We spoke with Ron Faris about creating ephemeral communities in a world where Nikes aren’t just shoes anymore, they’re status symbols—like a Rolex, for your feet

Just because we don VR headsets instead of war paint these days doesn’t mean we’re not still hunters and gatherers still by nature. The only difference between us and our primal ancestors? We now hunt in jungles made of concrete, with iPhones as weapons, and cool cred, rather than survival, at stake.

Now, If anyone is an expert of cool hunting in the age of the smartphone, it’s General Manager of Nike’s NYC Digital Studio and SNKRS app Ron Faris. The former CEO of Virgin Mega has spent over a decade conceptualizing how to share experiences and grow communities ephemerally on mobile phones. He was the brains behind Virgin’s “MegaLine” app that revolutionized the concept of a waiting line by letting fans compete with each other for limited edition products on their phones as they waited. Now he heads up Nike's first digital product, design and tech studio in downtown NYC that creates experiences for Nike's passionate Sneakerhead community. Until recently, the hunt for exclusive kicks was often hijacked by scammers who would use bots to crawl webpages or pay other people to wait in line. To combat this, Ron’s team developed the Nike SNKRS app complete with a SNKRS Cam that prompts users to find images or photos in the wild, and then utilizes augmented reality to unlock a purchasing window. Its other functionality, SNKRS Stashes, is location-based, prompting users to convene at a physical spot to be able to purchase a shoe while Shock Drops alert users to immediate drops at local boutiques via push notifications where they purchase the shoe from a storefront.

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