Vancouver-based footwear line Native Shoes has unveiled its first physical retail concept at 14 Water Street. It officially opens its doors to the public on Thursday (December 14).
After a two-month construction period, the bright, open-concept store has been transformed to showcase Native’s full line of men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes, which includes slip-ons, sneakers, and boots. Many of the products are constructed from a lightweight material called EVA—short for ethylene-vinyl acetate—which is shock-absorbent, waterproof, and odor-resistant. All are vegan or “beast free”, which the company defines as using no animal hair or hide in its products.
Wood and exposed pipes have been swapped out for a clean, all-white look that features modular display units, a traditional plywood pegboard, and a living and breathing moss wall constructed from plants that have been foraged within an 80-kilometre radius of the store. Benches, meanwhile, are topped with multi-hued cushion tiles made from ground-up Native shoes. (Very eco-chic.)
There’s even a “gumball machine” installation that exhibits the company’s bestselling Jefferson—a perforated slip-on that vaguely resembles the silhouette of a Chuck Taylor low top—wherein the kicks have been removed from their boxes, banded together, and then dropped into tall, transparent cases much like those seen at bulk candy stores. Michael Belgue, Native’s creative director, said he was inspired by Karameller, a Swedish sweets shop in Yaletown.
“It’s this really fun, fantastical thing,” he explains during a media tour of the store today (December 13). “We wanted to take that idea and make this sort of candy dispenser for the Jefferson.”
The store’s playful feel is carried through to the back, where an assortment of birch wood boxes—some covered in chalkboard paint or containing toys—serves as a play area for kids. Up front, Vancouverites will be able to get their hands on exclusive, limited-edition releases like the Jefferson 2.0 high top, which looks like a lace-up but is actually a slip-on shoe.
The kicks won’t be widely available until next year, but keen shoppers can nab pairsat the Water Street store while quantities last. With the opening of the store, “we’ll be able to continually do projects like that and do exclusives and really small drops”, says Belgue.
Other collaborations Native has in the works include a bowtie-decorated sneaker and slide with local swimwear designer Beth Richards and an EVA creeper—a platform shoe popularized by punk rockers in the ’70s—with U.K.–based manufacturer George Cox. Both collections are slated for 2018 releases.
Visitors to the new Native will be able to get a first look at these kicks, along with the company’s year-round selection of flexible boat shoes, knit sneakers, ultra-comfy d’Orsay flats, and more. “We really want it to be an interactive process where we’re learning from our customers, where they’re getting to…see new things from us as well as experience the full breadth of the collection,” explains Belgue.
Check out the images below for a peek at the first-ever Native store before it opens tomorrow (December 14).