A streetwear resale store with a luxury twist is set to open at Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall this month.
Called Presentedby, the shop will stock rare, in-demand items and collectibles that have sold out in retail outlets around the world. Think Nike Air Mag trainers worth $190,000, Supreme-branded bikes and other products stemming from sought-after, one-off designer collaborations.
“The concept in itself isn’t new,” explains Presentedby's co-founder Nohman Ahmed. “But for many resellers, it’s all about volume. For us, it’s about the concept and leading the consumer by emotion. Presentedby is a refined model of the secondary and resale market, with a luxury spin to it.”
Ahmed, along with siblings Riz and Imran, are the founders of Undercover Brothers, the company they started in 2012, which has its headquarters in London and is best-known for its shoe care brand Crep Protect. In 2017, the brothers opened the first Presentedby store in the British capital, headed by their brother-in-law Ridwane Ettoubi.
“We didn’t want to be just another store that sells sneakers,” says Ettoubi. “We wanted to be a place of discovery and interaction. We want to tell the story of each product. We like to think of ourselves as a refined regeneration of the sneaker and streetwear community,” he adds.
The Dubai boutique is scheduled to open on December 9, and will be Presentedby's fourth location, after London, Paris and Doha. Dubai was a natural choice for the team's global expansion plans, says Ahmed.
“We’ve had massive support at our London store. It’s been recognised by A-listers, from footballer Neymar to rapper Coi Leray, who shopped there. We deliberately positioned ourselves at a location that is not in a heavy footfall street because we wanted to be a destination where people come to us. That brings us the right type of consumer,” he explains.
“So we’ve been very selective about the partners we work with. Since Dubai has become a shopping capital, we wanted to align ourselves with the glitz and glamour of the city. And Level Shoes was the obvious choice. Chalhoub Group, which owns Level Shoes, understood our concept from the start. And because it represents some of the top luxury brands, it was a match made in heaven.”
Presentedby will bring coveted items closer to collectors and fans in the region when it opens in Dubai, adds Ahmed. “In terms of sneaker drops, the Middle East is a little behind, not because the consumer is not there, but purely because of product allocation. We wanted to make sure that we furnished the market.
"The demand is very much there, the purchasing power is there. And no one has been able to bring the experience alongside product availability in one package. We can do that,” he says.
While trainer-makers eye resellers with a level of wariness, the resale market is booming. Cowen Equity Research, which once called trainers an “emerging alternative asset class”, estimates that the resale market could potentially reach $30 billion by 2030, according to Yahoo Finance.
Ahmed and Ettoubi believe concepts such as Presentedby will actually help shoemakers, as they cater to a core market and also ensure that the authenticity of product is kept in check.
“Some brands may frown upon the concept, but we know that this culture needs to be kept alive. The culture was niche a few years ago, but has grown significantly. So for us, Presentedby is all about education and being a bridge between the maker and the consumer,” says Ahmed. “If resellers don’t sell it with us, they will find another way to sell it.”
Ettoubi explains that Presentedby has a stringent process to authenticate all products sold in the store. “Replicas are getting better and better. And it’s impossible for many people now to tell the difference between authentic Nike and Adidas products and fake ones,” he points out.
“We have a sneaker authentication team based out of the UK. Every single item that is placed in our locations passes through our centre in the UK. We have a metric and many many steps before we put our mark on the shoe and it makes it to retail,” Ettoubi reveals. “We have four authenticators before the lead authenticator signs off the shoes. Anything of high value goes through three opinions. We don’t cut corners,” he adds.
The fact that theirs is a family-owned, privately held company, has allowed Undercover Brothers to grow faster, Ahmed says. Crep Protect, their first brand, sold 16 million units globally last year. It is now available in 52 countries and more than 30,000 stores. The shoe care brand is also licensed to produce collaborative products for the NBA, as well as apparel brand New Era. Last year, it won a global contract to manufacture Adidas Shoe Care.
The brothers also recently acquired a 99.5 per cent controlling share in Klekt, an online marketplace dedicated to the sale of trainers. “Shoe care has been around for many years, but it was an ignored segment of the market; we came and added colour to it by creating a whole new category,” says Ahmed. “We plan to do the same with Presentedby.”
The team is currently planning to expand and open additional stores in Mexico and Saudi Arabia. “People collect fine art and that’s socially acceptable, but some like to spend on sneakers. We were lucky to be part of the industry when that shift happened,” Ahmed says. “We count ourselves as innovators. About 80 per cent of our time is focused on what is the next best thing and how we better ourselves. We are not looking to slow down.”