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Brief Updated: 11 Feb 2015

Stealth Retail: Concepts' Sneakerhead Pop-Ups, NY

Concepts pop-up in New York

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 value of discreet modes of selling, especially for the luxury sector, see Inconspicuous Consumption, part of The Austerity Opportunity Macro Trend.

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.