Style
Where the runway meets the street

With the increasing hype over streetwear and sneaker culture combined with the prevalence of internet shopping bots, purchasing the latest releases at retail can often be a frustrating process. With many disappointed customers taking a regular “L” every Thursday and Saturday mornings, most turn to the secondary market to cop the latest must-haves. With multiple selling platforms such as eBay, Grailed, Depop, StockX, Reddit and countless specialist Facebook groups, it can be a daunting prospect trawling through thousands of irrelevant posts to actually track down a specific item.

Friends Jack Ryder and Sam Howarth met at school in Newcastle, England where they bonded over their shared interests in technology and fashion. Both becoming increasingly frustrated by the process of buying clothes and shoes online, they created BUMP – a marketplace solely dedicated to hyped streetwear.

The guys looked carefully at the aspects of all these online shopping platforms that weren’t catering for their specific needs, in particular the fact that “want to buy” requests are hard to find on many platforms. They wanted to create something as easy to use as Instagram but for shopping, bringing the strong community aspect of Facebook groups like ‘The Basement’ to a marketplace app dedicated solely to hyped streetwear and sneakers.

I met up with Jack and Sam to find out how these friends took their passion for streetwear and frustrations with online shopping and turned it into a rapidly growing business…

When did you first both take an interest in streetwear/sneaker culture?

Jack: What properly kicked off my streetwear obsession was the release of the Nike Air Foamposite One 1 NRG Galaxy in 2012. People were going mad for this shoe, I even remember hearing about someone who traded their car for a pair!

This was just as Instagram was blowing up too, which meant that streetwear was suddenly discoverable for me.

Sam: It was around the same time for me too, I remember hearing about Facebook groups where people were actively discussing the latest streetwear. These communities introduced me to brands like Supreme and Palace as well as the broader streetwear culture. Back then the groups were still in their infancy but there was still a strong sense of togetherness.

Do you personally purchase most of your clothes and shoes online via secondary market?

Jack: We’ve both been camped outside a store at 3am, almost developing hyperthermia just to have a chance to cop the latest release but even then, it’s not guaranteed. Trying to purchase something online is equally as difficult – it’s like playing the lottery.

Sam: To begin with, we ended up getting the majority of our stuff from Facebook Groups like The Basement as well as from marketplaces like eBay, Depop and Grailed.

What frustrations do you experience with any of those online platforms?

Sam: As streetwear has exploded globally over the past few years, Facebook groups, Instagram and subreddits started to become overcrowded making it harder to find, buy and sell. These platforms haven’t been built to support buying and selling so ultimately the shopping experience suffers.

At the same time, we’ve become increasingly annoyed with sifting through irrelevant items on eBay, Depop and even Grailed. We feel like these platforms lack a clear hype streetwear focus which affects the type of community that can develop.

Blake Rodich / Highsnobiety

Are these frustrations the inspiration behind you developing BUMP?

Sam: From our own negative experiences, we’ve always wanted a place dedicated to the buying/selling of streetwear that marries the sense of community from Facebook groups with the efficiency and features of a fully fledged marketplace.

This, coupled with our passion for creating and designing, meant that it was a no brainer to leave our jobs and work on building BUMP full-time.

What challenges did you face in developing and launching an app such as this?

Jack: Since teaching myself how to code five years ago, I’ve built a few iOS apps but nothing as big and ambitious as BUMP, so there was definitely a learning curve around the technology. When I first started writing code for BUMP it was just for fun and I don’t think I fully understood the scale of the task at hand. However, the great thing about programming is that as long as you understand the rules and basic principles you can work the rest out.

Once we had the idea for BUMP we had something that could be shouted about in Facebook groups to get those initial testers on within six months. During those initial six months we were still bouncing ideas and designs off a lot of people for feedback despite not having an actual app to test. Then I’d say we spent another year just iterating and evolving to eventually end up where we are now.

Getting those right people to test the app in the beginning was crucial — luckily the guys from Facebook groups like ‘Patta Talk’ and ‘Crepe City Community’ were willing to post about us which allowed us to attract targeted new users in a controlled way. This was perfect since it let us test new features and fix critical bugs before exposing the brand to a wider audience. The last thing you want to do is shout about your product if it doesn’t fully work — you’ve only got one shot at a first impression after all!

The biggest challenge in starting a marketplace is certainly attracting the first users as without them there are no products. We’re lucky that those early adopters really clicked with BUMP and we’ve been able to build a strong community off the back of that.

We are constantly updating the app as our users grow and we carefully monitor the habits and wishes of our community to ensure BUMP caters perfectly for our users.

How has BUMP been received within the streetwear/sneaker community?

Jack: From the outset, we’ve sought to create a streetwear focused marketplace that functions for the good of the community – making it fundamentally easier to find, buy and sell streetwear from specific brands.

As a result, we’ve made sure to work closely with those in it to build something that people actually want. The guys from ‘Crepe City’ and ‘The Basement’, as well as other influencers like Gully Guy Leo and ‘The Unknown Vlogs’, have been incredibly helpful with early stage feedback. This has shaped how BUMP looks and feels today so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a really positive reaction since it’s been built by, and for, the community.

What sets BUMP apart from other buy/sell marketplaces?

Sam: Unlike general fashion platforms, we’re completely focussed on hype streetwear from specific brands such as Supreme, Palace, Off White, BAPE, etc. This means that everyone on BUMP shares a passion for the same genre of fashion leading to a better shopping experience.

Because of this level of focus, users don’t have to scroll through hundreds of irrelevant items, you can easily filter by streetwear-specific brands and ultimately find items easier due to our smarter searches.

Jack: BUMP is about more than just the transactions – BUMP is full of like-minded members of the community so whenever you message someone you can be sure they are passionate about what’s going on in streetwear, which facilitates genuine and meaningful discussions.

How does BUMP’s “Want To Buy” function work?

Jack: When you tap the tag icon in the tab bar at the bottom you can create a listing. This listing can either be an item you’re selling or an item that you want to buy. Creating a wanted listing means that sellers can search through what people want and if someone wants what they’re selling they can send them a direct message.

To search through the wanted listings just tap the search button at the top of the home screen and select ‘wanted’ then you can see who wants what you’re selling.

We’re the only streetwear marketplace that involves both wanted and for sale listings. Sellers tell us it’s really useful around a drop day to be able to quickly see who wants their stuff – they can sell much faster since they don’t even need to create a listing!

Blake Rodich / Highsnobiety

How do you ensure authentic goods are being traded on the app?

Jack: To sell on BUMP you are required to authenticate via Facebook so when users are chatting to each other they can view a user’s Facebook profile to perform their own legit checks and ensure they’re dealing with a real person.

To protect against counterfeit products we have a team of expert moderators that patrol the BUMP feed and can instantly remove listings/users should they breach our terms. We also make it easy for anyone to report an item to us and we’re currently working on introducing a voting feature on listings so the community can help control the authenticity of items listed on BUMP.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt from running BUMP these past few months?

Sam: The biggest insight for me is the truly global nature of streetwear. Just the other day I sold a Gosha Rubchinskiy tee to a guy in Los Angeles on BUMP. It’s interesting to see people with a shared interest in fashion coming together from over twenty countries around the world to shop for streetwear on this app we created.

Jack: Personally, I’ve found the user behaviour around proxies extremely interesting. A proxy is when someone is paid to queue and purchase an item from an upcoming release on your behalf. We started to notice an increasing number of users listing queuing services leading up to a Thursday drop at Supreme. This lead us to create a Proxy category on BUMP so you can easily find a plug on the app.

The Proxy service you just mentioned sounds like an original feature for a shopping app, please may you explain how that works.

Sam: Our mission at BUMP is to help make streetwear easier to acquire so we created a dedicated product category for proxies on the app.

It’s not uncommon for people to brave the cold and camp out overnight at a particular drop to heighten their chances of purchasing the latest hyped item the following day so on BUMP we connect the people willing to stand on-line with the people who would rather pay for that service – the proxy.

There’s certainly a lot of trust involved in these preorder style transactions which speaks volumes about unity within the streetwear community. To help make the process even easier, on BUMP we encourage users to pay through PayPal Goods & Services so they are insured against any potential fraud plus we make it easy for you to see a user’s reviews so you can make an informed decision – in fact Proxies are the fastest growing category on BUMP right now.

Waiting for Friday like… 📷@thomthomcheong

A post shared by B U M P (@bump_official) on

How do you see the future of the secondary market in streetwear/sneakers?

Jack: It’s hard to see the popularity fading anytime soon. As streetwear continues to soar, the secondary market will become even more essential for people looking to cop hyped releases.

Increasingly, you aren’t just competing with other quick-fingered streetwear enthusiasts on a Thursday morning but with online shopping bots too. Technically, it’s almost impossible to stop them unless retailers take an “Adidas Confirmed” style approach. Again, this highlights the importance of having a peer-to-peer marketplace dedicated to streetwear since this helps make clothing and sneakers more accessible via the secondary market.

What would you say to someone who may accuse the likes of BUMP / The Basement / Grailed etc. as part of the issue that encourages reselling culture and therefore means hardly anyone who actually wants the gear can buy it for retail?

Jack: Good question… We need to accept that reselling is part of modern day streetwear culture. On the one hand, reselling allows streetwear enthusiasts to afford their passion and continuously refresh their wardrobe, permitting flexibility.

Paying $500 for a Supreme box logo doesn’t automatically mean you’ve lost your initial investment. More often than not, you can sell that item for at least the price you first paid, meaning you’re able to reinvest in another piece when you are ready for a change.

However, admittedly the downside to this is that more cash is needed to get into the game nowadays which shouldn’t be a limiting factor for true fans of a brand/design.

Now approaching 100K active users, what are your plans to expand and grow BUMP?

Jack: Since launching in August, the reaction from the community has been brilliant. We’ve had serious support from @supreme_leaks_news on Instagram and The Unknown Vlogs on YouTube, which has propelled us to almost 100K users from around the world in less than thirteen weeks. Today we just hit a landmark of one million messages sent between users on BUMP so the interaction is growing at a rapid rate.

We still keep the community at the centre of every decision we make. This means we try to reply to every Instagram DM, make sure we have a presence at events like Crepe City and in general just listen to what our users are telling us.

Going forward, we’ve just moved into a new office in London and recently secured investment from a European based VC. We’re now in a position where we can take BUMP to the next level by continuing to expand globally and begin to grow our team – if you’re interested in getting involved then drop me an email – jack@sobump.com.

Instagram: @bump_official

Here’s how Supreme’s boxing references have developed over the past 10 years.

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