How Renegade Mateen Zar Created Shockwaves Throughout the Footwear Industry
Social Studies was born out of passion. Mateen says, “I decided to hone into my passion for footwear and build a career around my expertise of observing the industry over the last couple decades from a consumer standpoint. Then once I started researching and learning about the footwear development process, I became fascinated with the intricacies of the process.”
Most people have a specific type of fashion item that they love to collect. Some people like to top off their outfits with a cool jacket, spunky purse, or a statement jewelry piece. Sneakerheads are a unique group of people who seek out the trendiest and most classic sneakers available.
The sneaker market has been strong since the release of Nike’s first Air Jordan line. Since then, a sneaker frenzy has become culture. It’s been decades since the Air Jordan 1’s revolutionized how people see shoes, but the best designs live on for decades and become valuable collectible items.
Sneakers have become pieces of art and the industry continues to boom. But true fanatics, like Mateen Zar, have started to see a rising problem – stagnation in innovation and design. Because of the intense popularity of certain shoe lines, major brands too often re-release older classic designs with minor changes, like color.
Unfortunately, the industry’s focus on “hall of fame” sneakers, has forced consumers to choose between purchasing iconic looks and up-to-date trends. That’s where Social Studies comes into play. Social Studies mission is to transform the best oldies into new classics, taking what consumers love about past sneaker fashion and incorporating current trends.
Knowing the market and sneaker culture intimately, Mateen knows what people want – they want rare stand-out designs. Each line released by Social Studies is not only carefully crafted, but also comes in limited quantities, making them special and enhancing the experience for customers.
“My goal is to make sneakers for collectors that aren’t only into what’s hype at the moment or what’s been popular in the past, but also enjoys the product for its meticulous design and unique attributes. The exclusivity factor of each shoe only existing in a limited quantity is also an added benefit for collectors and consumers alike,” says Mateen.
Social Studies is one of the most ground-breaking brands on the market. The brand operates as a social experiment. Historical styles, technological innovations, consumer research, and more go into the design process. Mateen has even found inspiration in the rise of virtual reality.
“For my first silhouette shoe, I took the sock shoe trend popular at the time and gave it more structure by adding a leather construct, which is an element of a more traditional shoe. We have also embarked on the trend of the “Metaverse.” If you’re not familiar with the metaverse, it is the virtual reality world of gaming and collecting. Think Fortnite skins for example.
We released a limited quantity of digital sneakers in the Aglet app, which is our partner for all things metaverse. We are now working on bringing the meta and IRL together by incorporating physical sneakers that can only be accessed through the digital space. So, you’ll be able to purchase Social Studies through Aglet in the metaverse, and that will be your form of access to our physical products,” says Mateen.
Despite having limited experience in footwear production, Mateen’s inventive approach with Social Studies product lines have led to the brand garnering high demand and fandom.
When asked about the challenges he’s face in launching his own company, Mateen says, “there are so many different aspects that have to be focused on all at once in order for the business to be successful. From conceptualizing a design to planning and executing a marketing roll-out, it’s a lot for one person to handle. I wish I had a deeper understanding of the importance to have a team of people to work with. But that’s also something that comes with time.”
In such a saturated market, there’s little room for error. Mateen’s inexperience may have its benefits. He says, “I think the fact that I don’t come from a formal fashion education background allows for Social Studies to think outside of the box and not stick to the confines of what people are taught they are supposed to do in order to run a successful fashion company. I came into this industry from love for fashion and from being a consumer first and foremost. So my designs relate to my customers because I am one of them.”
Since its inception in 2020, Social Studies has offered much value to shoppers has expanded dramatically and continues to strengthen its operational team. This has allowed the company to explore even more versatile experimental sneakers for consumers to rave about, leading the brand to become a fierce competitor.
Mateen leads Social Studies by being highly attuned to consumer needs and preferences, characteristics that are perhaps lacking in other major brands. He says, “We are focused on empowering our customers with the shoes and clothes they wear.
This is something that I’ve noticed personally when pulling off certain outfits; it gives you a surge of confidence when you’re pulling off a fire fit. To go even deeper in interacting with our customers in a very personal way, we are working on full customization of both the footwear and the jewelry.”
Looking toward the future, Social Studies plans to introduce apparel and jewelry to its product lines. These plans will include items that Mateen says will “add some diversity to our footwear selection.” In the meantime, Social Studies will continue to revolutionize sneaker culture.
Published November 20th, 2021