An Interview with: Hikmet Sugoer of Solebox
You might have seen us down at Sneaks & Peaks in Birmingham earlier this month, you might have seen our video from the event, and you might have even read our piece on the heritage of sneakers. Today though, we’re taking you across the pond, and then some, to meet Hikmet Sugoer, one half of Solebox, the world-renowned sneaker store based in Berlin, Germany.
Solebox has been inspiring and providing sneakerheads with the finest kicks since 2002. The reason for the success is simple; love and care for the product. The love and care from the guys at Solebox is the reason they are responsible for so many top quality collaborations within the tightly bound sneaker community.
We had a chat with Hikmet to talk about the history, collaborations and the store itself.
So Hikmet, great to talk to you today! How are you doing? Keeping busy?
Hi Jack, at the moment we are mad busy. We’ve got lots of projects for 2014 and the upcoming Solemart is taking a lot of time.
To the sneaker community you need no introduction, but for those who are unaware, could you tell us how and when the opportunity to open Solebox happened?
I opened the store ten years ago with my brother Suekret. Our aim at the time was to open a shop from sneaker lovers to sneaker lovers. Seems it worked.
At what age were you when sneakers became a big part of your life, can you remember the first pair you ever bought for yourself?
All the passion started as a kid. I think I was around 12. My first Nikes were a runner: Nike Zero. And my first Adis were Sambas, and for Puma I had some Top Winners.
Sneakers, like most of fashion, are always changing, both in style and how they are consumed. What differences have you seen since Solebox has been open?
To be honest, not much has changed. Companies are doing a lot of retros now, although there are some innovations out there. Fashion has always been periodically interested in Trainers and doing a “fashion sneaker”. But a big difference is the demand today; there is such a big output of various styles and so many new shops opening up.
During Kolekto’s 12 active months the Yeezy II’s and more recently Adidas x Bape x UNDFTD have been major releases, what has been your sneaker highlight over the past 12 months?
Besides the Yeezys and the Air Max our own collaborations were important for us. Especially the likes of Supra, Reebok and Saucony…
Solebox can boast a wealth of brand variety including Saucony, Puma, Reebok and New Balance how important is it that the store offers these options rather than just stocking high volume on two or three core brands.
It is like a shareholder portfolio. It is a safe portfolio. ; ) And we love all brands. We are not a monolabel store, so why not show all brands?
Solebox as a company has also been responsible for many collaborations over the years, the Reebok Omnizone being a personal highlight, what has been your best experience when collaborating with these brands?
The most exciting project for us was the Pump 20 Summit. 20 retailers around the globe were invited to the HQ of Reebok. It was a great honor to be invited, having a company tour and talking to all the people who are behind the scenes. We’d like to thank Reebok for this project.
Whenever we talk to stores or designers they always mention the importance of an online presence – how has the role of blogs and online stores changed how the sneaker game is consumed?
We always focus on in-store sales. The reason is simple: a product has to be touched; you need to feel the product in real before you buy it. Pictures can be misleading, the image might be bad or maybe even too good. Reality does not lie.
BUT without online blogs we would not be so popular. They helped a lot. So thank you to Hypebeast, Highsnobiety, Sneakerfreaker, Freshnessmag, SlamXHype, NiceKicks, SneakerNews, Complex and all others who helped. Sorry if I forgot to mention all.
The UK streetwear style is changing dramatically from year to year with brands in and out of fashion at an incredibly quick turnover rate, how would you describe the German streetwear over the past 12 months? Does it vary from when Solebox was initially open 11 years ago?
To be honest we don’t really care about trends. We do what we like. We do not look too much to the left or the right or behind. We look forward.
Many designers or stores look to Berlin as inspiration and many new sneaker stores look to yourselves as the benchmark, who and what was your inspiration when the store was first opened and do you still look elsewhere for inspiration?
I feel honored to hear that. I think what’s really important for the market is that stores are doing their own thing and trying to find new ideas. Otherwise the market is full with the same. Our inspiration was taken from NY, Tokyo and London. The big ones that inspired us: Alife, Nort, Supreme, DQM, HUF, Foot Patrol, Atmos, Mita and others.
In many cases fashion is interlinked with film, music and art. So how do these areas influence your store?
I grew up with HipHop, RnB, Soul and Jazz. Music wise, Curtis Mayfield is my time..
Now for the future! What plans do you have to take your company forward? Are there any more big collaborations we can be excited to see?
Hopefully we will have further good projects like in the past. We love what we do and are thankful for what’s given to us. Hope to talk soon about new projects. Thank You
You can check out the online store for solebox at www.solebox.com