‘The demand for trainers will only get bigger’: Inside Crepe City, Europe’s biggest sneaker event
One guy spent £450 on a pair
On Saturday, Crepe City, Europe’s largest sneaker event returned to East London for its 16th event showcasing the best of the trainer world. Held in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, buyers and sellers from across the globe came to see which holy grails could be snapped up. While trainers have never exactly gone out of fashion, it’s no secret that their superiority in the shoe industry today is unmatched. For the first time, women’s trainers have outsold heels in the UK; the mark of a great celebrity now is that they have done a trainer collaboration with a sports brand and young people are buying more trainers than even before.
More than 7000 people turned up on Saturday in an attempt to find limited edition pairs, meet fellow sneaker heads, get their crepes cleaned, enjoy a Red Stripe and listen to a discussion hosted by Size? on “the influencer collaboration phenomenon”. We spoke to a variety of buyers and sellers, getting an insight into why they think the demand for trainers has sky rocketed and why events like Crepe city have become so popular. Naturally, we also quizzed interviewees on their all time fave trainer (plot twist; there was no mention of a Stan Smith).
Steph F. Morris (freelance crepe illustrator)
Have you been to Crepe City before?
SFM: Yep, this is my second time here. I came in 2014 and am back again today. It’s a great place to meet people, network and to be honest, I do well here. I sell quite a bit.
How did you get into illustrating crepes?
SFW: I studied graphic design but i have always drawn. I was working at Size? and started drawing crepes then and it grew from there. I have now done pieces for brands like Reebok, Adidas Originals, High Snobiety.
SFW: Nike Cortez
Your 97s are pretty mad, where did you get them?
K: I actually got them online, on a group called Air Max 97 enthusiast.
We take it they’re your fave trainers?
K: Yep, I just love the silhouette I guess. I’m excited for 2017 because it’ll be the 20th anniversary of the Air Max 97 and so they’re going to bring out something special I hear. Nike just re released the original 97s but only in Italy and so I’m annoyed I missed that.
Have you been to crepe city before?
K: Yeah this is actually my third time here. I love it because it’s the biggest in the UK and you can get some great pairs.
Hey so how long have you guys been selling stock?
C: We began making these clothes ourselves a year or two ago and started our own online store. We’ve designed all our tees here with the slogan “constant pursuit of progress” as that’s basically true to us. We are all always in constant pursuit of doing more. But our main focus is on our UK hip-hop events; we’ll be hosting the official Crepe City after party at 93 Feet East, which is just across the road from here.
How did you all meet each other?
C: We were all friends first. A couple of us met at Essex uni and then the rest of us just from being from London. We’re all really creative and each have an individual skill set; we’ve got a photographer, two MC’s here and a guy coming from across seas to perform tonight.
Why do you think events like this are becoming so popular?
C: I think the time is right for UK culture in general. In music you see Skepta has opened the doors for so many grime MCs. Our talent has always been there, but I feel that UK Culture is now being recognised and celebrated. Our platform has seen people like Lil Simz get big and we hope to see more people get the recognition they deserve.
Hey, we spy you’re wearing Yeezys, how much do you normally spend on a trainer?
H: The most I’ve spent is £450 on a pair. I only own around three pairs though so I guess that evens it out.
Have you been to Crepe City before?
H: Yep, this is my third time. This is the only trainer event I go to though so I keep returning.
Where do you normally buy your trainers from?
J: I go to lots of events like this, and I get stuff from eBay. I got these for a fiver on eBay actually.
How do you clean your crepes?
J: (laughing) in the washing machine. I just put a pillow case over them and then put them in.
J: Clarks Wallabees. (laughs again) That’s not exactly a trainer is it?
All time favourite trainer?
C: Hmmmm, such a hard question. I would say it would have to be Vans. Yeh Vans classics.
How do you clean your trainers?
C: I try not to get them dirty in the first place. I don’t wear nice trainers if I know i’m going somewhere where they can get dirty. I let my Converse and Vans get dirty though.
How much do you tend to spend on a pair?
C: If I really like them, then i’ll spend £100.
Is this your first time here?
C: No I’ve been here six times now. We work in collaboration with Crepe City every year and we do really well here so it makes sense to keep coming back.
All time favourite crepe?
Has to be Vans. Old school classic Vans.
How much do you spend on a pair?
C: Roughly £70.
Hey, so what’s your stall all about?
C: We buy and sell trainers for people with smaller feet, like size 3s and 4s. It can be hard for people with smaller shoe sizes to find the pair they are looking for; sometimes, you go to the store for a particular pair and they say they don’t do it in your size and it can get really frustrating.
Where do you source your crepes?
C: Mostly online on sites like eBay. Also when there is a big release we’ll jump on that. We do sometimes buy from events like this or from people like between you and I.
C: Nike Air Force 1. They are basic, classy and go with everything. I’m really into fashion so it’s good to have something that can go with my styles.
M: Air Max 95 in pink satin. I always go for style over comfort in any trainer though.
How much do you spend on a pair?
M: Low 100s I’d say.
M: Use a water resistant spray and baby wipes. I try not to get them dirty in the first place by not wearing them in risky places.
How many times have you been here?
M: I come every year because I want to find steals.
Favourite trainer of all time?
M: Jordan 4s.
Average spend on a pair?
Which trainer are you selling that you know will do well?
J: Air Max 97s. Everyone likes them and they have a very loyal following/ customer. People will keep coming back to them. From past experience, I know they sell well.
Do you think the demand for trainers will slow down?
J: No way! It will never die down, if anything it’ll get bigger. I’m 26 and started getting into crepes in my teens. Now more and more teenagers are getting into them. More and more young people are starting to like trainers. Popularity for trainers is constantly growing.
J: Vans. They’re just authentic aren’t they? I’ve also got to say Nike TN’s.
How do you source your stock?
J: We source from all over; through the general public, online forums, word of mouth, events like this.