Detroit’s one-of-a-kind sneaker shop, Nojo Kicks, is kicking off the holiday shopping season by showcasing the best views in Detroit with the best shoes in the city. The campaign is called “Rare Views with Rare Kicks” and it is the first photography project by Akhil Sesh, Nojo’s new creative director. Sesh’s snapshots feature the store’s hottest sneaker styles in different unique locations around Detroit, including the tops of skyscrapers, at the foot of Shepherd Fairey’s new mural on the side of One Campus Martius, and in the tunnels at the Renaissance Center.
“I had a vision and now I’m living it,” said Sesh, who spent the month of October photographing in Seoul, South Korea, before returning to Detroit. “Art is something that I have been dedicated to my entire life.” Sesh was born and raised in metro Detroit and studied at Wayne State University. He believes Detroit is uniquely inspiring for creatives. “There’s a freedom [here] to explore all outlets of expression to their deepest potential.”
Expression was at the center of the “Rare Views with Rare Kicks” campaign. “We wanted to make sure the shoes [in the photos] reflected the views,” said Sesh. His favorite view was the Madison Rooftop. “It’s cool because of the versatility,” he remarked before quickly adding, “and you can almost see a Tigers’ game from there.”
When Nojo Kicks opened at 1220 Library St. in June 2014, it ushered downtown Detroit into the age of sneaker-mania, an industry whose market is so hot that it has repeatedly made headlines in Forbes and The Financial Times. But there’s more to sneakers than buying; the real power of the sneaker industry lies in sneaker reselling.
“Signs are showing that the sneaker resale market is here to stay and is only growing in size,” said Sesh, who points to data from Campless, a company that analyzes sneaker data from a myriad of sources. “In 2013 alone, consumers spent $63 million on Jordans 3 through 14,” adds Sesh. In other words, business is booming.
Unless you’re a true footwear aficionado (a group that lovingly refers to itself as “sneakerheads”), it’s difficult to grasp how nuanced the sneaker market is. First, there’s the money coming in from new sneakers; the National Shoe Retailers Association reports $31 billion in sneaker sales for 2014—and that’s just brick and mortar shops. Yet the real money to be made is, as Sesh says, in the resale market.
For instance, in 2009, Kanye West worked with Nike to create a line of shoes called Air Yeezy. As if the hype weren’t already gargantuan, only 3,000 pairs of the shoes were made, with each set of sneakers selling for $225. By the time Air Yeezy shoes were on the resale market, the price was already over $1,000—nearly four times what consumers initially paid. You don’t have to be a sneakerhead to understand dollar signs.
Still, one would almost need a PhD in sneaker studies to keep up with this market, which is becoming as lucrative as comic books and baseball cards. There are limited edition runs, price fluctuations, knock-offs to be avoided, and an ever-changing market. To help sneakerheads avoid headaches, Nojo Kicks does something unique: if you bring your sneakers into their shop, they’ll provide value estimates based on the current sneaker market. Think of it as an Antiques Roadshow for footwear.
In addition to examining consumers’ shoes, Nojo Kicks has an online consignment shop for customers looking to cash in on the sneaker boom.
If you’re looking for the must-have sneaker this holiday season, Sesh says to look look no further than the six-inch Timberland boots, which have a waterproof finish to protect you from Michigan’s notorious winters. “If you’re looking for a versatile sneaker that looks good for both casual and formal occasions, then it’s the Jordan 11, which is made of patent leather.”
To visit Nojo Kicks and find the perfect sneakers for the holiday season, head to 1220 Library St. in Detroit, MI. Or, you can visit them online at www.nojokicks.com.