The Edge

Buy $1,200 Sneakers on This App

Want to buy the world’s coolest shoes? Skip the mall and reach for the phone instead.

Buy $1,200 Sneakers on This App

Slang is an app for your smartphone that claims to provide a fraud-proof marketplace for sneaker freaks to buy and sell. Photo:

Sneaker lovers trade kicks like gamers trade playing cards. And now there’s a new mobile app, called Slang, to make those transactions even easier.

“Buying sneakers is a nightmare,” says Slang founder Stephan Varady. “They sell out in seconds, never even hitting retail shelves, and then they're only available at a huge markup on a fragmented collection of cracks and crevices on the web.”

Navigating this shady marketplace used to require insider knowledge—and a lot of luck. Aficionados would find a pair of vintage Jordans on the web, wire the owner several hundreds bucks via PayPal, and pray the sneakers would arrive.

Varady thinks Slang will fix this model.

Here’s how it works. A seller posts a description of his sneakers to the app, which simplifies this first step by auto-filling shoe specs and pre-framing each image (picture a sneaker-shaped outline to guide your hand while shooting photos). He can then share his listing across social media or send a link directly to prospective buyers.

Shop without the sketchy backdoor dealings historically prevalent in shoe collecting.

Once the sneakers sell, he’ll get a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping label (insured for the value of the shoes) via email. Next steps: print it out, tape it to the box, and toss the box in the mail. “We have an integrated escrow system that doesn’t allow funds to be released to the seller until the package delivery is confirmed,” says Varady. “Slang has a zero-percent-fraud success rate.”

Slang isn’t the only shoe-centric app on the market. The reigning heavyweight is Sneakers: The Complete App (which costs $6.99 in the Apple App Store). But we’ve found the later more useful as a digital reference for sneaker culture rather than a marketplace. Plus, Slang is free to download.

Varady won’t say how many people currently use Slang or how many pairs of sneakers have been sold, but he notes that downloads have been exploding ever since the launch in May.

Bottom line: next time you’re in the market for some truly unique kicks, skip the local mall and reach for your phone instead.

Filed To: Running Shoes, Design and Tech

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