IDYSM: Hey Matt, thanks so much for your time. So, I don’t think that I have ever spoken to a ‘Sneakerologist’ before. How did you get this title, and what does it mean exactly?
Matt: I gave the title to myself, as people were asking “what do you do?” It means I study the business and culture of sneakers
IDYSM: Sounds like an amazing job. Why did you start to study this area, and to what end do you continue to do it?
Matt: I was sociology major in college, so I’ve always been interested in consume behavior. As a retailer, you have to understand what make people buy.
IDYSM: On a day-to-day basis what does your work entail?
Matt: I write a lot. I do research for the brands, retailers, the stock market and investment banks. I blog for Forbes. I answer Twitter questions. I get my data weekly at 9 east Wednesday and am constantly referring to what the data says, challenging my assumptions
IDYSM: What are those assumptions and why do you want to challenge them?
Matt: I expect to see certain trends occurring. If they do not then I have to ask myself where did my assumptions go wrong.
IDYSM: Do you purely factor in the financial value of sneakers, or is it important to also factor in the emotional attachment product can have to people too?
Matt: Tough to measure the emotional attachment. Often the emotions make small releases seems more commercially significant when they are not
IDYSM: Could sneakers act as a barometer of an economy’s strength or weakness?
Matt: Interestingly when the economy is tough, sneakers sell better. I believe it is an inexpensive way to make yourself feel better.
IDYSM: True – not everyone can book a holiday to the Maldives or buy an Aston Martin, so do you see a value to sneakers being their ‘feel-good factor’?
Matt: Without question. Every time you put a new pair of shoes on, you feel better
IDYSM: This can go the other way though as we see some releases in the US create some pretty violent scenes over ‘must-have’ product. Does this demand for limited edition product cheapen or heighten the industry?
Matt: Those incidents are pretty rare. The brands and the retailers work very hard to make sure their customers are safe. Unrequited demand drives more sales down the line.
IDYSM: How has the industry changed since you’ve been involved? Surely trends, mass production and the Internet have changed the landscape?
Matt: Without question the internet has been the biggest game changer. Access to information and feedback has never been broader. The sneaker business is a premium business. I think the internet has helped there.
IDYSM: You’ve rubbed shoulders with Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and John Elway when you worked with MVP, how interesting was it to be around these names, who have such an influence?
Matt: They were all very smart business people and did not display a lot of ego. Very involved in the concept of the business. Their vision was not just to sell products but to teach kids how to play the game better. We worked really hard on this and I think achieved much of our goals.
I think they picked me to help because of my broad merchandising background, and my vision of for the internet.
IDYSM: How does their influence filter down to what we see at a street level?
Matt: Their vision was that they wanted the site to help kids play sports better. I think in a small way we were able to accomplish that.
IDYSM: Only a few years ago Vans and the Vulcanized movement seemed to be killing it – was low pricepoint x high volume sales a passing trend?
Matt: The Vans business has remained very good. Vans sales grew 25% in the US in 2013. They focused on iconic products and kept distribution very clean.
IDYSM: Since about 2011 we have seen more and more high-end, high price-point produce arrive. How does the more expensive, aspirational produce effect the industry overall?
Matt: The sneaker business is a premium business. Much of the growth we have seen in recent years has come from premium price points. I am very focused on watching the premium segment. There does not appear to be any slowdown in sight.
IDYSM: How relevant is the study of Sneakerology in the current age?
Matt: I would say more than ever. Brands and retailers can never have too much information
IDYSM: We seem to see retro, tech and premium as 3 hot areas right now, will any or all of these define the 2010’s as a key era in sneaker history?
Matt: Retro is just fashion. The tech advances that we have seen (and will see) are the real key. Consumers want technical products that can do more things than they ask. I call it the “smartphone effect”
IDYSM: Finally, this is the question I end all of my ‘In Their Shoes’ interviews with, what’s on your shoes right now, and were they a wise investment?
Matt: I don’t own any sneakers.
Follow Matt on Forbes here.