In Australia, the Volley has carved up a reputation as the ultimate beater — the shoe you wore as a kid when you knew trauma below the ankles was imminent. While ruggedness wasn’t their forte (you’ll know if you’ve ever used ‘em for any kind of physical activity), the modest $30 AUD price tag was often enough to convince parents to opt against those more ‘exorbitant’ Nike Roshes. For many of us, the Volley is a reminder of humbler, less less lavish times. In China, however, the low-top is riding a wave of celebrity-backed hype, with a chain of 50 Volley stores set to open by 2021.
Demand for the cotton tennis shoe skyrocketed after Hong Kong pop star Faye Wong was photographed in a pair back in 2016. The fashion clout of the ‘Chinese Beyonce’ was not to be denied — a Volley pop-up store opened up in Beijing shortly after, and their first standalone location in Shanghai is set to launch this month.
John Szwede, manager at the Brand Collective (Volley’s parent company), says the ‘celebrity focus’ has played a huge in the decision.
‘Since opening the pop-up store in May, we've had our biggest growth month in China ever,’ says Szwede. ‘The split between online and physical store sales is almost 50-50. It's remarkable how big the market is. Seventy per cent of our wholesale sales are now going to China. It's been a massive shift since launching here 18 months ago.’
According to the brand, Chinese consumers are on board with the ‘Australian angle’ of Volley. And, with locals snapping up pairs at the inflated cost of $85 AUD, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Who knows, we could be seeing a CLOT collaboration before we know it?