BY Stephen Nartey, 2:00pm May 31, 2023,

This black CEO is thriving on sneaker culture to make money from luxury sneaker sales

James’ jackpot comes from the strategy of capitalizing on the concept that wearing the latest sneakers is a statement of style and status. Photo credit: CFDA

James Whitner is a prominent authority in the world of sneaker culture and has successfully built a business empire, tapping into the passion and influence it comes with. Growing up in the projects, what people wore was a bold statement of the resistance, pride, and optimism of the black community.

He carried this visualization from childhood all the way to adulthood and is currently institutionalizing that culture. He first started with apparel such as Nautica sweatsuits, cargo, denim, and Nike Air Max. However, he later capitalized on the sneaker culture and now runs 20 individual storefronts where he trades luxury sneakers.

Whitner’s jackpot was capitalizing on the concept that wearing the latest sneakers is a statement of style and status. While sneaker culture has evolved and expanded into various subcultures, James acknowledges that the root of this phenomenon is Black culture. It started with young teenagers looking up to the cool fresh guys driving into the projects with their clean rims and shoes.

For many, sneaker culture represents a significant aspect of Black culture. It is a manifestation of the creativity, style, and influence that have historically emanated from the Black community. Looking back to the 1980s, Black individuals celebrated and influenced various aspects of the world, including fashion and popular culture. Sneakers became an integral part of this cultural expression, representing personal styles and symbols of status.

Whitner’s entrepreneurial success also lies in recognizing that sneaker culture transcends racial boundaries. He started with four stores and bootstrapped the business at its inception due to a lack of funding. His strategy was to tap into the mainstream appeal of sneakers, which resulted in a profitable business venture, specifically with the white community, according to the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Operating luxury stores in multiple locations, Whitner has created a platform for sneaker enthusiasts from all backgrounds to indulge in their passion and make a statement through footwear choices. His success also highlights the evolution of sneaker culture. Initially rooted in Black culture, it has now grown and branched out into various subcultures.

Sneaker enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds have embraced and contributed to this culture, infusing it with unique styles and perspectives. This expansion has paved the way for a greater diversity of sneaker-related trends, collaborations, and innovations.

As sneaker culture continues to evolve and encompass various subcultures, it remains a representation of Black individuals’ broader cultural impact and influence.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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