Stealth Retail: Concepts' Sneakerhead Pop-Ups, NY
Specialising in rare and emerging street and skatewear brands, Massachusetts-based retailer Concepts has traded on its underground brand DNA and 'sneakerhead' culture with two exclusive pop-ups at its New York store.
For the January launch of its 8-Ball running shoe collaboration with Japanese sports brand Asics, the company built a wooden 'shed' installation covered in fly posters and graffiti outside the front window, which acted as a set for clandestine transactions.
For one day only, visitors were permitted entry one at a time by a bouncer. They could then converse with a vendor concealed behind the wall to purchase the shoes, which appeared in a hidden drawer that emerged from the wall. Adding an extra layer of secrecy (thus denoting exclusivity), the shoes were packaged in a custom box wrapped in duct tape, with handwritten product details.
This initial pop-up has since been followed by the February 7 launch of Concepts' limited edition 997 luxury shoes, which are made in the US in collaboration with Boston-based athletic brand New Balance (see also the Value of Made In). To celebrate the launch, Concepts created a pop-up with a vibrant orange interior, complete with basketball hoop and orange suede basketballs, as well as devising a distinctly luxurious high-spec finish orange shoebox – also echoing the main colour of the shoe.
For more on the upsurge of innovative retail from streetwear brands, see Retail Resale: Air Jordan, Sports-Luxe: Kith x Snarkitecture, Art Basel Miami 2014: Branded Spaces, Element Shop Soaks Up Skate Culture and House of Vans: London. Also look out for our report Athleisure Engagement Strategies, publishing in March 2015.