Sneaker boutique Concepts opened in 1996, solidly ahead of the massive sneaker boom of the early ’00s, and has remained ahead of the curve ever since. From a small space in Cambridge, Massachusetts, owners Deon Point and Tarek Hassan sell everything from Adidas to Saint Laurent Paris. Successful as they have been in Beantown, they’re hoping to make it in the Big Apple. That’s one reason why they’re opening a new store in New York, the other being that their latest New Balance collaboration, dubbed the 997 “Rosé” is also set to drop on Saturday. The pink suede and 3M sneaker is inspired by the high-end summertime settings of Martha’s Vineyard, and likely a little bit by the recent influx of young men who’ve taken to drinking rosé over Bud on weekends
Contrary to their focus on diversity in the Boston store, Concepts NYC will only sell one sneaker at a time, which will be given the royal treatment. So how will the space be merchandised once the sneaker sells out? With a minimal selection of other kicks to fill the void, as well as their recently revamped in-house line consisting of pared-down shirt-jackets, graphic hoodies, chinos, and various collaborative efforts. We spoke with Deon about the new store, the new New Balance, and how the sneaker business changed over the past eighteen years.
What’s the, no pun intended, concept behind the New Balance 997?
Well everything in the shoe is made in America, with premium suede and 3M details. We talk to the guys in the factory in Maine and they ask us, like, “People are going to line up for these?” Like, they can’t believe it. But they take so much pride in the products they make. As for the idea behind it, we knew we couldn’t just do another Boston or Freedom Trail inspired sneaker, which we have done in the past. We wanted to kind of jump into a whole new realm, which I think we achieved with the best suede we could find and an embossed croc skin 3M. They come with three different laces: white, rose, and reflective 3M. Even the box we did just has a little extra in it, with an embossed croc skin and rose-colored decal. We do that because we want our box to have a special place, some real estate, in someone’s closet.
We’ve been ready for quite some time. We gave our due diligence to finding a space that would reflect who we are. Previously it wasn’t matching up with the timing. So when we had the opportunity to do something here finally, we already knew we really wanted to. We felt though Cambridge is amazing, and there’s a lot of history there, there’s just nothing like New York. We wanted to make sure we did it the right way, because we know we couldn’t just say, “We’re from Boston. Come to our store!” and plant a flag.