Kicking back in the shoe vault with Hong Kong’s Sneaker Surge

Kicking back in the shoe vault with Hong Kong’s Sneaker Surge
Source: Sneaker Surge

As sneaker culture has become more mainstream, it’s easy to take the industry for granted. Out and about, most of us would opt for a comfortable, stylish pair of trainers over any other kind of shoe. Many of us even own a few pairs that we cycle through based on activity, outfit and style. Sneakerheads, though, are on another level. They collect and trade these athletic shoes with a reverence akin to that of Birkin bags.

In Hong Kong, the sneaker game has also permeated pop culture, and one of its newest and biggest contributors is Sneaker Surge. Touting a dual promise of authenticity and accessibility, Sneaker Surge exists as a platform for learning about and purchasing the “most coveted sneakers” around.

Featuring a unique concierge service and a growing blog, this Hong Kong-based supplier invests in the local sneaker movement’s broader fashion and cultural scope. We sat down with one of the co-founders of Sneaker Surge, Mira Uttamchandani, to learn more about how they are changing the Hong Kong sneaker game.

How it all began

Source: Sneaker Surge

Sneaker Surge is the brainchild of co-founder duo (and couple) Ravine Mahtani and Mira Uttamchandani. They came up with the idea for Sneaker Surge in 2017.

“We found that there was a really big gap in Hong Kong in the market between sellers and buyers because there was just not enough stock,” explains Uttamchandani. “No one knew where to get these shoes. The people that were getting them were selling […] for a crazy price. Most of the end-users that were buying it were buying for a crazy price.”

At the time, the founders realized that the sneaker culture in Hong Kong was concentrated primarily in one area and demographic.

“The stores were really based in this one area called ‘Sneaker Street’ in Hong Kong, and they are local,” recalls Uttamchandani. “So a lot of people who didn’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese struggled to […] purchase from those places.

“So, we kind of entered the market where I would say we were one of the first, at the time, international, English speaking sneaker sellers – hype sneaker sellers. And then, during COVID, a lot of the stores closed. We became kind of like one of the main players. And we differentiated ourselves quite a bit by launching a concierge service, which came about from my personal styling experience.”

Sneaker Street, formally named Fa Yuen Street, is the athletic clothing and shoe hub of Hong Kong. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic led sneaker traders and collectors to shop more online, Sneaker Surge became a real player in the sneaker game.

While other e-commerce sneaker sites, like GOAT and StockX, have been around for longer, Sneaker Surge’s presence has risen steadily in Hong Kong since it was founded – due in part to its niche appeal and also its accessibility and concierge service.

Uttamchandani stresses that the intentions of Sneaker Surge are based on transparency and learning. “We’re really trying to educate the customer,” she says. “I feel a lot of customers want to understand, ‘Why am I paying HK$2,000 for this pair of sneakers?’ You know? So [we’re] really trying to educate the customer and come at it from a different perspective.

Concierge service and styling

Source: Sneaker Surge

A few decades ago, sneakers were probably not the first footwear that came to mind when considering high-end fashion, but now they’ve become quite the swanky accessory. And an expensive one, at that.

Like with all accessories, though, not every sneaker works for every person, outfit or activity. So, a part of Sneaker Surge’s appeal is its styling concierge service, which helps you narrow down the best options. The concierge service is also there for those looking to learn more about the shoes they’re purchasing – fitting into their mission of transparency and authenticity. Uttamchandani does much of the styling herself. Having graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City, she worked as a stylist before this venture.

There’s a whole process to styling a sneaker for an individual. “You have to really understand the person: their height, the colors that they like, what they usually wear, what they don’t usually wear, what they’re in the mood for, and also where they are in their Sneaker journey. Is this their first pair, do they have a big collection and are now ready for something more expensive and riskier?” explains Uttamchandani.

“So, usually when it comes to styling, especially with girls in Asia, height plays a big role. A lot of girls in Asia are not very tall, so they stay away from high-tops, which is unusual when catering to Australia or the US because people are taller there. So high-tops, Jordans, are a huge thing.

“In Hong Kong, I found that people don’t really like high-tops, so they go for more of the [Nike] Dunks. And then when it comes to males as well, that ugly shoe trend, that ‘dad shoe’ didn’t do well in Hong Kong. […] Whereas in the States, they love it.”

Styling for an individual also requires a lot of forethought and research. “[There’s] a lot of trend analysis when I’m styling – what are the new colors of the year, what styles are celebrities pushing and what’s next for luxury brands?” says Uttamchandani.

Current collections

Source: Sneaker Surge

As a smaller reseller, Sneaker Surge has curated a more exclusive shoe selection, and names like Nike, Adidas, Air Jordan, Yeezy and Sacai are prevalent. Many different styles of Dunks are available, as are Jordan’s, Slides and more.

You’ll also find exciting brand and designer collaborations, including Fragment Design X Sacai X LDV Waffle and Kaws X Sacai X Blazer Low. Designs ranging from low-top, high-top, retro and comfort allow for an apt shopping experience for collectors, traders and casual shoppers alike.

On the pairs she’s most excited about having, Uttamchandani says: “The Black and White Dunks Lows performed extremely well this year – and Nike Dunks Lows in general. It will be interesting to see how Nike’s “Next to Nature” collection performs. They’ve already announced a release for the Michigan State Dunk Low, University Red and a Black and White Dunk for their collection.

Authenticity and transparency

Source: Sneaker Surge

Unlike many resellers, Sneaker Surge stocks all the sneakers sold on their site. This means that, rather than act as the middleman between customer and supplier, they house all their inventory. Before the sneakers are even posted on their site, they’re authenticated. Then, when a customer puts in an order, the shoes are shipped right away. This approach takes a lot of the anxiety out of luxury shopping, as there’s less chance of delay or miscalculations.

Additionally, Sneaker Surge only sells “deadstock.” Deadstock refers to shoes that haven’t ever been sold. So, although this is a reselling platform, none of the shoes has been previously sold or worn.

In the loop with “Small Talk”

Source: Sneaker Surge

Apart from the e-commerce site, Sneaker Surge features a blog, “Small Talk,” where sneaker culture articles are published for sneakerheads everywhere to enjoy.  Small Talk covers everything from sneaker roundups to interviews. For beginner collectors, this part of the site offers insight on which collections to look out for, the context of specific trends and the sneakerhead lifestyle.

“When we do our blogs, we kind of make sure they’re short and fun to read,” Uttamchandani says. “The other thing is, we really wanted to include things about sneaker culture, but not necessarily sneakers. You know, it’s such an interest in culture – there’s art involved, there’s music involved. There are so many collaborations; there’s food involved.

“So we’re trying to tap into not just sneakers, but everything else it surrounds and its ecosystem. And then you have hypebait art, you have hype, big music {…]  all these things that are in one ecosystem, and we want to touch and kind of integrate all of those.”

The blog is also beginning to feature growing artists and entrepreneurs in the industry. “The other thing I really wanted to do was include people in the sneaker space that are kind of up and coming,” she notes. “So we have people doing smaller startups, doing tote bags with an Air Jordan design on it and starting their own sneaker-inspired companies.

“We’re including that in our interviews as well, just to give them a platform to just talk about their own company. It’s really hard starting, and they’re doing it, and they’re doing it all out of passion. So there’s a couple of people that we have lined up that we’ve interviewed to see how they’re starting their companies.”

As fashion evolves and athleisure grows in popularity, the sneaker revolution is more relevant than ever. What started as a facet of 70s and 80s African American culture, sneaker collecting has become an international interest. And, in keeping with its subculture roots, boutique sneaker sellers and startups like Sneaker Surge are catering to specific niches within the sneakerhead community.

Is your business doing something cool that you want to show off? Get in touch at