While fashion retailers are struggling to get men into their brick-and-mortar locations, a problem that can be blamed on the convenience of online shopping and easy-to-use apps, sneaker stores are thriving more than ever. No, it’s not a Black Friday sale, or because these stores have some major celebrity appearance, it’s because sneaker stores have redefined the in-store shopping experience, creating a community with cool activations for like-minded sneaker shoppers to connect and hang out, driving sales in the process. American Eagle wanted in on the action, and with that, a brilliant partnership began with Urban Necessities, one of the most successful resale sneaker businesses, founded by Jaysse Lopez.
Starting today, customers of the American Eagle SoHo store in New York City will get to experience Urban Necessities’ pop-up shop of cool exclusive kicks from top sneaker brands, play a Supreme-branded pinball machine, and even have a chance to win $300-$500 worth of gear from an arcade claw machine. Sounds dope, right? As if that wasn’t enough to have tourists and New York locals show up in droves, Nike MAG Back to the Future sneakers will be available to purchase for a mere $50,000. Yes, you can finally cop one of the 89 pairs of Marty McFly automated lacing sneakers that were raffled off on eBay back in 2016 to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
To the average guy, the price tag on these exclusive sneakers can seem outrageous, but Lopez already had a bid from one hopeful through his Instagram account for $42,000, before the pop-up shop even opened today. The last time a pair of the Nike MAG sneakers went on sale, it sold for $33,000 in just 30 minutes, so really the increase in cost seems fair for the demand. Lopez explained to us the increasing value of lustworthy sneakers and why it’s a worthwhile purchase.
“The beauty of sneakers is that they’re recession proof,” says Lopez. “You’re always going to have people who can justify the expense. There’s items in this room you don’t see everyday.”
So, what if you’re not interested in scoring Marty McFly’s sneakers, or you’re not the typical sneakerhead that gets a thrill for chasing exclusive styles for a high price? Does the American Eagle customer even care that much about these expensive sneakers? Lopez decided to investigate himself by examining the clothes of his customers before he signed on for this partnership.
“I started noticing four out of ten people walking into my store were already wearing American Eagle product,” says Lopez. “It started making sense for me there.” While the American Eagle customer might only be looking to shop the brand’s affordable jeans, Lopez is confident any guy can appreciate the pop-up shop’s presence. “I’m not saying everyone is going to come in and want to buy a 500 dollar shoe, but more often then not, someone is going to come in here and say ‘Ah man, that was a cool experience I definitely want to check them out.’ ”
There’s an endless array of sneakers on the market for every guy to find a pair that fits style and needs. The comfort of a sneaker goes unmatched by any other footwear style, and similar to when a man buys a pair of jeans that’s comfortable with an attractive look, Lopez says the right sneaker “changes everything” with the ability to boost your confidence.
While it’s important to chose a pair of sneakers that peaks your interest, if you’re confused on which type of sneaker will have the most timeless appeal, Lopez suggests Adidas PW Human Race NMDs, as well as Air Jordan 1 and 11 sneakers.
“American Eagle is an American brand and Urban Necessities is an American dream—they just blend well together, you know,” says Lopez the day before the big opening. “We’re very focused on changing what the experience and expectations of what retail should be. I think when we open the store tomorrow it’s a big defining moment in retail—we’re changing it!”
Senior Style and Gear Editor
Adam is the Senior Style and Gear Editor, overseeing grooming, gear, and fashion content on menshealth.com.