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Solebox: Berlin’s sneaker boutique

Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010, 10:49 AM / Berlin, Germany



During the first half of the last century, two German brothers changed the sportswear industry forever, with Adolf 'Adi' Dassler forming Adidas, and Rudolf Dassler starting rival company Puma soon after. But while these footwear founders went their separate ways, two latter-day German siblings, Hikmet and Suekret Sugoer, have instead chosen to nurture their mutual love of sneakers together. The result is the renowned ’sneaker and lifestyle’ emporium, Solebox.

Tucked away off Berlin’s grand boulevard, Kurfürstendamm, the boutique opened in 2003 and has since gained a reputation as the holy grail of sneaker stores. There are shoes by aforementioned Adidas and Puma, as well as New Balance, Lacoste, Saucony, Onitsuka Tiger, Asics, Kiks Tyo and Reebok. And while the focus is on footwear, there’s also a selection of streetwear apparel, accessories and magazines on offer, including the ever-popular print publication Sneaker Freaker.

For non-Berliners, Solebox products can be purchased via their sophisticated webstore, which has a dedicated following from sneaker devotees around the globe. In addition to the boutique and webstore, the Sugoer siblings also created an online sneaker auction site, Solemart, to combat counterfeit lines found on larger auction sites. Solemart is a badge of online authenticity, proof for sneaker enthusiasts that their web purchase is the real deal.

Solebox also issues special edition shoes designed in conjunction with key footwear brands, a strategy that differentiates it from other sneaker retailers. Previously, the ‘Solebrothers’ have created limited edition kicks such as the Solebox x New Balance 1500 Finals Pack in 2009, and the Solebox x Reebok Pump Omni Zone in 2010. December 11th marks the latest in the list of covetable collaborations – to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Adidas’s ubiquitous running shoe, the Equipment Support, Solebox will launch the limited edition Adidas Equipment Support Solebox.

We chatted with Hikmet about what sparked his sneaker obsession, and the latest Solebox collaboration.

TribaSpace: Why did you and your brother, Suekret, create Solebox? How did your passion for sneakers begin?
Hikmet Sugoer: I think, like many things, it all started as a kid. Influenced through hip hop music, I wanted to have the trainers of EPMD, Public Enemy, Run DMC, LL Cool J, NWA, Beastie Boys, etc. Then I started to realise that this is not an easy task. So it seems the need of trainers back in the day influenced my life today. We opened Solebox to feed our own interest, similarly to a DJ who runs a record shop. Good taste and selection of products, but usually zero sales, haha... But with Solebox we had big luck. It worked out.

What do you look for when choosing sneakers to stock?
We choose what we like. We do not think too much, we just buy what we like, and it seems our customers like our selection too.

What role do tradeshows play in your buying process?
HS: For us, a tradeshow is good to meet people of the industry who we do not see daily. People we work with worldwide are coming together; we do not really use tradeshows for buying.

You regularly engage directly with your customers via social media. How does this immediate line of communication with your customers affect your business?
This is really important for us! Without our customers we are nothing. We love to know what the needs and thoughts are out there, so we can handle and satisfy our customers well. By the way, our customers prefer instore buying, but are forced to buy online sometimes, if the price is better.

Solebox has really catered to a dedicated market. What percentage of online customers are based outside of Germany/Europe?
HS: We have customers from all over the world – many of them are even more than customers for us, they are friends and a part of Solebox. However, as a result of the strong Euro we have lost many non-European buyers.

What inspired you to create the sneaker swap event Solemart?
The idea behind Solemart is to give something back to the community. The "hobby" to collect trainers is expensive – so many collectors are selling or swapping, sometimes they have doubles or they just need money to pay the bills. Therefore we launched Solemart: a place to meet people who have the same passion, and a marketplace where you can personally trade and sell your trainers. 
We even offer companies to link to Solemart and get a direct link to the target group. What is easier for a company to talk to the people who are buying their products?
 Thank you to everybody who supported our idea of Solemart. Watch out for the next one and be part of it.

Solebox have an upcoming release of a special collaboration with Adidas. What can you tell us about the new product?
We worked with Adidas on the project called ‘Then&Now’ – a classic running shoe and a modern running shoe. The modern running shoe, the Adizero Aegis 2, was released a month ago and has already sold out. The follow, the Equipment Support, is the "Then" part, which will be released on Saturday the 11th of December.

Solebox
Nürnbergerstrasse 16
10789 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0) 30 91206690
Fax : +49 (0) 30 91206690
E-Mail : info(at)solebox.de
Mon-Sat: 12:00-20:00

Melisa Gray-Ward | TribaSpace

Interested in reading more stories like this? Keep an eye on the TribaSpace Magazine:

Product Groups: Ready-to-Wear, Footwear, Streetwear, Sportswear, Buying, Casual Wear
Markets: Men's

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