words & interview // Nick DePaula
video production // Jotham Porzio
It's no secret that the footwear and streetwear boutique market has gone through quite a few shifts and changes the past few years. For starters, we've seen several notable shops around the globe have to close entirely, whether it's been the original Foot Patrol in London, San Francisco's beloved HUF or Toronto's heralded Goodfoot chain. With an increase of more targeted releases through Nike's own doors, a recession that has yet to fully recover and a maturing audience that no longer makes purchases based solely on the phrase "limited edition," independent stores have been forced to adapt to a new consumer climate.
In a new series dubbed "The Landscape," we'll be talking to shop owners and boutique employees alike for a look at their own unique histories, and also gather their thoughts on where this whole subculture and industry is headed.
We begin with a profile of Compound Gallery, a hybrid sneaker store and art gallery based in Portland, Oregon. After initially opening as a destination for rare Japanese art, toys and oddities in the late 1990's, founder Katsu Tanaka looked to re-direct his approach in 2003 and began offering both footwear and apparel. A Tier Zero Nike account certainly helped along the way. Now eight years later, the store stocks a host of leading brands and still blends in its Japanese heritage with a toy-filled main floor and monthly art exhibits upstairs.
The store's Footwear and Apparel Buyer Ira LaFontaine walks us through their best sellers, details their recent Nike Graphic Studio exhibit, reaffirms the fact that people aren't buying shoes with seven colors on them anymore, and offers his thoughts on the current landscape.