Over the past few years, Foot Locker has made numerous strides to grow beyond its reputation as the go-to destination to cop your next pair of sneakers at your local mall, including investments in popular reselling app GOAT and shoe design platform Pensole Academy. The latest addition is its new incubator titled Greenhouse, an idea the company has been trying to make happen for two years.
Greenhouse will operate as a standalone thinktank and sell exclusive products through a designated app. It will also aim to provide the young crop of creatives with a platform to better express themselves.
“We're looking to empower the next generation of kids that are coming up today with amazing ideas and vision—whether that's in the product world, the content world, or whatever it is that that looks like,” Foot Locker CMO Jed Berger says.
The Greenhouse app launching this month will be home to various exclusive collaborations that will not be available anywhere else from popular designers and brands like Rhugi Villaseñor of Rhude, Public School, ALIFE, and DIY artist Nicole McLaughlin to name a few. Products will span a range of categories including apparel, footwear, and other accessories. For instance, McLaughlin has crafted bags made of repurposed vintage hats and artist Victor Solomon designed a special basketball.
“It’s really about working with the creative community to be able to unlock things that they can't do on their own for whatever reason,” Greenhouse team leader Mel Peralta tells Complex. “I think really what Greenhouse is after is being similar to our concepts team, being a part of the co-creation process at the very beginning versus by allocated product which is what retail has been for eons and centuries. It's getting in early on to co-create a product that speaks to this particular demographic, that speaks the kid that works hard.”
As a former entrepreneur himself, Peralta co-founded the watch company Flud in 2007, his goal with Greenhouse is also to provide young visionaries with the resources to aid the process‚—something he couldn’t come by as easily back in the day.
“This is what really got me hyped about [Greenhouse],” Peralta says. “There are hundreds of thousands of kids all over this world that are looking for an opportunity. We were lucky that we had New York as our background, but what if you're in some part of the world where you don't have those outlets? Greenhouse is to empower the unknown, unheralded kid, as well as to work with the leaders of culture, the leaders of streetwear and sneakers.”
Despite pivoting into other avenues of sneaker retail, Foot Locker doesn’t want to give up its original identity either. It’s simply trying to build on what it has already achieved over its 44-year history.
“I think that one of the places we are missing was probably a little bit closer to culture, new brands or creators that we probably didn't have a neat home for within our ecosystem. That perception about us being so big sometimes gets in the way of the partnerships that we want to have,” Berger says. “Being relevant and celebrating sneaker culture isn't defined by size to us. It's really not. There's a perception of Foot Locker being public and huge. We needed an entity to bridge that gap.”
Download the Greenhouse app now here.