Sneaker enthusiasts crowd Orchard Road shoe retailer in breach of Covid-19 rules

Crowds gathered at Foot Locker's Orchard outlet, apparently for Saturday's release of limited-edition Adidas sneakers.

SINGAPORE - Authorities are investigating shoe retailer Foot Locker, following large crowds that gathered on Friday evening outside its Orchard Gateway @ Emerald outlet.

The Singapore Tourism Board said early Saturday (Dec 5) morning that investigations are underway, as Foot Locker stores have continued to hold events that draw large crowds, despite repeated advisories about crowd management.

On Friday night, crowds had gathered at its Orchard outlet, apparently for Saturday's release of limited-edition Adidas sneakers, which can fetch a tidy profit on the secondary market due to high demand.

Eyewitnesses saw at least four red Police Tactical Unit anti-riot trucks parked outside 313@somerset mall, and police tape used to cordon off shop fronts. Police officers were also seen dispersing the crowd, which consisted mainly of youths.

Photos that circulated on social media at about 8pm showed a crowd of around 100 people packed shoulder to shoulder outside the footwear store.

We're sorry but this post is not directed at anyone but this is not the way during such dangerous times. @...

Posted by Sole Superior SG on Friday, December 4, 2020

The crowds were dispersed shortly after 8.30pm after safe distancing ambassadors and police officers arrived, STB said in a statement.

"STB takes a serious view of any breach in safe management measures, and will not hesitate to take actions against individuals and businesses that do not comply with them," said STB's director for safe management operations Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy.

Adidas' Yeezy sneaker line, the product of a collaboration between rapper Kanye West and the sports shoe brand, has drawn large crowds in Singapore and abroad during past launches.

Last June, the launch of the limited-edition Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V created a long queue many hours before the release time at Foot Locker's Jewel Changi Airport outlet.

Sole Superior Singapore, a sneaker and streetwear community, called on Foot Locker to shift to a contactless system for "hyped" - or very popular - releases, and that a traditional queue system "is not the way during such dangerous times".

"All we need is just one case to create a cluster," it said on Facebook. "Then, inevitably, the public will look at the streetwear community in general in disgust."

Adidas Singapore had held an online ballot for Saturday's limited release shoes, but many sneaker aficionados who missed out appeared to have been trying their luck at Foot Locker given the high resale value of the shoes.

Crowds gathered at Foot Locker's Orchard outlet, apparently for Saturday's release of limited-edition Adidas sneakers. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SOLE SUPERIOR SG

Foot Locker Singapore had earlier marketed itself as the place to snag the exclusive shoes.

"These trainers are hot - the hype is real...Foot Locker is at the head of the latest trends, so you know it'll stock Yeezy boost trainers online and in select stores," it said on its website prior to the launch.

The Foot Locker Singapore website was down as of Friday evening.

Netizens took to social media to voice their displeasure at the lack of social distancing among the crowd.

Former NMP Siew Kum Hong shared pictures of those gathered outside Foot Locker on his Facebook on Friday with the caption: "Few cases does not mean no cases."

Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act passed in Parliament in April, those found flouting safe management measures face a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. Repeat offenders can be fined up to S$20,000, jailed for up to one year, or both.

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