La Vie En Retail with Oliver from Nike

Episode # 6— Oliver Pressinger

July and August are considered a vacation season, so this article took us a bit longer to finish as it’s all about sea & sand. But we still made it! This time, we caught up with an amazing person, passionate sneaker-collector and sales expert, Oliver Pressinger, who’s been working at Nike for nearly 16 years.

Disclaimer: All views expressed are strictly Oliver’s personal and no way do they represent Nike in any way, shape, or form.

A: Hey! Thanks a lot for taking time for a little interview with us during your vacation. Highly appreciate it. And now… Please introduce yourself
O: My name is Oliver, I just turned 40 this year. I’ve got Indonesian roots but grew up in Vienna with an Austrian father and an English-Czech mother. I was fortunate enough to go to the Vienna international school and graduate there in 1999.
I’ve competed in Track & Field at a junior international level, I’ve also played rugby since the age of 14 and loved to ski. I’ve loved basketball since 1992 seeing the dream team at the Olympics, but I’ve never been good at it. During my university years, shout out to Loughborough Uni, I did coaching certificates for Basketball and Volleyball next to T&F that allowed me to coach at the high school level once I finished Uni.

A: Before talking about the career, let’s talk about the real passion. The sneakers. You got into the game quite a long time ago. How did it all start for you?
O: As I said, I’ve competed in T&F since 1993 when I turned 12. Back then, like now, the running shoes you wore were the biggest flex — maybe next to your Oakley Razors or Nike International running gear.

The flex of the 90s

I wore the Huarache, Footscapes, Pump Fury, Adi equipment series as well as Mizuno and other sneakers of the year as “training” shoes. This naturally got me into sneakers at a young age. I was allowed 1–2 pairs a year for training in, a lot I still have at home.

A: And since then you are collecting kicks or did it happen a bit later? Are there any things you miss from the «good old times» that do not exist now?
O: Collecting, started way later. When I was younger I was fortunate enough to wear new shoes for sports. Once I started at Nike and had a bit of spare cash I started collecting. I started at Nike during my Uni-summers as part of the EKIN* running team. I think around ‘02/‘03, we got free shoes and a lot of gear and I always knew I wanted to work for Nike!

* EKINs — a division of Nike marketing based on delivering the Nike message using innovation and grassroots development. Learn more about EKIN program here.

Good old times, you know, of course, I’d like to go back in time and pick up some gems from the late ’90s but with all the retro’s coming I’m happy to pick those up and wear again.
I’m actually in the middle of working on a book with a friend and colleague of mine; shout out G! Where we want to capture the stories behind your favorite kicks and what got you into sneakers.
But yeah, I miss the physicality of launches, the events; the anticipation. I get the need for raffles, I really do. But they take a lot out of the whole sneaker scene.

A: Can’t wait to see the book then — need one with autographs! Well, let’s go back to work… So, Was it Nike who chose you or you who chose Nike? Do you remember how did you decide to join the Swoosh?
O: T&F was a part of my life since I was 12. My dad was a former Track athlete and got me into the sport. The Austrian National team used to be Adi sponsored, so for international tournaments we got some nice Adi gear. But for me — Nike was always the brand. Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, but most of all Sir Charles Barkley were my role models. So I always wanted to work for Nike.
And when I got a chance to work summer jobs within the EKIN running team I didn’t hesitate a minute and in Oct ’05 I was interviewed for the EKIN role for Austria. So the swoosh found me and I was happy to jump on board for what is now 16 years…

Winner of nine gold medals, Carl Lewis is one of the world’s most decorated Track & Field athletes

A: What’s the coolest thing about working at Nike for you? Are there any cool perks, which make it a very special place? (No free Ws on SNKRS, I guess haha)
O: Where do I begin? Hmmm…
It’s always about the people. And over the last 16 years, I’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing colleagues, a lot becoming really close friends. You can wear pretty much what you want, you do get a nice discount on Nike gear and the facilities in Europe’s HQ are really nice. Not quite the level of WHQ but still pretty amazing.
Meeting your idols, I’ve seen Carl Lewis, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and many more. Listening to them at sales meetings was always inspirational and goosebump-worthy, especially if they’ve been your idols since you were a kid!
And yeah… No W’s on SNKRS! #Facts

A: Wow! Lots of people are dreaming of that career. But what’s the reality… How does your typical day look like?
O: I’ve had 11 jobs at Nike & Jordan over the past 16 years. I’ve worked in 6 different Nike offices and 5 different countries. There is no typical day at Nike!
But the last 6 years I’ve been at our EMEA HQ in Hilversum; shout out Hillywood Nike Crew.

Nike EMEA HQ @ Hilversum via Google Earth

What’s it like to work there, prior to Covid? If you’re a morning person, hit the gym, hit the track, a lot of employees bike to work from Amsterdam, do a yoga class in the morning, or a spinning class…
Afterward, head over to the barista, get yourself an espresso or whatever latte-chino-double pump caramel-whipped cream concoction you want at the on-campus Starbucks. If you want, get in line for an egg and salmon omelet brekkie and a smoothie.
Then get to one of the flex desks on campus and start your workday. You’ll probably drink way too many coffees as outside of meetings and zoom calls your always catching up with people — for work or socially, on the lawn, at the cafe, or wherever over a coffee…
For lunch, go to the Bills for some food, hit 72’s for an a la carte lunch (changes monthly), or pop over to one of the many food trucks on campus. They change and have amazing food; shout out the sublime deep-fried chicken (or tofu)!
In between all that, get some work done. Allocate some Travis x Jordan, look at assortments, track bookings, have strategy meetings on the next season, discuss colorways of the upcoming retro’s and try to work out the “correct” amount of units for each one based on sell-through, gut feeling, colorways, and historical bookings — maybe even check GOAT to see the re-sell value and other metrics if it’s an OG colorway.
Maybe you’re presenting the upcoming seasons' products to buyers or you might be getting ready for a marketplace trip to London, Paris, Berlin, or any other major city in Europe!
So there is no way to predict what your next day or week will look like.

A: What are the biggest challenges of modern retail in your opinion? Any ideas on solutions?
O: If I’d have the answer to that, I’d be VP by now 😂 There are so many and covid accelerated a lot of them.
How do kids shop? How will they shop in 2, 5, and 10 years? Is online the do all and be all of retail? What about Brick & Mortar?
Are experiences, like House of Innovations or the new Dubai Jordan store; shout out Sun & Sand team, is that what consumers are looking for? (Finding a balance between online shopping and high street big-box retailers is key)
What about the specialty stores? Are they just “another” access point? Are they the heart-beat of this sneaker culture beast? Are they a relic of the past or are they what consumers are looking for in terms of new brands, new styles, and are they all-around influencers for consumers?

Well, I don’t have the answer, but my gut tells me that in 2022 and beyond, you better stand out, than fade into the masses.

Too many to shout out here, but there are a lot of strong sneaker retailers in EMEA! Some of my favorites are BSTN, Opium, and Opium, Amongst Few, Offspring, SNS, Concepts, Solebox, Patta, The Good Life and so many more, which have done a lot of amazing launches over the years!

A: You mainly work with big retailers, but maybe you can share any advice/recommendations/ideas with small & medium-sized businesses to grow & change for the better?
O: Be better. Be seen. Do community work. Survive! Create a niche and be unique. Not easy, but nowadays you need to stand out and be seen.

A: The state of the sneaker culture. It’s growing and rapidly changing. How would describe the changes? Is it good or bad? Or is it just a logical thing?
O: Like everything, it’s always changing and evolving. Which is neither good nor bad but just a fact. Sneakers have become more than footwear. They are status symbols, investment objects — they’re art, they’re high fashion and innovation vehicles for brands. Or a combination of all of the above…
Demand has never been as high as it’s right now. However, supply, be it due to diminished production or creation of pull markets and undersaturation, has never been this low (in comparison to demand, not by total units). This has created an unprecedented secondary market that’s growing and growing. A lot of consumers see resell prices as a “normal” or part of the game.

A: Collabs are becoming mainstream and not that creative/exciting anymore. What is “a great collab” to you (with examples if possible)? And in your personal opinion, who does it the best these days? Virgil? Travis? Hiroshi and his Fragment?
O: That’s a great question! There are tons of amazing collabs — both past, present, and future ones in the work.
I think a great collab, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder — right? It depends on what you like! Is it the collaborator? The materials? The occasion? Maybe the marriage of two brands you never thought would happen?
For me personally, the deeper I dive into the Dior x AJ1, the more I’m captured by this collab; shout out Thibo, who gave us the deep dive on this collab last time I was in Paris with G working on our book!

Sean Wotherspoon with Thibo Denis, Dior Men’s Head Footwear Designer on Dior and Jordan Brand (source: Dior)

From way back when — I mean the Jeff Staple’s “Pigeon” Dunk SB was crazy. UNDFTD AJ4, got the background story to that a few years back on a trip to LA. There are so many more — shout out Pierre and the French Jordan team on their work with PSG, Q54, and Maison Château Rouge.
Virgil or Travis or Hiroshi? Damn!
Virgil really changed the game with his “the Ten” — Fragment AJ1’s, I’m still hunting those (DS US10’s send me a DM) that’s a grail for me. And Travis has just produced great collabs, especially the Jordan’s. I was fortunate enough to be on a zoom call with Reggie from the Jordan team who shared some dope insights into the Travis collabs and how creative he his — which makes me like them even more.
However, for me, it’s Fragment and Hiroshi that edge out Virgil and Travis.

A: Back in the days, when “the game” was still young… How difficult it was to get the sneakers you wanted?
O: Up until I started to work at Nike, so around ‘03-‘05, I never had trouble getting what I wanted — maybe cause I wasn’t looking for collabs and TZ [tierzero]. I bought what I liked at the Nike store, running specialty accounts or the local Footlocker House of Hoops in Vienna.
Once I started at Nike, and traveled more, got introduced to all these sneaker accounts, and saw the evolution of sneakers I really tried to build a sneaker network if you like. To get hold of release in Japan or the US that didn’t make it to Europe. It was a hustle but it was fun to get to know people like that.

A: And during that pre-Instagram era, who had the freshest kicks and how was the influencer to you?
O: You’d consume tons of magazines. I’ve got SNEAKER FREAKER volume 1 till what ever the latest edition is. You’d buy Slam Magazine or other similar print media and see what’s launching soon and what’s out there. When did Instagram start? I can’t even remember…

Slam (Issue #1 cover pictured) launched in 1994 as a basketball magazine that combined the sport with hip-hop culture

I was always influenced by athletes. What’s MJ wearing? Charles Barkley? Andre Agassi? Often by colleagues — the ones who were there before me at Nike; shout out AGS NSW crew from ‘08-‘11, I saw what they were wearing, the brands etc.

A: If you could wear the same kicks for the rest of your life what would it be?
O: Right now, AJ1 Low OG’s, hands down. Especially the SB‘s with the zoom air. So comfy! Otherwise, classics, AM1 OG’s, Footscapes. Sounds like old man things, right?

A: Classics are classy, they have no age! Okay, and your top 5 kicks of all-time?
O: In terms of styles: AM1, Footscapes, AJ1 & 4… and I guess AJ6/7’s as that’s the two J’s that MJ wore in ’92 when I first saw him and started to idolize his Airness…
And if you ask me specifically for 5 kicks that I’d love to have:
AJ4 UNDFTD, AJ1 Fragment, Nike MAG, OG Pigeon Dunks, and maybe the Shattered Backbord AJ1’s.

Chris Vidal, former employee of Flight Club, skating in super-rare AJ4s UNDFTD. (source: IG @ foodrap)

Then if you ask about the Top5 that I own:
AJ1 Chicago from 1985 in MJ’s size 13, AJ1 Hi Dior, my first Footscapes still wearable after all these years, AJ1 Offwhite in White, as they were given to me for the T32 [Nike Summit] event in LA, they got messed up at MJ’s Birthday party during the T32/ASW, but that’s a whole other story and probably the AJ4 KAWS.

A: What’s your favorite release of the year so far and the one you’re waiting for the most?
O: Tbh, I love the AJ3 AMM, quality is so dope!
I’m looking forward to the Travis Hi & Low which should be releasing soon.
I’m also excited about the AJ2 Lows that are coming. I’m really not a fan and outside of the DonC’s and the OG pair (poor quality) from a few years back, I don’t have them in my collection. But with the 550 NB’s and Adi Forums, I think it’s the perfect time for the AJ2’s to make a comeback and become a staple!

JustDon x Air Jordan 2 “Beach” 2016 (source: justdon.com)

A: How big is your collection? And what are the oldest and the most precious pair?
O: It fluctuates… I think the most I’ve had was close to a 1000 pairs. But I’ve donated and given away a lot of pairs over the years. Also, I feel that my feet grew half a size over the years. I used to always buy 9,5’s but now 10’s are fit perfectly.
Oldest pair is actually a running pair from the 70’s. It was an eBay buy, probably 10 years ago. I just wanted to have a pair from back then.
Precious for me personally? Probably the AJ1 85’s. I bought them through a re-seller in Japan a few years ago.
Precious in terms of value? Maybe the Dior AJ1 Hi? Maybe the What the Dunk (it’s worn tho).

A: Even though you’re more a JB person, I’m sure you have some love for Nike SB. What’s your fav SB pair from the vault?
O: As I mentioned above, Top5 for me is still the “Pigeon”. There are a lot of SB’s that I missed, or couldn’t get back when. From my personal SB collection, I must say that the Travis Dunks or the Ben & Jerry’s Dunk Lows are really nice. More recently, the Concepts’ “Turdunken” has a great story; shout out Deon, Faisal, and Skiro!

New York Post 23/02/2005 when Staple dropped their first Dunks (source: ComplexSneakers)

A: Is there any advice you’d like to give to the younger generation of sneaker-lovers?
O: Buy what you like. I hope you fall in love with sneakers just like I did. Don’t be obsessive. Don’t risk rent for sneakers and don’t go into debt for sneakers. It’s not worth it!
Travel and visit the sneaker stores you enter raffles from. Talk to the staff and owners, you’d be surprised how much insight and love you’ll get!

A. You traveled for sneakers & the job a lot. But, as a traveler and a sneakerhead… What are the 3 stores in the world everyone must visit?
O: That’s so hard! I can’t just name 3!
I love Tokyo, so visiting the original Atmos store was a must for me! Next time I go I can’t wait to check out the new SNS store — the pictures look crazy.
NY? LA? So many… back when it was Supreme, DQM, Mercer, now Bodega, Kith, and Concepts.
In Europe, some of the OG stores, head to Paris, and if you’re lucky listen to Yace and Mournir at Opium, head to Bologna and check out Back Door Bottega — listen to Marco’s sneaker stories about his complete OG Jordan collection.

Details of Opium Paris’ famous Air Max 180 collab with Nike from 2005

Check out the new Kith in Paris — it’s a palace! In Munich hit up the BSTN store and check out their own brand next to all the kicks and if you’re lucky and are there for one of their launch events you won’t regret it! And if you happen to be in Amsterdam, you gotta check out Patta, of course, but there’s more! Ladies have Maha in town and if you love basketball the Oqium guys have you sorted. They also started some pretty innovative activations prior to Covid for some of their high heat launches.

That’s all for Episode #6. Merci, Oliver, for all of your answers, and shout out to everyone who read this article till the end!

With love from Paris & Hamburg

To sneakerheads, collectors, skaters, retailers & people who just love the kicks worldwide

Peace out ✌️

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