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IN CONVERSATION WITH GEORGE SULLIVAN OF THE SOLE SUPPLIER
Written by Menswear Style in Interviews on the 28th April 2020 / In Conversation with George Sullivan of The Sole Supplier
The Sole Supplier was founded in 2013 with the aim to provide accurate trainer news and release information for the UK and European market. Their community of partners (brands and enthusiasts) provide them with new and exclusive content daily alongside a dedicated in-house team of sneaker experts. Curation and selection are key processes for The Sole Supplier. Each item on site is handpicked with insight into legacy, fashion trends, audience, and heritage considerations. Through working with over 50 different retailers online, they provide up to date release information on the most coveted footwear from across the continent. The release dates section to their website has become a pivotal destination for the sneaker and streetwear community, especially those looking to stay up to date with trends.
In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we sat down with George Sullivan, Founder of Sole Supplier. Our host Peter Brooker spoke to George about the history of the website and how they grew their community. They touch upon the effects of the Coronavirus on the overall sneaker market, with a shift from retail to online. George talks about what first ignited his love for trainers and how that developed into opening his own eCommerce business. He quickly realised that his knowledge of when the latest trainers would drop would benefit other enthusiasts and collectors, and he combined this with high quality content.
Please tell us about your company and how it started
“The Sole Supplier was launched to help people find the trainers they need, or the trainers they might not know they need yet. Our job is to help people find footwear from over a hundred retailers, and we do that through content, search and comparison tech. We have a website and app, and we gain around 3 million users a month. The casual footwear industry is massive right now and it is set to triple in size by 2025, but the Coronavirus has affected the fashion industry badly. There’s a high percentage of retail stores closing across the world, and there's a real knock on effect with people’s cash flows and it is very volatile. I’m very interested to see if that stat holds, and whether the market will actually triple by 2025 considering what’s going on.”
How have the brands you work with been affected?
“We work very close with Nike, Adidas, Footlocker, and Foot Asylum. They’ve had to close their stores which as meant that online is now the focus, so they’re still coming to us in the same way and we still need to support them and talk about the cool stuff that’s going on. Things are still quite busy at The Sole Supplier and I’ve heard some great stories about how some retailers are now up in profit since closing their stores, because they’ve moved all their business online and have saved money by doing that. I really think what is happening now is going to change the way that businesses, not just in this industry, but across the entire online/offline works forever. It’s going to change the world.”
More people are online but are they still buying?
“One of my videos on Instagram is titled ‘Don’t Buy Trainers’ and people who follow me were questioning what I was doing. I’m basically saying that you want to be careful with your money because I’m all about trying to help people on my personal social accounts. I’m saying that even though we’re showing and telling you about the latest and greatest trainers, you’ve got to be spending in line with your goals and what you can afford. I wouldn’t want to see anyone go broke because they spent too much on trainers or Supreme for example. It’s important to get the right balance. My mission right now is to help people understand how to be more successful in life and business.”
What first got you into this industry?
“When I was younger, I hadn’t had loads of nice trainers. I just had nothing out of the norm. I had been seeing things as I was growing up, really cool trainers, and I thought to myself that once I started earning my own money I would go out and by myself some nice trainers. It was a pair of Air Max 90s and that shoe is what got me into it. From then on, I got the bug. I just wanted the next pair of trainers. It’s a weird feeling that I can’t quite explain, but a lot of people get it. I had always wanted to start my own business from around 15 years old. I was getting inspiration from seeing my dad start and run businesses with some successful and some failing. I would read a lot of business books too. I had these ideas of setting up a business on the internet and when I got to 22 years old, I had saved some money and I was selling trainers on eBay too. I would buy a pair to rock and a pair to stock. I thought it was time to knuckle down and I realised there was a lot of info that people would need such as where to find the latest trainers and how to buy them online. Once the penny dropped, I thought up a business idea where I would give that information to other people. I naturally started the website from all what I had learned reselling trainers. I organically built it up in the evenings and weekends after my day job.”
This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 53 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with George Sullivan, Founder of thesolesupplier.co.uk You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.