From Prague With Love: Footshop x KangaROOS Interview
The sneaker scene welcomes a new store to the world of collaboration this weekend. European retailers Footshop have united with renowned Germany footwear brand KangaROOS for a luxurious Ultimate 3 colab, nicknamed 'The City of a Hundred Spires'. The sneaker is a love note to Footshop's hometown of Prague, crafted with the utmost quality and attention to detail. With Footshop rapidly expanding throughout Europe — having successfully launched new stores in Bratislava, Slovakia; and Budapest, Hungary, with more on the way — we caught up with Footshop's founder, Peter Hajduček, and collaborations coordinator, Peter Kováč, to get all the goss on their debut colab and impressive retail rise.
Congratulations on your very first colab! How did it all come about?
[Peter Kováč] Peter (the founder), Tomsh (our brand manager), Martin (our product guru) and the rest of our awesome team had been brainstorming colab concepts for some time. At the start of 2017, I was talking to my friend Bartek, who works for another European retailer, and he mentioned they were working on their first colab. I was interested in the details, as we were looking for the perfect partner for our own first colab.
He told me they were dealing with a guy called Lune who reps for KangaROOS and I realised that he and I were already in contact regarding some other brands. I worked on our original ideas and made some sketches, material schemes, and mood boards. We pitched a few concepts connected to our heritage and origins. Lune really dug the concept of creating a design connected to Prague, the city where Footshop was born. From there, we arranged a meeting at KangaROOS's factory in Germany to discuss the entire process and prepare every detail of the design, right down to the materials. Within only a few weeks of the first meeting, we had our hands on the first sample.
The shoe’s most striking aspect is its zigzag mudguard. How does this reflect the city of Prague?
[PK] The inspiration is drawn from Prague's nickname 'The City of a Hundred Spires' — or as it is known in Czech, 'Stověžatá Praha'. There are almost a thousand spires and towers all over Prague, and when you look out over the city from any rooftop, you will see the colours utilised in our design all around you.
The blue/green-ish colour is inspired by the oxidised copper that covers almost every spire in Prague, and the dark red is the colour of the roofs surrounding those spires. The golden eyelets symbolise the golden 'apple' that is perched on top of almost every spire. The zigzag pattern is a way of visually representing the jagged rooftop architecture that you can see everywhere in the city's centre.
How was the experience of working with KangaROOS?
[PK] It was amazing! This was our first collaboration with an international sneaker brand. Before that we had only done a few custom sneakers, such as a custom UltraBOOST with Dent Kicks. With KangaROOS, we were introduced to the magical process of shoemaking at their factory in Germany. Every pair was meticulously handcrafted and it was really exciting to watch. It was even more exciting to watch our own sneaker being produced in their factory near Pirmasens. It can only be described as a dream experience for a sneaker enthusiast.
We hear you'll be dishing out some extra goodies with the shoes.
[PK] Every pair comes packaged with a number of extras, including custom embroidered dust bag, stickers, pin, and two pairs of extra laces. However, we also have a special collectors box prepared exclusively for the Prague release. This includes not only the regular bonuses, but also an engraved collaborative beer glass, like those used for drinking Pilsner Urquell, one of the favourite beers here in the the Czech Republic. The bundle also includes a guide to Prague that features recommendations from the Footshop crew of their favorite spots throughout the city.
You guys are really elevating the Czech sneaker scene. What was it like in Prague before Footshop came along?
[Peter Hajduček] When we were starting in 2011, there was almost no sneaker scene. However, the wave of hype was just around the corner. We needed to educate our customers and spread the word about our business. Therefore, we have always invested extra effort into event organisation.
From the very beginning, we were part of the community. And with every special deed, we have been contributing back. We are supporting local artists and designers, as well as those who are in need. Thanks to our Yeezy raffle during the Christmas 2016, we were able to raise more than €13,000 (approx. $15,300 USD) for a new wheelchair for a little girl named Boženka.
You started Footshop in 2011 with a simple website and just 40 pairs of sneakers. Now, just seven years later, Footshop has three stores in three different countries, and we hear you're already planning to open your fourth — that's insane! Why do you think Footshop was so successful, so quick?
[PH] In the beginning, I wasn’t sure where it was going to take me. Luckily, we entered the market with the right product at the right time. We brought special and limited-edition sneakers to Prague. Before we opened Footshop, sneakerheads had to travel abroad to purchase any special releases.
For the most sought-after sneakers — the ones that are more expensive than usual — you need to have demand, and that means a customer. In a way, we needed to educate and raise our own customers' awareness to these sorts of sneakers, and prove they're a worthwhile purchase and that they have real added value. We did it in our own way, through something that everybody loves: parties. I’m not shy to say that what makes Footshop different from our competitors is through the way we started presenting products, which allowed us to communicate the story around them.
What inspired you to expand Footshop outside of the Czech Republic?
[PH] I always wanted to spread the Footshop vibe as far as possible. We currently support 10 different languages on our website. Once we had established ourselves in Prague, I started making plans to expand our retail presence internationally. Since the Czech Republic used to be one country with Slovakia, the opening of a second store in Bratislava was a logical step. After attending Kicks R Good in Budapest, we saw a gap in the market and lot of potential, so we decided to open our first high-street store there this past April. It's been a new and exciting experience for us, due to the massive amount of foot traffic that comes with the location. In mid 2019, we plan to expand into Romania with a store in the capital, Bucharest.
The Footshop x KangaROOS Ultimate 3 'The City of a Hundred Spires' releases September 22 through all Footshop locations and via raffle through Footshop's online store.