Offspring, one of the biggest sneaker retailers in the U.K., caught the attention of sneakerheads around the world during its release of the “Royal Blue” Ambush x Nike Dunk High. To dissuade winners of the raffle from reselling the sneaker for profit, Offspring employees destroyed the shoeboxes and sold the sneakers separately, even sharing an Instagram story showing flattened boxes and a caption reading “we don’t wear boxes!”
Videos of Offspring’s employees jumping on the shoeboxes — which were not usual orange Nike boxes, but limited edition iterations made for the Ambush collaboration — quickly garnered attention on Twitter and Instagram. “This is so disrespectful to Yoon Anh and Ambush,” read one Tweet in response to the incident. “Imagine working hard on a collaboration and then seeing a retailer smash up part of your product with your logo clearly displayed on it.” A follow-up Tweet also noted that the Offspring employees could’ve left the boxes in a stockroom, rather than completely destroying the packaging in front of paying customers. “[Employees] were on a power trip,” the Tweet concluded.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions — In some regard, Offspring’s destructive methodology did prevent some from flipping the sneakers for profit — but the overwhelming backlash online proves there are better, more efficient ways to do so. The store has now posted an official apology, explaining its well-meaning intentions and revealing that customers were alerted of the procedure to deter reselling.
Offspring also noted: “The majority of people were happy but some were concerned about the value of the product minus the box and they chose not to purchase.” The store then condemned threats made towards its employees on social media and in-store.
Boxing out resellers or sneakerheads? — As evident by Offspring’s actions, the rise of resellers has tainted the sneaker community: The once-enjoyable sneaker chase is now a marathon. Nowadays, the average consumer must face lottery-based draws, sneaker flippers, bots, and premium resale prices in order to land a pair of shoes — even the classic Air Force 1 isn’t safe.
By destroying the Ambush x Nike Dunk High boxes, Offspring achieved its goal of decreasing the resale value of the sneakers. Sneakers resell for much less without the box and other items that came with the shoes at purchase. Buying and selling groups even have a term — “OG all” — to note sneakers arrive with their original packaging and accessories intact. Popular reselling platforms, like StockX, also don’t allow its sneakers to be resold with a damaged or missing box.
Still, a shoebox can hold more value to sneakerheads than to a reselling platform. Packaging is part of a sneaker purchase, especially when it comes to a special design or collaboration — Nike SB has famously divided its different eras based on the design of its shoeboxes. Ambush and Yoon Anh could have put just as much effort into their box as they did the design of the shoe, and destroying it is a slap in the face to both the creators and collectors of the sneaker.
There’s a reason some sneaker enthusiasts wear crease protectors or wrap their shoes in plastic bags; it’s about taking care of something you love (and paid for). Although Offspring wrecked its boxes to protect such enthusiasts, the move really hurts them more than actual resellers.
Seeking alternatives — It’s hard to come up with one solution to the growing reseller problem. But some might argue that Offspring’s raffle winners aren’t the biggest problem; instead, it’s large-scale resellers using bots and backdoored pairs to make a profit.
Perhaps Offspring should take a hint from Kentucky boutique Oneness, which in 2018 required consumers to wear their “Not for Resale” Air Jordan 1s out of the store and leave behind its box. Proper bot protection would also deter resellers (without forcing the average customer to sacrifice some part of their purchase). As retailers try to ensure sneakers go to real enthusiasts, they need to question if what they’re doing will actually repel sneaker flippers — or if their actions are just hurting the sneakerheads they seek to protect.