A key player in the foundation of Android Homme, Matty Germaine – former VP of Sales for the brand, tells us his perspective on the luxury sneaker boom and where Android Homme began…
What were you doing before Android Homme?
I set up a business in Times Square, New York called Select Showroom, opening two weeks after September 11th . We became one of the first national showrooms in the US to focus on streetwear. Select is still known for many different brands, but the most popular one being Billionaire’s Boys Club and Ice Cream for Pharrell Williams. I did the official global launch and we became the first streetwear brand to ever be in Barney’s. Barney’s didn’t have a multicultural customer before then.
Were you involved with Android Homme from the beginning?
Sneaker Steve and I were partners in a company called Take Out with a professional basketball player for the LA Lakers. Legally I can’t mention his name. We were rebranding him and doing some exciting product releases with him.
We were networking and Steve introduced me to his friend Javier and we clicked straight away and he mentioned he wanted to start a footwear brand.
Javier had been to china to have some samples made of some premium sneakers. He told me those samples would be coming to America in a few weeks. He knew my background and was like, ‘listen, I really value your opinion and experience, could you come back here in a few weeks when I get the samples and let me know what you think?’.
Where did it go from there?
Steve’s background is premium footwear [hence the moniker, Sneaker Steve], and he understands materials and fit and how to get things made, working with DC Shoes in the past. Steve was the Global Director of Special Projects for DC’s lifestyle, working on collaborations and so he was able to connect with some very influential people.
We came together a couple of weeks later to view the samples. The shoes that we had cadded up were very similar to what we were developing with this basketball player. We wanted a footwear offering made through him and his brand.
Steve and I both saw the void in the market; between Gucci and Nike there was nothing. Javier was way further along in the process than we were `- he actually had samples.
He took a chance and asked, ‘Matty, being that you really like these shoes would you like to get involved on the sales side?’.
I really admired what he was doing and his direction of the brand and I loved the name Android Homme. I especially loved the optical illusion triangle logo. The messaging of reprogramming all inherently programmed beings to change their life experiences really resonated with me as I was in a time in my life where I was transforming and evolving.
I felt I could share that story of change when I was selling, and it could be powerful and authentic. So, I went to Steve and said, ‘I’m not really interested in just doing sales; I want to be a partner’, and my journey with Android Homme began.
What was it like being Global VP of Sales?
Android Homme launched in 2008 amid the cloud of the global financial crash. Everyone thought we were crazy to even think about launching at that time.
We had relationships with apparel stores. There was no significant footwear market at that time and so we were seen as pioneers.
Retailers knew how well plugged in we were and off the back of our relationships we were able to get our shoes into some of the most coveted stores in the US and get paid.
Javier had a raw talent in design; he taught himself how to use illustrator. With his skills, my retailer connections and Steve’s production knowledge we felt we had the perfect formula.
How did you propel Android Homme into a global brand?
Partnering with 2Squared Agency in the UK in 2013, that’s when the trajectory really started changing. The guys there are so hands-on and so immersed in the global footwear business. We changed production from China to Europe and the product quality really soared.
With Tim Lancaster as the Sales Director, Android Homme started achieving global success. He got us into Selfridges, Flannels, Tessuti and so many of Britain’s coolest and most premium retailers, not just those in the luxury sneaker game.
He was heavily involved from the design stage through to production to sales and then supply chain. Very quickly we were achieving sell-throughs that we had only dreamed of.
It also helps that Android Homme has always had a strong celebrity following, including Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber and Jay Z. This kind of endorsement along with some great collaborations got us featured in HypeBeast, High Snobiety and loads of Sneakerhead blogs and fashion articles, showing the world what Android Homme is really about.