could really do something special and create a Whole time when people not only have a chance to get amazing shoes at great prices, but actually, we can do it and embrace what we’re trying to do, which is wear them.
ESSENCE: How would you define the sneaker culture of Los Angeles?
Thaniel: I think [with] New York, you definitely have your Uptowns. There’s kind of a feel to New York in terms of Uptowns and Jordans and things like that. West coast, I think everywhere I see everybody wearing Jordans and Yeezys and stuff like that. Their classic silhouettes are a little different here. You see more Cortez and coaches. Between the ribs, the staples are a bit different. The only thing I can say is what we see from our international partners, the heat is the heat. Everyone loves what’s going on with New Balance right now. Many people like what the Jordan brand offers. People love what Adidas and Yeezy offer, and what our partners at Puma offer.
ESSENCE: How do sneakers play a role in how you define your personal style?
Thaniel: Like I told you before, I landed my first job literally flipping burgers at McDonald’s so I could buy the Air Jordan 11s. I love all the creativity I’m seeing in the sneaker world right now. My favorite silhouettes are the ones that got me hooked. I’m a Jordan Ones fan, I’m a Jordan Elevens fan. I also like to mix it in with some of the newness and creativity that we see. I have quite a few Off-Whites in my collection. I have a lot of Yeezy in my collection. Recently, I’ve added a lot more New Balance to my collection, simply because I love everything they do.
My style, as I get older, is a bit more classic with sneakers. I tell everyone, in every outfit, I start with my feet up. Until I know what shoes I’m wearing, I won’t know what jeans, t-shirts, jackets, or sweaters I’m wearing. I start with the foot and progress upwards. What I try to do is wear something that fits me, but also something that I have some level of connection with. I feel like I grew up in a time when it was a product of Michael Jordan. You have just classic silhouettes that, at least for me, will never get old.
ESSENCE: What influenced eBay’s decision to partner with Offset for the conservation of the Wear them Out Store?
Thaniel: Offset was the perfect partner for us. First, as a creator of culture [and] style icon, Offset is both of those things. We knew that before, but even after hanging out with him today, it’s just that Offset really embraces our whole theme of wear them. Offset is someone who’s when we were talking to him, he’s like, “I found a pair of shoes on Deadstock today to wear for the first time,” but he’s like, “It was hard because a lot of my limited stuff that’s 101s, super exclusive or grill, I’ll wear it My Jordan 85’s, I’ll wear it.
For someone who not just in terms of culture, in terms of style, is a perfect fit, but in terms of embodying what we’re trying to do with wear them here, Offset was the perfect partner. He was able to organize a collection of 30 shoes. We will have to present 10 shoes a day for three days. I think one of the things we both noticed was that we didn’t make it easy for people to wear down. We have some really amazing sneakers in there. We have heat, some of the most requested sneakers currently on the market. We have not made it easy for people. They’re going to have to make those tough decisions to wear them out, because anything we have on our shelves, people would easily want to buy and store.
ESSENCE: As Managing Director of Sneakers at eBay, how has eBay continued and will continue to amplify sneaker culture through its partnerships and activations?
Thaniel: I think that’s what we try to do every day. In terms of amplifying street culture, we have a team of people who are part of the street culture and the sneaker culture, and really keep their finger on what’s going on and what people want to see. I think one of the reasons why wear them resonates, it’s because the culture pushed to wear his sneakers. When we put a concept behind it where we can do an activation like this, people get into it. What we want to do is really keep our finger on the pulse. We want to work with our community of sellers. We’re working with one of our top sellers, Soul Stage, on this activation today to really be able to show up in the right ways in the right communities. Right now, there aren’t many, if any, places in Fairfax that have a sneaker culture. Why don’t we get to the heart of sneaker culture, [and] do something where we have an activation that people can really connect with?
You can’t see it, but we have a line down the street on Fairfax. This brings me back to 34th Street Foot Locker [and] camp. Well, actually, camp on 33rd Street, because they used to have you through the back entrance for some of these builds. This brings me back to a really fun time. I think it speaks to people who still have this drive to say, “Hey, I believe in this. I believe in it long enough to stand in line. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing. When you walk outside, it’s sneaker culture, and you have to appreciate it.