An interview with Spain’s Foot District
The sneaker retail experience is now a unique part of sneaker culture. Back in the day, the word retail simply stood for that price you needed to pay to be sure you were getting an original product.
Nowadays, a sneaker store is incapable of surviving without having one of two things: a massive number of stores or its own take on the shopping experience. Fortunately for Madrid-based sneaker store Foot District, they’ve got this whole uniqueness thing figured out.
Having recently opened an impressive location in Madrid, the team of sales reps and sneaker nerd are determined to turn sneaker shopping into something more than a walk-in-walk-out purchase. It’s all about the accompanying visuals, the experience.
As part of our ‘Stories of Stores’ feature, we were fortunate enough to speak with Diego Martinez, one of Foot District’s founders, about the store’s origins and how it plans to tackle the industry’s future.
-What is Foot District’s story? How did it all come about?
As many things in life, the idea started when while living abroad. I lived in London some years and I got fascinated by the sneaker scene there. Then I got back to Spain, I met Nacho, my first partner.
We started Foot District 5 years ago. We both have digital and marketing backgrounds so we took the online way. We then partnered with José and Jimmy, two guys with 20+ years of experience in retail.
After some time with just online presence, we realized we needed a retail location that explained our concept as a brand and served as a meeting point for our customers
-What is it about Madrid that makes it a unique community of sneakerheads? How do you incorporate that into the Foot District retail experience?
If I had to say something, I would say there is so much variety of styles, silhouettes, and brands. There is no a preferred brand. We have tried to reflect this diversity in the space we give to each brand in the store.
-What part of sneaker purchasing do you think retailers underrate in general? Is there something subtle that stores miss out on?
Online and physical sneaker purchasing are different but share the idea of discovering. If we look at the online world, I see how stores are focusing on content to introduce the products they sell to the customers.
Maybe the customer needs to find out what makes this shoe unique and different before purchasing. In the offline world, it is the same thing, the customers drop by the store and the staff tells him about this new release that drops soon.
-The new store in Madrid is absolutely gorgeous. Congrats! Could you tell me a little about the process behind the design? What inspired you?
The process took so much time to see the light since we didn’t want to do something usual. The design process started asking ourselves what we were and how we could reflect that in a retail space.
We thought about our history, how we were born in the digital world and how to define that transition. Another point was our own name and the word district.
The whole idea of the space is to imagine a premium district, our district. When you know that, you see the point of 300 cubes representing an urban grid, metallic bricks, polished fences, a Jordan Room as a tribute to a basketball court.
The main material of the store – ultra-thin cement – and the color of the store takes you to a district as well.
-Having spent so much time in the footwear industry, is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?
When we started we had never worked with footwear brands so there were things we didn’t know back then. We didn’t have experience in retail so there were decisions that we should have taken before. You learn step by step…
-What do you think is the future of sneaker stores? Can retailers simply focus on the shoes they sell? Or will they need to get more creative about the retail experience?
Since there is so much competition, stores will have to offer a unique customer experience, something that customers cannot forget about. That is our intention with the experience in our physical store.
Another transition that will be very important for stores is the one from stores to brands. It will not only be important the shoes you sell – short term – but how you do it and the brand you create with that – long-term thinking.
My view is that only the stores that can create a brand will survive.
-One question that comes up quite a bit is how sneaker stores decided what to stock, Does it boil down to what’s hyped and popular/ expected to sell out or is there something deeper there?
I imagine a world in which stores decide what to buy based on big data. Nowadays, it is more of a gut thing – call it an experience – and hype obviously.
We obviously use data from last season. But, but I imagine a system that lets me decide what to buy based on sellouts, buzz and so on…
Check out Foot District online now.