SoleStory is a new specialist sneaker boutique that has just opened up on Regeringsgatan. It stocks all the classic brands from Nike to New Balance. In addition to the basic job of selling shoes, the store also has a number of additional concepts and services, from Solemates to Solesquad. We caught up with founder and ‘sneakerologist’ Pontus Frivold to find out all about it.
So you said that you have always wanted to open up a shoe store for as long as you can remember. So what was is that initially attracted you to shoe and sneaker culture?
Well, I’ve been a basketball player and coach since I was six years old, and sneakers have always been a big part of basketball culture. That’s how I got into sneakers, and I never got out [laughs]. I kind of like the process of what goes in to creating a shoe, and how different shoes can be depending on brands and styles. Depending on whether a shoe is made for running, hiking, walking or basketball, they’re all made in a different way. T – Shirts can generally be worn for anything, but here you have specific products for specific things.
In addition to the basic, ‘customer walks in, buys shoe, walks out’, what additional stuff do you have at this store for your customers?
I want to create more sneaker nerds. I myself am a sneaker nerd, which used to be regarded as a bad thing but now I think is a good thing. More and more people are into sneakers, and we want to give more information to the customers so they can know more about the shoe and what we think is important for them to know, not just what the brands want them to know. They can learn something about the product, about its history. Not every customer is going to be interested in that information but for those that are I think it’s good for them.
And tell us a little more about these additional concepts, like Solemates and Solesquad?
Solesquad are twelve basketball players, six men and six women. They’re all playing at the highest level in Europe, and now two are in WNBA. We use them as product testers, and they give us a lot of feedback on what models they like and what they don’t like. We also see them as our brand ambassadors, we want them to spread the word about who we are and what we do. We get a great response from them and also from their followers and fans who like them and want to be like them. It’s a really good partnership for us, and I think they players like getting new shoes pretty often too. Solemates is our customer club, where you collect points every time you buy. There are four different levels and the higher your level the more perks you get. They could be early releases on special products, discounts, t-shirts or socks. We’re also building a CRM system now where if your size is size 10, and we get a size ten in a shoe that we know that you like we can e-mail you directly.
One final question. What do you think it is about sneakers that have made them such a popular fashion and cultural item for so long?
Well, because they’re the most important thing in the world! Well, I think it’s because the comfort level is so high. The fashionable aspect of them is that they were a trend, and now they’ve become standard, in a way. It’s not unusual anymore to see sneakers in a club, or at a really nice restaurant, when a couple of years ago you wouldn’t even have gotten in wearing sneakers. It’s also that people like to express their style and with sneakers you have so many different options, between colours and materials, that it’s a great way to do that.