OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer

Definition updated on November 2023

What is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and how does it fit into the supply chain?

An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) refers to a company that produces parts, components, or products that are used in the final assembly of another company's finished product. In the sneaker world, an OEM might make specific parts of a shoe, like the sole, laces, or insoles, which a sneaker brand then assembles into the final product. Sometimes, the term "OEM" is also used to describe companies that manufacture products, including sneakers, under another company's brand name. For example, a company might design a sneaker and then contract with an OEM to produce the actual shoes, which are then sold under the original company's brand. Sneaker enthusiasts and resellers may come across OEM versions of popular shoes, which can be identical in design but might differ in quality, craftsmanship, or materials used. It's essential to distinguish between genuine brand releases and OEM versions to ensure authenticity, especially in the reselling market. Authenticity is paramount in sneaker reselling, and understanding the distinction between OEM and original brand products helps in ensuring that buyers receive genuine products. In essence, while OEMs play a crucial role in the production process, in the sneaker resell market, the term is also a cautionary note to be aware of the origin and authenticity of the products being purchased or sold.

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