To say that a group of guys from Boston is doing the most interesting things in New York City's sneaker scene right now might sound blasphemous, but it's not far from the truth. Since opening its revolving storefront in November, the shop, which was first opened in Cambridge, Mass., in 1996, has completely changed its retail space for each sneaker collaboration it's done.
It's cool that we can provide an experience and fulfill a storyline — deon point
There's been a Champagne-themed store for its New Balance 997 "Rosé," and an abandoned home look for the "8-Ball" collaboration with ASICS on the Gel-Lyte V. Now Concepts has another collab with ASICS, this time on the Gel-Lyte III, and the inspiration is quite revolutionary. Concepts is taking it back to 1773 and celebrating the Boston Tea Party with its latest project.
Such an obvious inspiration is something that Concepts usually stays away from, which makes this sneaker even more surprising. "As a Boston native, I never wanted to do something like a Tea Party sneaker," Deon Point, Concepts buyer and store manager, says. "We liked what the Minutemen represented as opposed to how strong the British forces were. They were just regular men. It's like a David vs. Goliath-type story, and that's what attracted us to it."
The sneaker itself is red, white, and blue, and has contrasting Tiger stripes — one's gold and the other's silver. The color scheme, quite plainly, plays off uniforms from the Revolutionary war. But there's a deeper story lying beneath the surface. Although Concepts is viewed as one of the most innovative collaborators in the industry, it's not able to fully express its themes with each sneaker the shop takes on. "People need to understand that we don’t have 100 percent creative freedom to explore projects the way we want," Point says."We are held by guidelines that we have to abide by, and it will limit the story that we can tell to the public. Even something as simple as this — we wanted it to be a certain name and inspiration, but we were told that couldn't happen. Now it's limited to an 'American Revolution.'"
The store this time around is ripped from the Boston Tea Party. A wooden walk way runs through the center of the space, while tea crates seem to be floating in a water scene. There's also a huge bow of a ship protruding from the wall. If Point had things his way, there would have been a much a different setup. "When we first had the idea of this store design, I was like, 'Let’s call up Lipton and see if they’ll fill the store with tea and kids can swim through sharks to get their shoes," Point jokingly says.
What's made each Concepts collaboration so intriguing this year is a mixture of great-looking sneakers and how each store design will look. In an age where releases are sometimes online-only, how it feels to shop in a physical store can be lost. And that's something that Point recognizes. "It's just so easy to sit at home and shop online," he says. "It's cool that we can provide an experience and fulfill a storyline that these kids can explain to their grandparents and their mom while they wait in line for two days."
This also isn't the first time that Concepts has done a Gel-Lyte III, either. 2013 saw the shop do the "Three Lies," a literal take on the John Harvard statue that's only a stone's throw from its Brattle Street location in Cambridge. But, personally, Point is a bigger fan of this upcoming work than the prior collab. "I'll wear these all-year round," he says. "I'll never wear the Three Lies, and [Concepts] designed them. I love white, red, and navy — reminiscent of the American flag — so its always good when we can use those colors."
Lines will surely ensue for the Concepts x ASICS Gel-Lyte III, which is pegged to the silhouette's 25th anniversary this year. "ASICS has done an amazing job not only building up their brand but also paying homage to their consumer," Point applauds.
And this isn't the end of the road for these revolving pop-up shops. Point hopes to keep the excitement rolling in 2015, and hopes to have his brand's "energy level beyond an ear-shattering decibel."
He can't say what's going to happen just yet, but get ready for the Fourth of July. There will also be a departure from the shop's Massachusetts-heavy themes, and Point says, "We’re doing New York-based sneakers, and we’ll enlighten New York natives to their own heritage. There is one particular project that we did that we dug around for months on. When people see that they’ll be pretty upset with themselves that they didn’t know that about their own city."
As for now, expect this current collaboration to release on May 2. The retail price will be $189.