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This Chinese Sneaker Resale Platform is Using Blockchain for Authentication

Sneaker resale and blockchain are teaming up for authentication.

Unique Fashion Object, or UFO, a sneaker resale platform in China started by regional streetwear pioneer, YOHO!—announced that it will immediately begin using blockchain to verify the authenticity of its products, a first for sneaker resale.

UFO is partnering with Ultrain, a public blockchain startup based out of Hangzhou, China, to introduce blockchain traceability technology into its business model in order to offer its consumers and sellers a seamless, peer-to-peer method of verification.

Citing steady growth in demand for sneakers in China, YOHO! established the sneaker platform in 2018 and the organization said its sales now account for more than 20 percent of YOHO!’s total sales.

As trust is paramount in sneaker resale, UFO and YOHO! wanted a method for authentication that would put their brand at the top of consumers’ minds.

“Each sneaker must be authentic if it is to have value on a secondary market, and a trading platform full of counterfeits would be highly detrimental to the industry,” the brand said in a statement.

Sneaker resale platforms typically use a massive database of data points on each sneaker style, combined with the expertise of their human authenticators, to verify an individual sneaker’s authenticity. Verification is an incredibly important area for resale and platforms will often offer free returns and full refunds for any mishaps in authentication.

But, with blockchain, UFO is looking to take that authentification up a notch.

“YOHO! founded an independent appraisal team of eight experienced appraisers to authenticate individual sneakers, which are then labeled with an anti-counterfeiting tag,” the brand explained. “All sneaker-specific data, such as origin, chain of custody and authenticity is recorded by the tag and registered on Ultrain’s public chain.”

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Once an individual sneaker reaches its eventual owner, the buyer can then verify the sneaker’s authenticity via a smartphone app using the data embedded in the attached tag.

YOHO! believes the move will be a breakthrough in China’s sneaker resale market, which it says was essentially thwarted due to widespread concerns about the ability for a platform to provide a “comprehensive appraisal process.” Instead, a sizable portion of China’s market share was going to American platforms like StockX. YOHO! said around 15 percent of StockX’s users are based in China and represent a valuable chunk of the business the platform conducts on a daily basis.

UFO already has the advantage of immediate access to the 20 million registered users of YOHO!’s streetwear app and will look to cement its place as a pioneer in the region’s resale market with its early investment in blockchain verification.

Blockchain has long been rumored as the next step in the verification of luxury products, with sneaker resale being the next logical step. Authenticity in footwear is likely to become much more important to brands as recent reports have shown that footwear and apparel are becoming increasingly likely to be counterfeit.