Get ready to pitch your tents, Sneakerheads: Melbourne has a new store to camp out at overnight. Subtype – the sneaker and fashion retailer once based in Sydney – has opened a combined gallery and sneaker concept store on Russell Street – a cavernous space that previously housed Bodhi and Ride’s spin and Pilates classes.
Melbourne creative studio Noise Noise Noise designed the new space, which includes sleek, ceiling-high, backlit perspex shelves filled with colourful sneakers and minimal metal bars housing clothing lines exclusive to the store.
On the shelves you’ll find Aussie-exclusive sneaker releases, like the New Balance 997 and New Balance Test Run. Special drops of Kanye West’s Yeezy footwear come through the store too, although they sell out on the spot. Hanging from the racks are a number of Australian exclusive clothing brands like South Korean label Ader Error – known for its oversized tailored coats mixed with colourful casual wear – and French street wear label Drôle de Monsieur.
Hidden behind the airy, industrial floorspace is a secret door – open it and you’ll find an underground gallery space for art show pop-ups and future product launches.
“We wanted to create an area for storytelling and activations … creating a space that people want to engage with, explore,” says Subtype retail band manager John Pace. “We [also] wanted to put a focus on user-generated content. Those little touches create a juxtaposition between art and retail.”
Those “Instagrammable” touches that Pace mentions include installations such as hypercolour seating that appears black, but turns into an oil-slick rainbow through your viewfinder when you take a photo.
Using Instagram-friendly design to increase foot traffic is nothing new – but Subtype is backing the concept up with work by local artists and video-art displays throughout the store.
“It’s putting the focus on storytelling. Giving people a reason to come and visit – and giving them a reason to come back,” says Pace. “They can relate to us on a cultural level, more than just a product and materialistic level.”
Subtype describes the new store as a “PHY-GITAL” space, one that brings online product releases Australians rarely get their hands on IRL into an art-driven space where they can actually look and touch.
If it sounds intimidating, it’s not. Pace seems genuinely passionate about Subtype becoming a welcoming environment that can foster a community that goes beyond the traditional sneakerhead. The team at Subtype doesn’t discriminate between casual “dad sneaker” lovers, and those tracking the 2020 Air Jordan release schedule.
“[Subtype] has to be a friendly, welcoming space. We’ve put so much emphasis on having a broad spectrum. We do have Ader jackets going into the thousands. Then we do have entry level products … like a $130 sneaker.”
The Basement, 118 Russell Street, Melbourne
(03) 9650 8393
Mon to Thu 10am–6pm
This article was updated on August 8, 2019.