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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

RSole: now there is a name for a sneaker shop

RSole was opened in 2006 and is an up-scale shoe boutique in University City, Mo. The storefront which consists of a wall of frosted glass sits on a busy street near Washington University in St. Louis. Products are displayed in a smattering of square peepholes and the door front is almost invisible. The shop caters for sneakerheads which are typically aged between 18 to 34 year old men willing to spend anywhere from $80 to more than $500 (US) a pair on footwear made by companies such as Nike, Puma and Adidas. Sneakerheads buy several pairs of shoes a year or even at a time but may rarely wear them preferring to keep them as ‘blue chip’ investments. The inspiration for the unique shop came from an experience the designer had whilst walking near her offices in lower Manhattan. She noticed a line forming on the sidewalk. Unable to see where it led, she made inquiries and learned that a crowd of shoe fanatics had waited all night for a sneaker debut. The shoe store bore no sign but as she learned later all the shoes sold out overnight. The presence of the storefront has a classic Islam appearance and at the same time reminded me of the wall on Rowan and Martin Laugh In., where literally anything can happen. The inside of the store is set out like a gallery space in black with lighting to display the shoes as works of art. In the floor are embedded LED squares to define merchandise areas as well as create an active visual environment particularly since staff can control the colour and intensity of the light. Now well established with sneakerheads the shop also attracts local celebrities, including Ted Ginn Jr. of the Miami Dolphins and hip-hop star Murphy Lee. The shop was designed by New York designers Tobin + Parnes.

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