Recently, the theme of the Soviet Union in culture and fashion has become increasingly popular: adults are slowly nostalgic, and young people are actively interested. In the wake of interest in Soviet aesthetics, the young Moscow businessman Yevgeny Raikov came up with the idea of reviving Soviet sneakers, the very ones in which the mods of 60-70 went. But is it interesting to someone today, in the 21st century, the design of fifty years ago? We asked Eugene to tell how he is trying to return sneakers of the Soviet era to modern fashion and what comes of it.
Evgeny Raikov is a marketer with experience in IT and clothing production. Over the past 5 years, as an employee, he introduced new products to the market, developed brands and services. Since the end of 2012, he has been the owner and manager of the Soviet Sneakers company (trademarks Two Balls and Soviet Sneakers), which is engaged in the production and sale of classic models and brands of sneakers from the USSR. Eugene is in an active search for investors interested in selling high-quality sports shoes designed by the Soviet model. He will be happy to meet representatives of the shoe market who are not indifferent to this project, and to devote them to the details of his business plan.
Eugene email address: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Facebook project page: facebook.com/sovietsneakers
Project website: www.twoballs.su
At the root of the rubber fashion
The progenitors of sneakers as a type of shoe appeared in the 30 of the XIX century thanks to the invention of rubber vulcanization technology. In 1892, nine small American rubber factories merged under the name US Rubber Company, and in 1916 launched the Keds brand, which sold rubber shoes with canvas tops. It was then that the sneakers got their usual name and look. The real boom in sneakers began a year later, in 1917, when the American Marcus Converse released the first sneakers for professional basketball players Converse All Star. Soon the legendary basketball player Chuck Taylor became the face of the brand, and he also proposed adding round protective rubber patches on the ankles. The improved model was named Chuck Taylor. In the 1950's, half of the US National Basketball Association players played in Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers. Since then, sneakers of various brands have been in phenomenal demand around the world, and their popularity has not ceased to grow.
In the 1950's, the popularity of sneakers was so great that they leaked even through the iron curtain into the Soviet Union. In 1957, the VI World Festival of Youth and Students was held in Moscow, which brought together young people from all ideologically free countries of the world. Of course, they arrived in sneakers, and Soviet youth immediately fell in love with these shoes, forgetting about Czechs and sandals. It was impossible to fight this passion, it could only be headed: the Soviet government installed GOST 9155 gym shoes on rubber and rubber-textile sports shoes and began to produce them in huge quantities. Sneakers were sold in any Sporttovary store and were worn not only by all schoolchildren and students, but also by the heroes replicated in popular culture - Electronics, Petrov and Vasechkin, Wolf from the animated film “Wait a minute!” And even the dog Sharik from “Three from Prostokvashino” ". Classic Soviet sneakers had a light or red sole with clear seams, and the upper is made of textile, usually blue or black. The laces were most often white; some models had round ankle patches. In general, these sneakers were very similar to their ancestor - Converse All Star.
A special luxury among Soviet consumers was considered “Two Balls” sneakers made in China, friendly to the Soviet Union. They cost about 4 rubles, and it was very difficult to get them. Two Balls sneakers differed in high quality and fashionable design: at least 5 models of different colors were on sale. The sole was green and thicker than that of the Soviet sneakers, the trimmings, the toe and the laces were white, and on the inside of the ankle area there was a rubber patch that depicted the 2 of the ball - football and basketball.
In the 60-70's there were no shoes in the Union, equal in popularity to sneakers. But in 1980, the German company Adidas provided Soviet athletes with a uniform for performing at the Moscow Olympics, and after that, Adidas sneakers became the new object of desire for youth. Soviet sneakers faded into the background, and then they were completely forgotten and completely supplanted by foreign competitors.
The second life of Soviet sneakers
In 2012, a young businessman, Yevgeny Raikov, founded the Soviet Sneakers company with the goal of reviving the classic Soviet-era sneakers — GOST sneakers and Two Balls. Evgeny has a considerable experience in marketing and production. Prior to Sovetsky Ked, he graduated from the Higher School of Economics, worked as a marketer in a large financial company, and participated in the launch of the John John Orchestra brand and clothing store. Explosion Moscow designer Igor Isaev, worked on the production and conceptual component of jeans for the Russian brand Denis Simachev. The motivation for creating your project was the realization of an empty niche: “The market lacks a product that is simple in production and perceives, is price-effective, yet has a cult status and already has its own audience,” Evgeny is sure. Soviet sneakers were the very product: Eugene wore GOST sneakers in childhood and was forever impressed by this shoe. “There are no Soviet sneakers, but loyalty to them remains, there is a product history, cult status,” says the entrepreneur. - On the Internet there are a lot of super popular nostalgic communities. Products made in the Soviet Union and not in Russia are perceived very warmly. Chocolate "Alenka", retro-branding of the Central Park of Culture and Rest named after Gorky in Moscow, the bar "Kamchatka" Arkady Novikov - this is all one Soviet aesthetic that is in high demand. Speaking specifically about sneakers, international experience shows that this model is more than viable. There are many companies, such as, for example, the Chinese Feiyue shoes and the American PF Flyers, which have developed local brands of retro sneakers to millions of copies and international sales in just a few years. From this we can conclude that in the world this format is in demand. "
Thinking over the reconstruction of Soviet sneakers, the entrepreneur decided to make the main emphasis on quality. Eugene is sure that, unlike the modern product of the mass-market segment, Soviet sneakers were and should be “unkillable” and super convenient. The production is supposed to be placed in Russia near St. Petersburg and in China in the province of Guangdong - at the very factory where the gym shoes were commissioned by order of the USSR. According to the business plan, authentic Soviet shoes should be made by injection and glue methods and sold at the retail price of 700-1200 rubles for GOST gym shoes and 2500-3000 rubles for Two Ball sneakers. At the time of the launch of the project, the rights to issue Soviet sneakers were free, but now the trademarks “Two Balls” and “Soviet Sneakers” are owned by Eugene.
After thinking about the idea, calculating the economics of the project and making several prototypes, Eugene met with a number of companies, including well-known sports goods chains. Despite the interest in reconstructing and selling Soviet sneakers, concrete steps on the part of investors were never achieved: in most cases, the parties could not agree on the conditions for the distribution of shares in the business being created. And then Eugene decided to try to raise money on his own, using the crowdfunding method. On the Internet, he found a thematic community, which described in detail fundraising using the popular American service Kickstarter. Statistics and analytics helped Eugene to believe in the success of his project on this site, but it turned out that it is very difficult for a Russian to use the services of an American site: if successful, he would have to give about 40% of the proceeds to intermediaries and still pay considerable American taxes. Then Eugene decided to use the Russian analogue of Kickstarter - Boomstarter.ru, on which he would lose "only" 16% of the money raised.
Crowdfunding (from the English. Crowd funding, public finance) is the collection of money on the Internet. It is often used to help victims of natural disasters, support from fans and fans, sponsoring political campaigns. In recent years, it has been increasingly used as a way to raise start-up capital for startups and small businesses. The largest online resource for collecting money is the American site kickstarter.com, where anyone can register and post a description of their project. The author of the project sets a certain period of time for which he wants to raise money. Everyone can transfer money to the project and become a “backer”, that is, a sponsor. If at the end of the declared time the required amount is not collected, donated money is returned to depositors. The most popular Russian crowdfunding services are boomstarter.ru and planeta.ru.
Battle for investment
Yevgeny had been preparing for the fundraising campaign at Boomstarter for about 3 months: he looked for similar successful and unsuccessful projects, considered conversion of publications in various publications, thought over PR activities, wrote press releases, worked on media planning, shot promotional videos, and thought out rewards. Having studied the specialized Internet sources, Eugene already knew that the necessary amount could not be collected without competent PR: the crowdfunding platform itself gives almost no support for the project, but simply acts as an intermediary between the author of the idea and those who want to give money for the project.
The required amount was determined as 720 000 rubles. According to the description of the project on Boomstarter, this money was planned to be spent as follows: development and production of blocks - 85 000 rubles; molds of the sole and edged punches - 290 000 rubles; procurement of materials (rubber, threads, fabric, etc.) - 120 000 rubles; production of T-shirts - “compliments” for those who transferred money - 40 000 rubles; delivery from China to Russia - 80 000 rubles; Boomstarter commission, payment systems and taxes - 105 000 rubles. Rewards were also chosen for sponsors: those who transfer more than 800 rubles depending on the amount donated will get either a T-shirt with the “Two Balls” logo, or the sneakers themselves, or both.
The campaign was designed for 60 days, and its start was scheduled for March 25 2013 years. A week before the launch of the action, Eugene sent out press releases and began negotiations on publications. Now, after nine months, the entrepreneur realizes that active promotion should be distributed throughout the project, so that the response is uniform. In his case, the largest fees occurred in the first and last three days. On the first day, the return was especially large: almost all youth online media spoke about the project. This gave a lot of new contacts, especially “likes” on social networks, mainly because the public accepted the call to “support the project” precisely as a request for dissemination of information, and not as a need to transfer money. “The first few days of the campaign are pure chaos,” recalls Eugene. Sponsors, the press, investors and just curious people immediately attacked the entrepreneur. When the excitement subsided, the “usual crowdfunding routine” began: monitoring statistics, communicating with the audience, working with the press, social media support, business meetings and cross-promotion with other projects.
Statistics on American crowdfunding sites demonstrate the conversion rate for successful projects at 5%. Eugene did not have data for Runet, but he counted on a conversion of at least 1%. In reality, everything turned out not so rosy. From March 25 to May 24 (declared 60 days) the project page was viewed by slightly more than 72 thousand users, the average viewing time was 03: 54 minutes. At the same time, only 178 people transferred money, which is a meager conversion rate - 0,2%. As a result, the project collected 307 505 rubles, that is, only 42% of the desired amount.
Eugene believes that there were no problems with the presentation and coverage of the project: he managed to get more than 50 publications in the media (including stories on TV channels), gain access to the audience of approximately 10 million people through the social network Vkontakte and about 180 thousand people on Facebook, collect 3 million video views of the project on the mail.ru portal, get free contextual advertising in Yandex.Direct, publications on social networks from Russian celebrities. Eugene draws a parallel with the results of projects on the American Kickstarter: “With such media coverage and public reaction in America, we would most likely have collected more than $ 200 000, the result would be included in the 10-ku of the largest fees on Kickstarter in the category“ Fashion". But this did not happen: we are in Russia, the conversion is 0,2%, ”the entrepreneur concludes regretfully and concludes that crowdfunding is still in its infancy in Russia: most people do not understand what it is and treat it like a pyramid“ MMM. " In the case of the project for the revival of Soviet sneakers, crowdfunding did not fire either, although it allowed the creator of the business idea to gain invaluable experience and test the reaction of the market. According to the terms of the unfunded fully crowdfunding campaigns, Eugene returned all the funds raised to those who took part in the project.
Instead of an epilogue
Despite the failed fundraising through crowdfunding, Eugene does not abandon the idea of reviving Soviet sneakers and creating the national brand Two Balls. At the time of communication with Shoes Report magazine (end of November 2013 of the year), the entrepreneur continued to meet with investors and seek funding opportunities. The minimum starting amount that is necessary for the implementation of the project, Eugene considers 22 million rubles. This investment will not only attract an audience, but also fully develop and build a business. The amount should cover the costs of development, production, testing, logistics, warehousing, marketing, marketing, offices in China and Moscow, a franchise package, a team and other expenses. By the volume of responses to the crowdfunding campaign, Eugene realized that Soviet sneakers are interesting to the audience, and estimates the minimum initial production volume as 13 thousand pairs. As for sales channels, Evgeni Raikov believes that there are about 90 stores in Russia that can potentially - and some already want to - sell its products. The entrepreneur's plans also include cooperation with retail chains of sports goods and access to international markets. In the future, Eugene plans to produce not only 5 classic models of “Two Balls” sneakers, but also to develop and refine shoe “eternal classics” from the USSR, which could repeat the success of Converse, which evolved over time to actual youth shoes. Eugene is sure that Soviet sneakers have no less development potential than the famous American brand.
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