This South African invented an eco-friendly sneaker cleaner that is now in hot demand across the world

Business Insider SA
Sneaker Lab
Jo Farah. Photo supplied.
  • Farah noticed a gap in this R780 billion industry – a sneaker-care product that would look after high-price sneaker investments.
  • Sneaker LAB now operates in 60 countries, including downtown Los Angeles, and is soon to be launched in Japan.
  • It’s the only sneaker-care product range in the world to be declared environmentally friendly.

In 2008, the idea of an environmental-friendly luxury sneaker cleaner would have been scoffed at. But for Jo Farah that idea has turned out to be lucrative – because today rich millennials are purchasing sneakers as a luxury status symbol, giving rise to a R780 billion industry.

"The culture has seen sneakers becoming personal status symbols, especially among the youth," said Farah. "Sneakers are becoming extremely collectable with some collectors spending fortunes on limited releases. This new appreciation for sneakers has seen the complementary rise of products to care for those sneakers." 

Affluent millennials are willing to fork out as much as R12,700 on Balenciaga's Triple S sneakers and R7,000 on Lanvin low-tops according to a report by The NPD Group.

Read: Rich millennials are creating new trends and status symbols — here are 7 ways they're redefining what luxury looks like

"Sneakers are a part of people’s personas and we understand the emotional attachment that people have to them," said Farah.

Farah noticed that a small part of the value chain was missing: sneaker-care products, and in particular a cleaner that would not affect the value of the sneakers.

“[I saw] there was a gap in the market for a high-end sneaker care brand and this is when the Sneaker LAB concept began. I began developing a sneaker cleaning range that would be both sustainable and be able to compete on a global scale,” said Farah. 

According to Farah what makes the product stand out is a Green TAG certification, making it the only sneaker-care product range in the world to be declared environmentally friendly and biotech driven.

"When I started Sneaker LAB, I took a great deal of time to research the biodegradable environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions that would be more innovative than those already on the market."

The small company that Farah started in 2013 is now in 60 countries, including downtown Los Angeles, with an experiential store soon to be launched in Japan.

"Sales vary from territory to territory. For example, we sell a lot of our protector product into wetter, colder climates (such as Scandinavia) but hotter, dryer climates favour the Sneaker Cleaner," said Farah.

Now Read: This new Adidas sneaker was created by a South African company

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