The sneaker resale market has grown exponentially especially over the past decade. What was once considered a quirky niche market, has now ballooned in to a billion dollar businesses and it looks like it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The sneakerhead market isn’t one defined group either. Today, parents are in on the action of getting their hands on coveted sneakers just as much as the teens. We already know that if there’s a highly-anticipated drop coming up, it’s not as easy as just having a credit card handy. The resale market is a lucrative one for those must-have limited editions. Many sneaker aficionados know one of the best go-to’s in the authentic resale market is StockX. While you are more likely to pay more that suggested retail price, this particular reseller has implemented more check points to ensure we get the real deal.
Chad Bantay is one of the first Canada-based authenticators to join StockX — a program where the company includes a bespoke training program as part of the authentication process. He has collected sneakers since he was a teen and at one point had more than 200 pairs in his collection. As an authenticator for StockX, he works with the products and brands he is most passionate about — using a robust database of proprietary information to effectively assess the legitimacy of the goods StockX resells.
We chat with Chad as he gives us a behind-the-scenes of the authentication process and learn what he looks for in products and why. We also find out how to spot a fake.
First off, when did you develop your passion for sneakers and we’re sure many would want to know how you land this sweet job?
CB: My passion for sneakers started early. I grew up loving sports and basketball and that naturally evolved into a love for sneakers. I started actively getting involved in the sneaker community in 2011 and my interest has continued to grow since. Given my interest in the space, I’ve always sought out jobs that allowed me to work with sneakers. In 2014 I got a job at Nike in Toronto and spent five years working for the company. After dipping my toes into retail, I knew I wanted to expand my career while still staying in the sneaker industry.
When I heard StockX was opening an authentication centre in Canada, I jumped at the opportunity to join the company. Being a sneakerhead, I’ve been a fan of StockX for years so I was super excited at the chance to take the next step in my career while working with one of the leading brands in the industry. I will celebrate my one-year anniversary with the company this month.
Happy Anniversary! So, why be an authenticator?
At the end of the day, it’s my passion for sneakers that brought me into this work. I’ve grown up seeing hype sneakers on blogs, YouTube, and Instagram. It’s been amazing to handle these limited edition shoes that I may otherwise have never gotten the chance to see in person. Every sneakerhead appreciates the unique textures and details – even the smell – of shoes they’ve loved over the years.
Why do so many gravitate to StockX?
What’s cool about StockX is that it invented the idea of a ‘sneaker authenticator’. Before StockX came onto the scene there was no other job like this in the world. In addition to setting an incredibly high bar for authentication, StockX has set a benchmark for almost every aspect of the market. For example, people in the sneaker community are always referencing StockX pricing and sales data. You really can’t get that same level of information from any competitor.
On top of that, StockX is not just a place to buy and sell things like sneakers. It’s a hub for current culture and a community that is tapped into the latest news and trends – which has always stood out to me as someone who uses the platform.
What kind of skills are required for your job?
To be an authenticator, you need to have a real eye for detail. It’s paying attention to the smallest things about a product that helps ensure we remain the leader – so attention to detail is a must. Having a passion for sneakers and streetwear isn’t a requirement but it makes going to work every day that much more exciting.
How fast can you authenticate an item?
I can’t discuss that level of detail, but what I will say is that StockX authenticates thousands of products every day across our global network of authentication centres.
What happens when you spot a fake?
First, it doesn’t happen very often. StockX has a 99.95% accuracy rate, which is a number we are deeply proud of. If a sneaker does not meet our authentication standard, it could be for a number of reasons. We only accept deadstock products, so if a sneaker has been worn, that would be an issue. In addition to being a fake, other reasons products don’t meet our standard include a product is the wrong size, has a damaged box, is missing accessories or is a manufacturer defect. All of that said, if a fake does come across one of our desks, it’s verified through multiple people and we take immediate action.
What tips would you give our readers on how to spot a fake?
There are a few things that people can watch out for! Smell is a big one that people don’t often think about. Another big tip off could be the packaging – something like the tissue paper being the wrong material or colour. If accessories that typically come with the shoes are missing from the box, that is another indicator that something might be off.
What’s the most coveted pair of sneakers you’ve come across?
Personally, I’ve always wanted to see the Nike What the Dunk in person so I was really excited to have that come across my desk. A shoe that combines 31 different SB’s is so much more than just a shoe, it’s a piece of art! Seeing that in person was really cool.
What type of training do you receive from StockX and how do you keep up with the verification process?
StockX does a very rigorous multi-month training program for all authenticators. The program is backed by years of experience and data that have helped shape the training process. One of the things that makes StockX’s authentication process so strong is the years of historical data that the brand has, that no other company out there has access to. You’re really learning from the best of the best and by a team of people who have learned the tricks of the trade, not just over years, but across multiple continents.
In terms of keeping up, we’re constantly gathering data, and that is what helps us stay ahead of a game that is always changing. In some cases, that historic knowledge even allows us to predict things before they happen.
StockX has launched a number of new categories over the last few years, and before a new vertical is ever introduced, an authentication process is established and teams are trained. It’s critical that we uphold our rigorous standards across all of our verticals.
How has COVID-19 changed the way the company does things?
Safety has always been a top priority for us. So we’ve had to make some adjustments like social distancing in the warehouse and wearing masks, and we’ll continue to do this until it’s been deemed safe not to.
I was surprised to learn that StockX goes beyond sneakers! What else is StockX known for?
I would say, while many people know StockX as a platform for sneakers, it has grown to be so much more than that. StockX also carries streetwear, collectibles, electronics and trading cards, and we continue to expand. I started off authenticating sneakers and am now certified across all StockX’s current categories, so it’s a job that is ever-changing and constantly allows me to learn new things.
Lastly, do you remember your first pair of sneakers that you resold?
You never forget your first pair! In December of 2013 my brother and I lined up for hours to get our hands on the Air Jordan Taxi 12s. We were fortunate enough to both snag a pair. We’re actually the same shoe size so we decided to sell one pair and split the profits between us.