Shoe brands take a curatorial approach to displaying sneaker culture

The fever pitch of streetwear’s hype and young consumers’ interest in immersive brand museums is taken to new heights as sneaker brands elevate their exclusive offerings via artistic and experiential showcases. As the market for athletic footwear continues to grow and prosper (generating $19.6 billion in sales in 2017), brands continue to explore new ways to create excitement around obtaining and showcasing luxury sneakers.


Nike and Footlocker teamed up to launch Sneakeasy, the clandestine sneaker speakeasy and pop up located inside a former bank in NYC for little more than a week in November 2017. Sneakerheads were notified about the pop up’s exclusive Jordan brand and Nike offerings, along with surprise drops and events, via both brands’ social media, Nike’s SNKRS app, and Foot Locker’s VIP loyalty program. The event was an extension of Nike’s recent commitment to a “shift from undifferentiated retail channels to more direct-to-consumer measures” designed to emphasize the aspirational aspect of their products.


Vancouver-based sneaker brand Six Hundred Four, whose limited edition sneakers are created from commissioned artworks, retails its product in a physical space that is both shoe store and art gallery—a concept that could be tough to replicate on an e-commerce platform. The brand is now launching the world’s first VR sneaker store to bridge its speciality brick-and-mortar offering with user-friendly virtual reality tech for its mobile-first target demographic. Customers are now able to explore a 3D replica of the art gallery via their screens without needing to rely on a headset, removing this barrier to entry that young consumers feel is particularly obstructive.


Sneaker resale app GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) launched a three-month pop up exhibit called The Greatest in Culver City, CA from October through December of last year. The Greatest’s rotating exhibits celebrated regional sneaker culture with a tightly curated display of industry-defining shoe styles as well as guest panels from beloved icons and industry experts in the streetwear community. As a marketing and retail strategy The Greatest successfully combined Gen Z’s emphasis on the value on the resale community combined with the social cache of experiential, interactive, and highly Instagrammable pop ups.