With over 100 years of history and a shoe known around the world, it may seem surprising that the Converse store opening today in NYC is only the second brick-and-mortar shop for the iconic brand. Following the success of its first location on Boston’s Newbury Street, Converse is taking their wholesale and online empire to SoHo, with a sizable shop dedicated both to the city itself and Converse’s athletic heritage all with a punk rock twist.
As explained by Dave Powers, Vice President of Global Retail for Converse, the store is directed at kids aged 18-22 that enjoy wearing a simple outfit comprised of Chuck Taylors, jeans and a plaid shirt. While this sounds similar to the typical ensemble adorning the Abercrombie crowd, Powers ensures us that the Converse shop is actually the opposite to uniform style. Powers states simply, “we don’t need anyone telling us how to dress.” The Converse store reflects this, with its relaxed atmosphere, no-frills merchandising (there’s even an express pick-up window for shoe shoppers who already know their size) and a customization center complete with “maestros” who are eager to help patrons put their name and personal style on shoes, totes and tees.
The store is home to the largest selection of Converse kicks in the world, from the 648 pairs of red, white and blue Chuck Taylors making up the American flag wall installation (taken from the Berlin Bread and Butter show) to its extensive showcase of premium brand collaborations, NYC One Stars, (Product) Red, Jack Purcells and more.The shop isn’t just for sneaker freaks though—also stocking the shelves is a brand new collection of apparel and accessories seemingly centered around various styles of denim and snug-fitting sportswear.
With so many brands drawing on their heritage as modern inspiration, the Converse store is a refreshing take on the concept; successfully acknowledging its roots and playing to them without force-feeding its customers a glorified version of its past. Reclaimed gym bleachers are a prominent design element in the store, for example. Powers also explained to CH that before they worried about decor or product the goal was to achieve the perfect store ambiance. Initially working with design firm Ideo, two years later they have done just that.