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Highsnobiety Q&A September, 21 2012

A Conversation with Hikmet Sugoer – A Solebox Decade

Berlin sneaker store Solebox has become one of the premier premium sneaker retailers over the years – not only in Germany, but globally speaking. Through true love for the product, a great selection, many high profile product collaborations and by always being active in the tightly knit sneaker community, Solebox has managed over and over again to stand out of the crowd.

In 2012 Solebox turned 10, which is an impressive milestone in the retail business. No signs of slowing down, we talked to one of the two founding brothers, Hikmet Sugoer, about sneakers, their store, products and the Solebox decade.

Read the full interview here below.

1. I think you do not need to introduce yourself anymore. Hikmet, please tell us how you got started in the sneaker game and how/when you opened Solebox?

Trainers were always part of my life. As a kid they were not affordable for me, seems this is the reason for my situation right now. Driven by demand for sneakers I openend Solebox with my brother Suekret. We wanted to get trainers cheaper and first choice on limited releases. Seems it worked..

2. In the 10 years that Solebox has been open, a lot has changed in the sneaker world. In the core sneaker scene, what were the trends that you noticed over the last 10 years?

I think the main trends are still there: Vintage or Retro, Limited or Inline, Lifestyle or Performance, Oldskool or Newskool, etc.

But the biggest change I noticed is the massive grow in reselling of trainers.

3. In terms of design, what was your favorite period and why?

For myself it was the era of the original stuff. The time before retro. The time where the classics were made, which are now reproduced. My favorite time frame is end 80s till mid 90s.

4. Solebox opened well before the rise of the sneaker blogs. How was the market different back then and how do you think blogs and the general rise of social media changed the market? Has it been a positive development in your eyes?

I am deeply grateful to all the blogs, which pushed us over the years. Thank you!
Back to the question: The market back then was mostly filled with local products. The customers were hunting products. Today we see usually worldwide the same items. Only difference is the price. Today the people are hunting prices.

Social media and blogging is an easy and cheap way of spreading news about products. It works. It is fast. BUT at the same time it is too fast. Means todays news, is old in minutes. And it is hard to control. Blessing and curse at once. For us it is a big tool.

5. I know it must be almost impossible to answer, but what are your favorite sneakers from the last decade?

As you said, hard to answer, but all the collabs we did in the last decade are made on our favorite sneaker styles.

6. Solebox does not only carry the usual suspects (Nike, adidas), but you also carry a nice range of other brands, including Vans, Supra, Reebok, Lacoste, Saucony and others. How important is that mix for you?

These are all brands we like and many of these were part of our youth. They are alltogether one.

Businesswise it is like shares, if you have a good mix of brands/shares, then you can cover losses of other shares/brands through profits of the others.

We stay loyal to our brands we range. Sadly not every brand has the same thinking, but this is life.

And I am sure the customer loves to see all brands at one spot. Especially in times of monolabel stores around the globe.

7. Opening a well selected sneaker store is one thing, but what sets Solebox apart from most others is the wealth of collaborative product that we have seen from you over the years. What was your most memorable sneaker collaboration and release?

Sounds diplomatic, but it is the truth. All of them were great and memorable. It is hard to describe the emotions when you get your idea done on a product.

Hard to explain to see the first sample, to see the product launching. The luck that people camping for your product. Resellers raising the prices.

You travel cities and see people wearing shoes you worked on. It is a good feeling, especially if you have in mind where you come from.

But on the collaboration aspect: Reebok has done a great approach for the collab with the Pump 20 Summit. They invited my brother and me to Boston with 19 other retailers.
We had the chance to talk to Paul Litchfield (designer of the Pump). We were able to check out their material library, to see all the different leathers, laces, etc. Talk to the product team. It was a great experience to work this way. Great to see the HQ of Reebok and get a feeling of the daily business of a sportswear company. And not to forget to meet other retailers from around the globe, which we were knowing from the internet before..haha.

8. As most people know, Solebox is located in Berlin, Germany. The German sneaker scene has certainly developed over the years, how would you describe it?

The good thing on Germany is that we have a good mix of styles. So the people are going for all brands and all styles matching their needs.

In general it seems worldwide that there is a new generation of sneaker lovers growing up or maybe we are getting older..haha.

9. Let’s look into the future. How do you see Solebox develop going forward? Solemart has been a great success, now being hosted in Berlin and Paris every year. How can you still change the game you are in, keep it exciting?

XYZ Group is buying Solebox and opening worldwide Solebox branches. My brother and me spending the money with girls and Rock n Roll. And I am sure, we invite all of you guys for a huge party then. I hope our wifes do not read this..

10. Of course we are also hungry to know what you have planned for the 10th anniversary. Parties, products, etc?

We still have great projects comming up. Some for 2012 to come and some for 2013. We are happy and proud to have opened Solebox back then. Thank you all for your support!

 

Solemart, the ultimate sneaker trading event, is back this month. September 30th they open their doors. Find out all about it here.

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