Japan’s No.1
Sneaker Marketplace

7th August 2022 EDT FEATURES

[Interview] From Japan to the World: Kohei Hamada

In the first of our SNKRDUNK Interviews series, we sat down with our Global Director Kohei Hamada to find out his vision for SNKRDUNK (plus his favourite sneakers!).


By Louis Teo
Photography by Jif Wong

Originally from Tokyo, Kohei Hamada is the head of SNKRDUNK’s global HQ based in Singapore and has been living in the sunny island-state for more than half a year.

Kohei co-founded Monokabu, a sneaker marketplace app, in Japan at the age of 25. The app went on to become the country’s second largest sneaker platform, earning Kohei a spot in the Forbes 30-Under-30 list under the Retail and E-Commerce category.

Last year, it was announced that market leader SNKRDUNK has acquired Monokabu, making SNKRDUNK the number 1 sneaker marketplace in Japan with an 80% market share. This unprecedented merger also means bigger, bolder expansion plans. SNKRDUNK set its sights beyond Japan and aimed to bring its online marketplace service and sneaker authentication technology to the rest of the world.

Kohei, who speaks lightly-Japanese accented English, was tasked with this global expansion. Setting up base in Singapore, he and his team have successfully launched international editions of the SNKRDUNK app and an online sneaker magazine (yes, this humble site you’re on right now). The SNKRDUNK app currently boasts 4.3 million monthly users, connecting Japanese sneaker sellers with the rest of the international community.

As SNKRDUNK’s presence in the region continues to grow, we sat down with Kohei over a cup of iced Kopi O Kosong (his go-to local drink) to find out how his love for sneakers brought him here and where SNKRDUNK International is headed next!

Q. Hi Kohei! Do you remember the first pair of sneakers that you owned?

I still remember buying a pair of red Nike Terminator “High Gradient” in high school with my parents. But the actual first pair of sneakers that I got by myself is the Air Jordan 5 when I was 18.

Kohei Hamada SNKRDUNK International

Q. Which pair of sneakers holds the most meaning to you?

Ever since I was little, I have loved the Jordan 5 for its silhouette and I have fond memories of it being the first sneaker I bought myself.

The Air Max 90 “We Love Nike” pack also has a special place in my heart because it’s the first sneaker I purchased from Monokabu. Also, not forgetting the Sacai Waffle, which is the first sneaker I purchased from SNKRDUNK.

Q. Share with us how SNKRDUNK International started.

When I sold Monokabu to SNKRDUNK, I decided to create a sneaker marketplace service that would be used not only in Japan, but around the world.

If you look at the sneaker world, there are many different players. But, in Asia, the market is still developing rapidly, and we hope to establish a presence in the region with SNKRDUNK International.

Slider_Kohei Hamada SNKRDUNK

Q. What are the key differences between the global and Japanese sneaker markets?

Back in the day, the Nike Air Max 95 was the IT sneaker in the Japanese street scene and it sold like hotcakes in Japan*.

In recent years, however, it has become less common for a sneaker model to be sold exclusively in a certain region. I think this is because the world is getting more and more connected, and what users are looking for have slowly become more and more identical.

Q. Some upcoming plans for SNKRDUNK that you can reveal to our readers?

The selling function on our app has not been developed yet. We are currently working on this feature, so that users around the world will be able to connect with each other and sell their items on our marketplace in future.


Q. SNKRDUNK International is still relatively young. What do you think is the defining feature that gives SNKRDUNK an edge over our competitors?

Japan has long been known for its rich street culture. Being a Japanese company, we are able to bring the latest on the Japanese sneaker and streetwear scene to the rest of the world in a fast manner.

Furthermore, though our company has a short history, we have gained tremendous insights and expertise (on the sneaker market) in this short period of time, and we hope to share all of these with the community.

Special thanks to Chye Seng Huat Hardware for providing the shoot location.

LineFor more on SNKRDUNK and our processes:

Is SNKRDUNK Legit & Authentic?

SNKRDUNK’s Shipping Policy

SNKRDUNK’s Authentication Process