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Brief Published: 9 Nov 2018

Selfridges Commits to Skate Culture with In-Store Bowl

Selfridges The Bowl

British department store Selfridges’ new designer streetwear department includes a purpose-built skateboarding bowl – a long-term proposition devised to push its focus on street and skate culture beyond retail-industry bandwagoning.

The luxury sector’s love-in with streetwear is no secret; high-end streetwear drove a 5% increase in global sales of luxury goods last year (ET Brand Equity, 2017), while offering a critical lifeline to the younger consumers it craves. Selfridges’ concept – a tight yet full-scale wooden bowl in the corner of the new room – marks an interesting iteration of the trend, anchored in attracting and supporting grass-roots fans as a route to credibility. 

Open to the public, it’s currently hosting skate sessions bookable via Selfridges’ e-commerce site, and is attracting numerous seasoned pros – partly due to its rarity as an indoor space. This strategic lure, based on social advocacy, echoes the temporary transformation of its Ultralounge events area into a live music venue in 2017, in response to London’s dwindling number of live-gig spaces. However, the bowl is set to run indefinitely.

There will also be walk-in taster sessions and events orchestrated by a team of skate community insiders, including London-based New Zealand skater Bryce Campbell – formerly owner of Parlour Skate Store. He suggests the concept’s integrity comes from its mission “to help grow scenes that don’t yet have a major platform, like girls’ skating”. He also moots “niche stuff, introducing people on the peripheries who will widen the appeal”, plus brand-led concepts.

Brands range from Brixton’s Baddest Skateshop – a benchmark label for the London scene – to fashion-focused heavyweights including Virgil Abloh’s Off-White as well as Stüssy, Obey, Transfer and Blondey. The bowl was created by London-based Brinkworth Design and British ramp builders FourOneFour.

See also Harnessing the Hype (part of Sneakerheads Unboxed) and Counter Commerce in our just published Look Ahead 2019: Retail.