Why American Eagle’s Sneaker Resale Pop-Up Is Getting Backlash

Last week, Las Vegas-based Urban Necessities brought its sneaker consignment banner to New York. The 1,900-square-foot pop-up debuted in American Eagle Outfitters’ Soho location, boasting rare and hard-to-find pieces including Nike’s self-lacing shoes and the coveted Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 sneakers.

Also among the mix were Jeff Staple’s “Panda Pigeon” and “Black Pigeon Dunk” kicks — which the designer said he spotted at the store this week, prompting an Instagram post that criticized the apparel and accessories retailer’s use of “logos of other brands all over their store without permission.”

In one of the photos shared Thursday afternoon, Staple captured a window display of the store that showed a collection of sneakers up for resale. “Does this mean if they partner with a handbag reseller next month, they can put LV & Hermès handbags in their windows and marketing campaigns?” he wrote. “In my opinion, this really skirts the line between what’s legal, what’s moral, what’s ethical and what’s just plain wack.”

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Need your honest opinion here on this one… American Eagle Outfitters is a publicly traded retailer that does about $4 billion in sales annually covering about 1,000 stores & employing 24,000 people. This week, ppl started pinging me saying, “Yo, you’re selling your Pigeons at @americaneagle?!” So I walk by their Soho flagship location and literally lost my breath seeing my Panda Pigeon & Black Pigeon Dunk sitting front & center in the main window display! On the side of the building? A huge billboard with @cncpts Purple Lobsters, @djkhaled Jordan’s & other high heat kicks. I do some digging and realize they have “collaborated” (aka invested in) a reseller store because: “Sneakers are about self-expression. Our brand is built on individual style…We have the second-largest (U.S.) jeans business (after Walmart). Jeans and sneakers are great pairs.” Ohkayyyy…So because this $4bil dollar retailer now decided sneaker & street culture are “trending”, they get to throw logos of other brands all over their store without permission? Does this mean if they partner with a handbag reseller next month, they can put LV & Hermès handbags in their windows and marketing campaigns? In my opinion, this really skirts the line between what’s legal, what’s moral, what’s ethical and what’s just plain wack. Would love to hear your thoughts…🤔

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Staple’s post invited a slew of sneakerheads and followers to share their “honest opinion,” with many split on the subject. Some insisted that American Eagle’s partnership with a consignment shop was a strategic move — much to Staple’s loss — or explained that the publicity would only serve to boost his brand. However, others contended that the Nike collaborator was either owed a check or involved in an issue that was too gray an area.

In the heat of the discussion, Staple clarified his stance. “I have no issue with [Urban Necessities]. They created a successful business. Got paid. And are getting shine. Ain’t nothing wrong with that,” he wrote. “It’s AEO that, in my opinion, is in the wrong here. AEO does an ad campaign…they pay the models, they pay the photographers, they pay the stylists. But in this particular case, they don’t have to pay Nike? Concepts? Khaled/WeTheBest? Jordan? Yeezy? Adi? They can just use other peoples [sic] intellectual property & trademarks in their marketing campaign?”

A number of Instagram users tagged Urban Necessities owner Jaysse Lopez, seeking to bring him into the discussion. While both American Eagle and Urban Necessities declined FN’s request for comment, Lopez ultimately responded to Staple’s post.

“If you would like to hear my side of it,” Lopez wrote, “I’m the one that gave them the shoes and direction of what shoes to give attention to. Thought I was paying my respects to you and many others that have paved the way for people like me to have a voice. Appreciate the mention either way.”

The pop-up is currently housed on the ground floor of American Eagle and expected to remain in the store for a year. In a previous interview with FN, Lopez shared the company’s plans to open at least eight more locations and confirmed the next opening in Toronto come October.

Want more?

Why Urban Necessities’ New Store in American Eagle Is the Answer to ‘Broken’ Retail

Jeff Staple’s Nike SB ‘Panda Pigeon’ Collab Started as a Rejected Sample

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