Thanks to a crazy Nike collaboration back in 2005, Parisian sneaker store Oqium (pronounced Opium) well and truly cemented their reputation in the minds and wallets of le internationale sneakerfreakers. What set the store apart was their unflinching dedication to the Swoosh and their premium selection of product, not to mention a vintage sneaker museum in the store's basement that had to be seen to be believed. The latest chapter of the Oqium franchise has just opened its doors in the bustling boroughs of Rotterdam where the fellas hope to satisfy a scene thirsting for knowledge. We caught up with Raju to get a look inside the Oqium den and find out just where they get their deadstock Jordans from!
Hey Raju, what a surprise to see Opium in the Netherlands! How long have you kept this little secret for?
Too long! We had been working on this project for quite a few months before we officially announced the opening. It’s the first time a world-famous international sneaker boutique has opened up in the Netherlands. A lot of sneaker heads might think that Oqium is just another sneaker store, not knowing that we have exclusive Nike and Jordan accounts. By the way, officially the name of the stores in Rotterdam, Paris and Barcelona is Oqium, but most people pronounce it as Opium!
After nine years ruling the streets of Paris, then recently with the Black store in Barcelona, what was the decision to open in Rotterdam?
The Dutch sneaker scene happens to be one of the best in Europe and Rotterdam is a very cultural city with loads of design, artists and of course an abundance of sneaker fiends. Rotterdam only has a few exclusive sneaker stores compared to Amsterdam, so this is going to be big.
The last time we heard from Rotterdam was with the Lijfstijl x NB collab. The fellas exposed the city as a scene on the come up - how is it popping off these days?
It’s still coming up. We’ve just opened up Oqium over here and I hear that adidas Originals will open up soon too. It’s getting better and better each day.
How so? Have you noticed specific trends arising in Rotterdam?
As far as sneakers go, I think it’s all getting back to basics nowadays, steering away from colour to premium materials. As for models and brands, the Nike Air Max 1 and Nike Air Max 90 are still going strong over here. I see a lot of kids getting into the Jordan Brand game now, since Jordans are a little bit harder to get here in the Netherlands, especially the good retro models.
So Opium is the perfect place for those cats to cop their Jordans from then….
Yeah! Besides the exclusive Nikes, we’ve also got the Jordan Pinnacle account, which basically comes down to a Jordan Tier-Zero account. Oqium Rotterdam is the only sneaker store in the Netherlands with this account (worldwide there are only ten or eleven stores with that account, I believe). And we will also be getting a lot of exclusive Jordans for girls too!
Will there be any other brands dropping instore?
Oqium Rotterdam, Paris & Barcelona will start selling other brands in the near future, so you can expect the best that other brands have to offer at any Oqium store near you!
Tell us about this amazing Jordan collection you have shrink-wrapped on display – are they for sale?
They are part of our Sneaker Museum and are all deadstock and not for sale. I love them, but I wouldn’t wear them though, because if you do, they'll just crack and you’ll end up having a pair of sandals at the end of the block haha!
Where do you source all the vintage goodness?
Actually, we collected most of the deadstock sneakers from Oqium Paris. Those guys have been collecting deadstock Nikes for many years and their Sneaker Museum is a little bit bigger than ours.
Are a lot of heads still obsessed with tracking down vintage sneakers or have they started to realise that these shoes are unwearable so the need to buy them has dropped off?
I think that nowadays it’s mostly the older heads that are looking for the true vintage sneakers, because they grew up with those sneakers. It’s all about nostalgia.
Tell us about the team that will be running the show at Opium Rotterdam…
It’s going to be Imro a.k.a. Mattie Mo, who knows everybody in Rotterdam and used to play basketball a lot, which got him heavily into the sneaker game. And then there is me - Raju, sneaker head/sneaker blogger/sneaker lover. I had to take two paper routes when I was ten to buy my first Nikes.
Cute! We get a lot of emails looking for advice on opening a sneaker store, and in this economic climate it must be a risky move, especially with ‘specialist stock’ – i.e. focused completely on Nike and Jordan Brand – how will you make sure the store stays viable?
Since Oqium Rotterdam will be dropping a lot of exclusive Nike and Jordan releases, we will have a tonne of release parties with food, drinks and music. We are also working on other brands and collabs. We have four big TV screens and a Playstation 3 with Pro Evolution Soccer, so if anyone wants to challenge Oqium Rotterdam - BRING IT ON! As far as customer service, we try to give every visitor the attention and service they demand. In the end it’s not all about selling, but also about sharing the same passion. We are always open to chat about sneakers as we’ve noticed a lot of peeps are looking for more background information about kicks and the whole scene, which we believe we can offer them.
Do you have any advice you could impart to those kids wanting to open a store?
Collecting sneakers is dope, but owning and running a sneaker store is a lot of hard work, much harder than most people think. If it’s your dream, you should always try to make that dream come true.
How was the opening launch party?
The launch party was this past Saturday May 30th! It doubled as an Air Jordan V ‘Raging Bull’ release party where we gave heads the opportunity to buy the red suede Air Jordan V ‘Raging Bull’ separately rather than in the pack. Check out the photos from Shooto attached! And, please feel free to pay us a visit if you happen to be in Rotterdam.
Will do! Opium Paris released a lush Nike x Air 180 collab a few years back which created massive hype for the store and literally put the boutique on the map – will Rotterdam go in the same direction collab-wise? Any projects in the pipeline?
Well, if I tell you now, I’ll have to kill you. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted, nice stuff will come out sooner than you think!