Cover (Photo: KICKS CREW)

The global e-commerce platform for sneakers and apparel announced this Series A funding today, and CEO Johnny Mak and COO Ross Yip spoke to Tatler about what they plan to do next

KICKS CREW is one of the newer platforms among the ranks of sneaker resellers such as StockX, GOAT and eBay.

Rather than only providing niche drops and limited edition sneakers, they work exclusively with brands such as Nike and Converse to offer an authentic and diverse range of products, with over 400,000 styles available for shoppers to choose from.

See more: Sotheby’s Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 Sale Raised a Record US$25.3 Million for Charity

Founded in 2008 by CEO Johnny Mak, and joined by COO Ross Yip in 2021, the pair shared a vision to make sneakers accessible to all and create the best customer experience.

Today, KICKS CREW announced that they secured US$6 million in Series A funding led by Gobi Partners, Pacific Century Group, and Complex China. Mak and Yip spoke to Tatler about what this funding means for them, and what a digital future for KICKS CREW will look like:

What is KICKS CREW providing that is unique in the sneaker market?

Johnny Mak (JM): First and foremost, we are the only sneaker platform exclusively working directly with retailers of the brands we carry. 

Most of our competitors target the resell market, and aim to sell niche or high-end drops, whereas we address the gap that exists in the market by being a go-to shopping destination for the everyday shopper. While we do carry a wide range of exclusive and luxury products, we also have brands and products that cater to a wide range of customers. 

Our goal is to democratise the sneaker market, one pair at a time, and our company has since become one of the fastest-growing online retail platforms globally, with a loyal community of over one million followers on social media. 

What will the Series A funding mean for KICKS CREW, and what you will be able to do now? 

Ross Yip (RY): This Series A funding is just the beginning for KICKS CREW. We plan to invest heavily in our technology to improve the KICKS CREW digital platform, along with introducing innovative ways to engage our customers and improve the product discovery process—for example, we’ll be the first amongst our peers to host livestreaming events with influencers. 
 
People are what makes the crew, and we plan to use this funding to bring in top talent across the organization, specifically in product and technology teams. We’re also growing our headquarters in LA and expanding our creative, brand and communications teams.

What does this mean for the Asian market?

RY: This round of funding means the most for our US business. The US is our domestic market and largest market globally for athletic footwear and apparel, so our main goal is to gain market share this year.

We’ve historically had facilities in Hong Kong, but the LA headquarters is still in its beginning stages, so this announcement will help us grow our presence and teams there. We have concrete plans to break into the Southeast Asia market with localisation of language and currency, where a region of 11 countries with a diverse audience awaits.

Our biggest strength is our wide product offering across verticals of footwear, apparel that can certainly cater to preferences of the Asia market, and the scaling of our technology will allow us to keep expanding the catalogue and enhance the customer experience further, one that is suited and personalised to the Asian customer base.

And what are your thoughts on crypto?

JM: In our opinion, blockchain and digital currencies are disruptive— across industries but it’s particularly interesting in fashion.

We’ve seen so much innovation over the past year with brands delving into the Metaverse, distributing NFTs and allowing payment via cryptocurrency, and there are many ways to incorporate this into our business. 

For us specifically, we see blockchain technology as a solution to verifying the authenticity of our products, and we are also looking into accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Web3 is something that’s very exciting to us as a brand—and we’re always quick to act.

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