INTERVIEW: Will SNKRHD Be The Australian Supreme? 

All photos courtesy of Olivia Platt @lilsvisual

Daniel Saad is the renaissance man behind the exclusive brand SNKRHD. Taking inspiration from Supreme and Yeezy, Daniel has created a fresh and unique take on streetwear that favours unique cuts, quality, bright colours, and a fair price to boot.

We had a chat with Daniel about his brand, what he has achieved, and what his plans in the future are.

This conversation was condensed and edited by Michael Lozina for readability and brevity. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started. How did you get into the fashion industry?

I’ve always had an interest in fashion. I always want to dress well, be presented well, and then I got the random idea to start a fashion line. I was online trying to find a supplier on Alibaba one day. Just looking at what I could do. I had some ideas in mind but having an idea and trying to bring it to life are two different things. It was hard trying to find someone reliable. For me, quality is everything.

So I was just browsing one night, went to sleep and I wake up the next morning with a Facebook message request from someone saying, “I saw you searching on Alibaba. I’m a supplier, this is what I do.” Random. I don’t know how that ended up happening. I got in contact with them, got them to make some sample orders and that’s how it began. It was a completely random request. I don’t know how they found my details, or where!

If that didn’t happen, do you think you would have stopped before you even began?

It probably would’ve taken a lot longer, but someone found me, and I was like, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Lose some money making samples? So yeah, it all started there and that was around 2017.

So you’ve done this throughout the entire pandemic? How did you find it coping with lockdowns etc.?

It was difficult and not just because of the lockdowns but people weren’t spending money because of a lack of income and the cost of everything went skyrocketing because I was using a supplier in Pakistan. The shipping costs went up three times the price of what it used to be. It was about $3 a kilo and then it went up to $11 a kilo to ship the clothing. So the cost of everything went sky high and I’m not going to overcharge somebody. For me, I want to create a product that’s good quality at a reliable price cause I’m not going to rip someone off for a t-shirt.

So, quality over quantity?

100%. When I release stuff it’s about 30 pieces to 40 pieces. So yeah, I focus on quality. I wanted the clothes to wash very well, and I made sure, before I released anything, I would vigorously wash everything because I don’t want someone to wear it once and look nice, like a lot of brands, and then after a wash it feels like baking paper the next day. It’s not fair and I don’t want to be that type of person. It’s easy to make a sale once. Making a second sale isn’t as easy. We get a lot of repeat customers which is a good sign.

Back to the pandemic aspect. I did slow down. I didn’t release as much as I normally would do because you got to take and see what’s happening in the world. It’s easy to release a lot of things but not selling any of those things isn’t fun either, you know, having too much inventory. And with clothing being so seasonal it’s hard to sell a hoodie in peak summer Australia.

Daniel Saad

Did you find that it was difficult to source in Australia?

Yes, because in Australia you’re very restricted. I wanted to make my own specific cuts so everything I make is on my own size chart. It’s not someone else’s clothing and I rebrand them. It’s like, “I want it this thick, that thin. The width, the length, the sleeves, the neck.” You’re very restricted in Australia for options. If you were to supply from Australia, the price is skyrocketing. A lot of people use, for example, AS Colour. They’re killing it, good on ‘em but I feel restricted. I want to use whatever shade of green or yellow or blue.

Your colours are amazing. They’re very niche you don’t really find your shades anywhere else even when you go into your tonals it’s all tones that you don’t really see that often. I find it really creates that point of difference, is that what you’re after in your collections?

Thank you! For this season specifically, I want to do a lot of pastels, but this season is also very bittersweet. It’s dedicated to my auntie, who recently passed away in November, she helped me pick all these colours when she was sick. We sat down and I told her, “Help me choose some nice colours.” And she did. So I didn’t want to release the season but I did and 10% of the profits from this season are going to the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for everything they did for us. It was kind of like paying them back. My auntie was very out there, colourful, she was, funnily enough, a head designer for Bras n Things. So she was in fashion as well, her husband too. So yeah, this season is for her, and I wasn’t going to release it but I know she would want me to. She was a bright person so what better than a bright collection?

I can absolutely see that in the collection. It’s beautiful that you’ve done that for her, it’s beautiful.

Thank you, thank you.

So your sneakers. How do you source them? I love them but I barely see them anywhere that I can actually get my hands on them.

Sneakers is a whole other world now. It’s so insane. Even getting your hands on a pair of Yeezys, well, you can’t without reselling. I am fortunate enough to sometimes be able get myself a pair but then you have to buy resale. That’s someone else buying them to resell at a profit. So that’s why I’ve taken a step back from stocking my own sneakers and it’s more like, “Daniel, can you find me a pair?” and I’ll source you a pair. Also, again, I don’t want to be sitting on a lot of inventory. There are a lot of stores that do that who are doing very well, for example, Waves, who’s a very good friend of mine. He’s killing it. But for me it’s more “Daniel, source me a couple pair of shoes” for example, Yeezys or Dunks and that’s not an issue at all.

So it’s more about one-on-one contact with your customers?

Correct, it’s more the personal experience instead of just checkout, “Thank you for coming,” “Yeah, I’ll see you again.” I like it a lot more. But you have to create trust. There are so many fakes going around. 99% of the time, people can’t tell the difference. People who have never seen them before. I would like to give someone a more trustworthy experience. But yeah, shoes are a psychotic world and now everyone wants a nice pair of shoes.

So the shoes you have on your website, do you go through a process where you pick them depending on their popularity? How rare they are?

Some of them, yes. So now the ones that are doing well are Jordan’s. They’ve come back very strong. Nike Dunks. Yeezys. They are the three big shoes that are doing very well now. They’re in high demand. And what I put on my website is basically left-over inventory that I’ve got. Even baby shoes. Unbelievable. Baby Yeezys are selling at an unreal pace. People want if for their kids.

But they only last a couple of months!

I find it stupid but I’m the moron that’s buying matching pairs when I get a pair for myself. So I’ve got a collection of baby Yeezys. Yeah, the sneaker world is just unbelievable.

That’s what I want my brand to be – something you can wear with sneakers. Something you can either dress up or dress down. Specifically, this season too. The other seasons were more towards streetwear or streetwear influenced.

This new season feels very Australian with the colours and what not. 

Yeah and it’s the relaxed oversized look which is doing very well right now. That wasn’t around much in Australia a few years ago. I wanted to focus on that from the get-go with oversized jumpers and the like.

Do you feel like you established yourself very early as a streetwear brand?

Yes. From the get-go it was streetwear.

In 2017 there wasn’t a lot of brands dipping into the kind of trends were talking about, were there?

Not really, everyone is trying to take that Kanye [West] influence and will admit he had a massive influence. Everyone tried to recreate his Calabasas brand or his Yeezy brand in any way, shape or form, but good on him, he set a benchmark that everyone tries to attain so you have to give him some credit. That’s why I wanted to become streetwear straightaway. High quality streetwear without overcharging.

You’ve definitely differentiated from all the other streetwear brands just based on your quality, your prices, and also the trust you have with your customers. You’ve nailed all three aspects.

That’s what I’ve tried to do. The whole brand is just me. I design, I get it manufactured, I ship, I do everything. So I feel it’s more satisfying when I see someone wearing my clothing and you’re like, “I like your shirt.”

Especially when you’ve only made 30 pieces.

Yeah, it’s the concept that Supreme use. You create a demand by releasing less and people want it more.

Because people would look at the clothes and the branding and go, “Oh, who is that?” and then they look it up and find out that they can’t get it anymore.

Exactly. You have to wait for the next collection. You’ve gotta create some form of demand and anticipation for what’s next. That’s what I’ve tried to establish with the brand.

Out of all your collections, my favourite is definitely the Melrose. The new one that just came out. I love the acid wash t-shirt. Were you trying to dip into a different kind of style with this collection? Still the same pieces but just a different feel?

 With the Melrose, I want it to be specifically a blank collection. A lot of people don’t like busy designs. So that’s why with Melrose I went for less is more. I’ve gone for funky designs before but now were living in a generation where people want less on their clothing. They don’t want funky designs, big logos and that kind of stuff. So that’s what I tried to create with Melrose and add more colour rather than more design. More are coming but I didn’t want to release them all at once.

Can you tell us which colours are coming?

Pastel purple and maybe a watermelon pinkish colour. I like very out there colours. I’ve always been very out there. So very different and bright colours. You can’t always wear black and white. If you can, you might as well stand out. It’s hard to find colours like these, you can’t just type in green shirt online. You get some weird colours coming up when you do that.

I’ve never seen a green like yours, I love it. So what’s the next big thing for you?

I want to keep growing the brand and I’m also venturing with the Melrose collection to start manufacturing for other people’s brands. So it will be a part of SNKRHD but I will manufacture for other people using my own colours as a staple. So my green will be the staple green for others. So that’s what I’ve started venturing into in the last six months and I’ll hopefully grow that along with SNKRHD.

Have you seen much progress with that?

It takes a lot of time because you have to deal with other people’s designs and other people’s requests. Which is fine because I’ve done that all myself. So I know the process, I know the fees incurred, I know the questions they’re gonna ask because I had that. I just didn’t have the guidance from someone else doing it. I was dealing with someone overseas and hoping it comes through and hoping the best. That’s what I’m trying to provide. But SNKRHD is always the main goal and I’ll pass it on through Melrose collection and Melrose apparel which is like a sub section of SNKRHD.

That’s amazing, so you’re already starting to venture out. Do you want to get your own store or is it going to be mainly an online thing?

As much as I want to do a real store, I’ve done a few pop-up stores before and it is good, but I prefer online. Not many people like going into stores anymore. Everyone’s online, they know that they can order it and get it in two days. I would rather save money on that and put it into new designs and new styles. I’d rather stock other people’s stores, like a JD Sports or a Culture Kings concept than rather physically lay more time and effort into that and sacrifice future plans. I’ll just become a stockist.

It must get stressful being the only one running the business.

It does get stressful but it’s more rewarding. When you get through it all and you ship your orders and people love it and they buy it again you’re like, “Okay, they like it.” Like I said, it’s easy to buy once. Easy to buy a brand once and say, “Eh, it’s not what I wanted. It’s not what I thought it would be. It’s not the best quality.” But when they buy again, you’re like, “Okay, I’ve done something that people like.”

Have you ever thought about bringing another person on? A friend or family? Or do you prefer doing this by yourself?

I like it just being myself. If I need help in terms of media concept or photography, different story. I have a very close friend, Chris, that does all that stuff. I taught myself everything. I sat down on YouTube and Google and taught myself how to build a website. I wanted to know how to run my own business and not be reliant on someone else. If something goes wrong, I don’t want to have to try and call someone to try and change or fix something like the website.

Can anyone do this?

If you’re driven. Life’s too short. When my auntie was not well, she would say, “Life’s short, Daniel. Don’t make a regret. Have fun. Enjoy it. Do everything you want to do. The only thing you’re gonna take with you in the end is memories and no matter how hard you work you’ll never but time again.”

Will this collection, in memory of your aunt, will you keep consistent stock of, or will it still be a one-time thing?

It’s just going to be a one-off collection.

I need to get onto that then.

It’s nearly sold out! So while it was fun, it will be a one-off. I’ll probably do pieces that remind me of her, like the bright colours and concepts. Put a part of her personality in stuff, but this specifically will be a one-off.

She would’ve been really proud of you.

I hope so.

Check out SNKRHD’s great collection over on their website!

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