When it began shipping its products in 2013, Brooklyn-based sneaker brand Greats was relatively unknown and produced just two of the models that they carry today. Greats offered three colorways of the Wilson, a canvas sneaker with contrasting laces, vulcanized sole, and leather toe cap, as well as the low-profile leather Royale in a handful of hues. The footwear’s selling points were its low price and high quality, and despite the limited selection, customers were quick to purchase the young retailer’s products. By 2015, the company had been covered by high-profile publications like GQ, Esquire, and Forbes, to name a few.
Now, after just four years, Greats offers a mind-bogglingly large selection. In addition to the original models, customers can purchase two high-top versions of the Royale as well as a slip-on sneaker, five models of running shoes, and even sandals. The production of that many new designs is impressive by any standards, but the fact Greats did not even exist five years ago makes its accomplishments almost unbelievable.
Greats belongs to a section of the footwear market whose popularity has grown in recent years. While the ultra-high-end offerings from famous designers and the lower-end ones from large-scale brands continue to attract a hefty consumer base, mid-priced sneakers like the ones by Greats have become more and more appealing for a bigger and bigger part of the population. It is very easy to see where these consumers are coming from. They are reluctant to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars per pair, but are simultaneously wary of purchasing shoes that will not last. They demand sneakers that will last for more than a few months but want that quality for the lowest price possible. Greats operates on a now-familiar business model that forgoes middlemen and retailers to deliver the product directly to customers at, essentially, wholesale prices.
The inexpensiveness is only half of the equation, though; Greats also offers its customers quality and the kinds of designs and releases expected of much more established companies. In addition to the wide selection and dedicated following, Greats also competes with older and bigger brands by releasing limited, packs, colorways, and collaborations just like the famous footwear names do. This year, Greats’s premium leather runner, the Pronto, got dressed up in tan, navy, and bordeaux suede as well as natural untanned goat leather. In honor of the Olympic Games, three metallic colorways of the Wooster slip-on were released to mirror the three tiers of medals at the Games. Perhaps the most aggressive move, though, was the creation of the Beast Mode Royale Chukka. The black nubuck, gold-accented mid-top is a collaboration with recently-retired NFL superstar Marshawn Lynch is a crowning achievement for the young brand that proves that it has enough influence to draw big names just as its larger competitors do.
Have you heard of Greats sneakers? Do you own a pair (or more)? Let’s hear about it here or on Twitter @BillChangNY