William Coley is the CEO of Sole Service, a company that specializes in secondary market sneaker acquisition. Shoes that aren’t available at retail stores like Yeezys, Jordans and Nike Dunks are acquired through the company and are sold at a competitive price to consumers and fans of those sneakers.
Coley spoke with rolling out about Sole Service and what it means to be a sneakerhead in 2023.
What inspired you to get into the sneaker business?
I’ve been into sneakers since I was probably about like 12 or 13 years old. At first, I wanted to look good and have flashy sneakers just like a kid would. My mom told me if I wanted sneakers that are $200, then I had to come up with the money. I would cut grass, help people with their groceries, wash cars, and shovel snow, just to buy some nice sneakers. Then I started going to conventions like SneakerCon and my first one was in 2014. I saw people all over the convention center set up their booths selling their sneakers and I’m like, “Wow, people are actually making money from this.” I just started to slowly but surely start buying shoes here and there, and I would wear them for a little bit because at the time I’m still flipping just to buy myself some more stuff, so I bought some shoes to make a quick profit back. At first, it started as a way to upgrade my sneaker collection going from like $100 sneakers to the point where I was like 14 and I had $1,000 sneakers on my feet.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in sneaker culture?
The focus of attention on sneakers. Back in the day, stuff you wouldn’t necessarily find every day would be the most popular. Now it’s all about the Nike Dunks, the Travis Scotts, and the SBs. For example, everyone has the Panda Dunks. If you actually pay attention to what people are wearing, you will probably find at least 10 people wearing some variant of a Panda Dunk and it’s crazy. It’s not the same uniqueness that it was back when I was coming up.
What is your definition of a sneakerhead?
My definition of a true sneakerhead is someone that enjoys sneakers and enjoys the culture. I don’t think there are set requirements to be a real sneakerhead. … If you enjoy sneakers and you enjoy the culture, you’re a sneakerhead. People have to understand there are all types of different generations of sneakerheads too. There are some people that are older than me and they say, “Look at this little young kid or this young cat, he doesn’t know about sneakers.” And of course, people in my age group are going to look down on younger people like that, so it’s really just a domino effect. We all want to say that about the next generation but in reality, if you enjoy the culture, you’re a true sneakerhead.