With a growing international sneakerhead community comes the evolution. Around the world, there’s a demand for new infrastructure to provide after-sales services for these objects of wearable culture. Enter the newly designed Jason Markk space by Brinkworth Design and Wilson Brothers in Soho. Cultural collateral – built in no small part from sneakers’ association with, and endorsement from, hip-hop and sports superstars – has positioned the once strictly casual footwear for a departure from the niche. It seems as though every luxury fashion brand is trying their hand at the rubber-soled designs, and in 2016 Forbes detailed the impact of millennial purchasing power in the market, noting expectations for the global sports footwear industry to reach over US$220 billion by 2020. The development in material technology happening in the sportswear industry has even spurred cross-disciplinary collaborations such as Rotterdam-based design studio Odd Matter creating a chair using Reebok’s new Flexweave material.
Just over a decade ago, Jason Markk began offering premium cleaning products for Type-A collectors to care for their precious kicks. The next step was the world’s first drop-off sneaker care service, located in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo district and now expanded to London. With the help of architectural team Wilson Brothers, London and New York-based studio Brinkworth Design created a space with functionality and service as its focus. The new location is a compact service area, tiled in white louvered metal from which shelving and storage containers can be hung. The well-known style of Jason Markk LA has been maintained, with use of birch plywood in the counter and display cases as well as the cubby holes for shoe storage. Window-backed shelving is utilized as a product display area for the various cleaning solutions and packages.
While Jason Markk is an online-first retailer, the space is neither glossy with digital surfaces nor responsive to customization and individual style preferences. Instead, the interior harks to the lineage of cobblers and traditional shoe repair shops, where the customer is invited into a workshop – a place of craftsmanship where the objects are the focus. The technicians wear Jason Markk-branded Dickies overalls, a visual connection to the tradesmen’s workwear of other necessary service industries. The London flagship is a gesture of respect – not to the customer for her own sake, but to today’s sneakerhead community and culture.