Wander down Temperance Lane and you’ll spy a monochromatic poster with some graphic vectors and a single logo; Sneakerboy. Wander past graffiti and empty garbage bins and you’ll see a tunnel-like entrance, neon lights and the soft throb of hip hop.
“It’s great isn’t it?” says Chris Kyvetos, Sneakerboy’s founder. “I mean, this space didn’t even exist. It was a car park. That entrance was a concrete wall and we knocked it down completely.”
Kyvetos, the former creative director at Harrolds, rarely lets things like concrete walls get in the way of his vision. There were plenty of obstacles when he dreamt up Sneakerboy – would customers go to a shop just to try things on? Would they be comfortable serving themselves through iPads or their own phones and walking out with no paperwork, while their purchases arrived in the mail at a later date? Would they get it?
“There has been so little resistance,” Kyvetos told us. “People are so used to shopping online and to the ease of that. What’s the essence of a physical retail store? Tangibility, touch and feel, trying things on. When you add the efficiency of an online store you get Sneakerboy.”
Sneakerboy’s vision of luxury commerce is at first quite shocking. The physical retail store exists almost like an art gallery. There is one pair of every style in every size that can be tried on, and your purchase is shipped to you instead of you taking it home on the day. Sneakerboy’s range of high-end men’s streetwear – womenswear is on the way – is the best of the best, from Balmain and Givenchy to Hedi Slimane, Marc Jacobs and Christopher Kane. Several pieces are exclusives, or are unique collaborations between Sneakerboy and the brands. The result is an authenticity of aesthetic which, when it comes to streetwear, is all-important.
“This is a new customer, a new process, and no luxury multi-brand retailer has captured this from the beginning,” Kyvetos says. “We are built for it.”