Fashion, sport, and street culture — these are the pillars that many brands and stores are built upon. Add an active lifestyle and outdoors aesthetic to this formula and you might just stumble upon something original.
You might even reach a certain peak.
For Sergey Tanin, the co-founder of Moscow’s legendary concept store FOTT (RIP), it was this concoction that led to his own PEAK, as in the Russian capital’s newest fashion-slash-outdoors concept store. To realize the project, Tanin enlisted the help of Konstantin and Alexey Mikhailov, the creators of TRAEKTORIA, which is a chain of activewear and equipment stores.
Utilitarian outdoor gear might be having a “moment,” but these aesthetics have always been a part of fashion and streetwear. PEAK’s team says they are focussed “not on fleeting trends, but on functionality, a conscious approach to buying clothes, and modern silhouettes that are appropriate both in the city and in nature.”
PEAK is not just a store but a community hub and space for self-realization. The store has a special space where exhibitions, public talks, and other culture oriented occasions will be held. A café, bar and cycling studio will begin to operate on the basement floor until the end of the year.
STORY mfg, And Wander, Snow Peak, Hyke, Arc’teryx, Patagonia, Nanamica, and Engineered Garments are just some of the renowned labels to be found inside. Shortly after the launch, we caught up with Tanin to discuss this new chapter for the Moscow retail scene.
“Style, freedom of self-expression, active lifestyle, and conscious consumption became the driving forсe of the project and inspired the founders.” Could you explain the store’s DNA in a little more depth?
For example, back in my FOTT days we included brands like Napapijri to attract mass consumers. They came to buy a jacket and were then made aware of other, more niche brands. I recall people who had come to FOTT for the likes of Napapijri only to stumble upon another world of menswear. Now I meet them and they are wearing the likes of Engineered Garments and Garbstore.
At PEAK, we don’t compromise when it comes to catering for the mass consumer. Here, you find brands in which I can see meaning and originality. Each has been meticulously chosen. For instance, some people don’t understand the presence of Paul & Shark, but it is a reference to the terrace culture which had a considerable influence on my style. Paul & Shark is also an outdoors brand — you don’t use its garments for hiking and trekking, but for sailing. Konstantin and Alexey are passionate about action sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, and generally having an active lifestyle. That also informed PEAK.
Why was now the right time for such a project? Could you imagine PEAK’s existence five years back?
We’ve just watched groups of people come into the retail space to browse through the racks, touching, and trying on the clothes. It seems to be more relevant now than if we opened five years back.
Nowadays, utilitarian outdoor clothing is growing in popularity, specifically in fashion and streetwear circles. You can see Instagram accounts like organiclab.zip and 114.index gaining big followings. Did you pay attention to this trend while working on PEAK’s concept or were you focused solely on your vision?
Mostly we focused on our intuition and taste. I got aware of accounts like organiclab about two months ago — PEAK had been already started. Before that, I still had been living in the paradigm where the main part of hype was concentrated around sneaker collabs. I never understood the hype around brands like Off-White™ and Heron Preston from an aesthetic perspective, only business. However, I can relate to outdoor brands because of their functional design, sustainable ethics, and attitude to business. Patagonia is one of the best examples.
Some people say that outdoor brands are the new streetwear. In both cases, you need to be “in the know.” Back in the day, you had to have certain knowledge about the culture and industry to be a part of the streetwear closed club. In the case of outdoors, you need to know the technologies and functional side of things.
The clothing industry is cyclical. Today in Moscow you can see many people rocking shoes like Dr.Martens and Clarks, instead of sneakers. Million-dollar corporations overfed the customer with sneakers and their overwhelming releases. People also got tired of the many meaningless brands that call themselves “streetwear.” Outdoor brands have some level of deepness, heritage, and purpose that resonate with the educated customer. Regardless, the outdoor aesthetic is not a huge trend like sneakers. It was a part of street culture. You can take, for example, streetwear back in the ‘90s, when people wore The North Face Mountain Jackets, or the 2000’s when terrace casuals in Moscow got more interested in brands like Berghaus and Fjallraven.
“This store is my personal statement about fashion” is a quote from you in the release. Can you explain it?
I want PEAK’s brands to have meaning and some sort of narrative. Design for the sake of design is not interesting for me. I have always been interested in military, sportswear, and outdoor aesthetics. Behind the functionality of such clothing also lies a story and cultural significance. Human relationships in this formula also play an important role for me. I can go to a trade show and meet a designer who will engage me with his brand in a very authentic way. It all comes together.
How did the pandemic affect the start of the project? Did you have to rethink the launch?
The idea for PEAK was born in 2019 — well before the pandemic. The Covid situation didn't hugely affect our brand list. But we didn’t launch the online and offline stores simultaneously, as had been planned. We didn’t make any compromise in terms of selection. However, financially we couldn’t pull off both online and offline. We chose to focus on the physical store. At some point we will make a proper version of the website.
You can find some brands in Moscow exclusively at PEAK. Was it hard to gain such trust? The project is new and hasn’t built a reputation which often serves as a key factor for the brand in choosing the retailer.
Many people were surprised at how we got some brands, even though we hadn’t opened yet. We really appreciate the trust from both niche brands as well as the likes of Nike. Brands assumedly trusted me based on my experience.
Physical stores are gradually changing in terms of what they mean — especially in the time of rapid growth and online retail. They become not only a place to buy clothes but also an image tool and platform for reflection of the concept and values. Did you think of PEAK’s physical store in such a way?
We used such an approach at FOTT. People saw how it was different from other usual retailers. Initially, I thought about PEAK as a conceptual platform where we would not only sell clothes but also tell a story. It is way more interesting to create some kind of community hub than just sell clothes. PEAK can give people an opportunity to speak about something. For example, we have a space specifically made for exhibitions and special occasions like lectures and public talks.
Some studies show that in uncertain times, people spend more money on things that will give them experience and pure emotions. Does PEAK have product that could fall under this category?
Absolutely! We will stock bikes and hardware for camping and hiking.
What do you have in PEAK that was missed in FOTT?
PEAK will not be part of the “sneaker game.” I became more confident in the approach that people are the most valuable commodity — not clothes. I made a decision to myself that with PEAK I will move steadily step by step. The project’s team will consist of like-minded people. Retail is an endless anxious race. I’d rather stick to a more calm and conscious approach than be stressed out 24/7 in pursuit of something not very meaningful.