Sneakerhead and Pro Athlete RJ Barrett Celebrates Launch of eBay Authenticity Guarantee
Authenticity can be defined as the ability to stay true to one’s “own personality, spirit, or character,” — a sentiment New York Knicks shooting guard RJ Barrett knows intimately, both on and off the court.
“Never change, just be yourself. I feel like that’s how I try to live my life, and how people should try to live if they can,” he explains.
The old adage of knowing where you come from couldn’t ring truer for the Mississauga, Ont., native. With his dad, Rowan Barrett, a former professional player and current general manager of Team Canada’s men’s team, and a godfather in NBA legend Steve Nash, Barrett’s roots run deep.
His authenticity is apparent in his gameplay, but even more so in his unfailing ability to pay homage to his Canadian roots any chance he gets, whether that’s sporting a Team Canada jersey on the global stage, or designing sneakers with the North in mind.
You don’t have to look any further than his PUMA endorsement deal to see the homegrown influences. “I have the CN Tower and the Canadian maple leaf on the tongue of the shoe,” he explains. “Maple Mamba”—his nickname from his playing days at Duke University and a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant—is also etched on a pair.
It’s no wonder why then, eBay has recruited the self-proclaimed sneakerhead to celebrate the launch of its Authenticity Guarantee program in Canada. Earlier this month, eBay opened its first Canadian authentication centre in Toronto, Ont., as a way to help combat dupes and foster safe buying.
“My passion for sneakers mostly came from just my friends growing up, we all loved sneakers. Everybody wanted the newest J’s. That’s kind of where my love started,” Barrett said.
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At only 20 years old with two years in the league, it wasn’t that long ago Barrett was a kid himself. The memory of the first pair he desperately wanted seems fresh in his mind.
“I wanted this pair of Jordan 1’s, I had to do all the chores in the house..and then [my parents] let me go on eBay and get them. I was really excited about that,” he laughs.
Like Barrett, it seems even more Canadians have begun buying. In 2020, eBay’s domestic Canadian sneaker sales grew 325 percent. With more than half a million luxury sneakers available on eBay for Canadians to shop from at any given moment, it’s likely that number will only continue to grow.
The key to any successful commerce business is the willingness to listen to your community. Beyond an increased demand for luxury and collectible sneakers, the e-commerce giant recognized authentication was one of the most requested features in categories like sneakers, due to their high value and dedicated passion. Afterall, there are few communities as dedicated as Sneakerheads to their craft.
“You never want fake shoes,” Barrett says soberly before smiling. “They had that thing where there was a lot of fake Yeezys, and there’s a lot of fake Jordans, you don’t want that.”
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Anyone in the business of buying kicks knows the kryptonite to online buying is the potential doom of getting a fake. Understanding this, eBay has hired Sneaker Con, an independent team of industry experts to vet everything from the packaging and laces to logos, stitching and heel tabs. Once the shoes pass inspection, they are given an authentication tag and shipped out.
The program currently targets new condition sneakers over $100 (specifically Yeezy, Jordan, Nike, adidas, New Balance, Asics, Vans, Reebok, Converse, and Puma) but has hopes to include more brands and shoes in pre-owned condition by the end of the year.
This announcement builds on eBay Canada’s move to remove selling fees on all sneakers sold for $100 or more, which has helped attract more top sellers and bring even more coveted inventory to the marketplace.
The company has also created new positions on the Canadian team dedicated to, you guessed it, sneakers. If authenticity is the name of the game, then eBay has it figured out.
“I know eBay puts an authenticity tag, and you get an email from the authentication department after you actually buy something. So that’s definitely been a huge step in the right direction, because other than that, you’re kind of just gambling,” says Barrett.