ARTICLE BY Sneaker Freaker
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Loaded - New Zealand

This month sees the Wellington and Auckland branches of Loaded come together in cyberspace with the launch of their eagerly anticipated website, www.loadednz.com.This will not only allow Kiwis to be laced and informed with exclusive drops, new brands and daily events, it will finally put Loaded on the global map as the forefathers of New Zealand street culture. We caught up with the whole gang from Loaded Wellington and Loaded Auckland to give us the dirt on the NZ scene and give you an exclusive look into why the stores keep on keeping on in this competitive world of sneaker retail.

Hey guys, how is the New Zealand scene popping off?
At the moment the scene in New Zealand is mega! We are seeing a huge amount of new comers to the scene as well as the older heads, and a mad increase in girls who love sneakers. People are coming in with knowledge now, but when we started out, we had to school people in sneakers. There were a limited few who had a handle on the game, but now it’s big. More and more people are jumping on the scene every day.

How much has changed since you first opened your stores in Wellington and Auckland?
Things are always changing, you know what the fashion and sneaker scene is like…brands that were hot are no longer and new brands pop up all the time. We always try and stay ahead of the game, but that can be tough. Like I’ve already said, more and more people already know about sneakers. They’ve done their research before they come in. They know what is dropping and when. They know what is popping and how fresh. People have opened their eyes and started to look down… to what kicks they’re wearing. And that’s when we jump in…..

You were probably the first and most known sneaker store to come up in New Zealand, but with the rise of stores opening to cater to all the Kiwi heads, has there been any difficulties for you guys or do you see it as an indication of the scene becoming more commercially viable?
Yeah, we’ve been around awhile, but as we said earlier you have to continue to evolve otherwise you will just get left behind. The difficulties tend to arise when you are trying to keep something exclusive or slightly less commercial but other stores are picking up on the fact that sneakers are popular and stocking some of the same stuff. You want your customers to be getting sneakers and gear that they aren’t going to see everybody rolling down the street in, so when a nationwide chain store starts selling the same sneakers it makes it hard to keep it that way. In saying that we still cant turn down these releases as they are some of the best selling and looking ones, its hard to find the balance between underground and successful but I think we have it wired now. Like you said… We’re the original.,

Loaded are about to launch their website which you say will basically be a blog for all upcoming releases and events. How come it has taken this long to get something online?
We have been online for a while now, with our MySpace page, the website is something that we have always wanted to get sorted, but we wanted to make sure that when we did, we did a good job of it. Also it just has not really been the priority until now. We opened the Wellington store a year ago and have really just been working hard on that store and trying to continually evolve our business in other areas that we thought were more important at the time. But the time is really right now to launch our website LOADEDNZ.COM and give our customers something that they have been crying out for!! We think it is something people will really enjoy.

What do you hope the website will achieve for Loaded and what brands will be featured?
Ideally the point of the website is to make our stores and our culture accessible 24/7. It’s basically a pretty straight up and down blog site aimed at Sneakerheads nationwide that want to see fresh product the moment it drops. We will promote all our brands (see brand list below), all our events, basically anything we think is cool whether it is really sneaker/fashion related or not.

Will there be an online store as well in the works or will this purely be a product-showing page and a taste of what people can expect when they come instore?
Initially just a product showing page, but there is definitely the opportunity for you to contact us through the website and buy stuff!! We currently sell to people all over NZ, people that might have shopped with us once, really enjoyed the store and had a great experience but can’t always get to Auckland or Wellington and still want to get their hands on the brands that we sell.

I remember reading somewhere when you first opened that you would be stocking brands other stores hadn’t seen up until that point. Does that still hold true these days, and just how hard is it to have a diverse selection when sneaker/street wear stores are popping up all over?
It definitely has got harder over the years to find exclusive brands, the reality is New Zealand is a smaller market in the scheme of things and we can get overlooked occasionally. In saying this though, we do our best to bring our customers something new and different all the time and have some really exciting brands lined up to drop this year! You have to be careful though and make sure you don’t get too caught up in the hype. Fashion changes so quickly and something that was the hot new thing last month can become boring and overdone mega quick. You need to know when to get in but also when to get out. Loaded tends to roll deeper than a lot of the newer stores popping up in terms of we have such a diverse range and hold a reputation for giving the peeps something no one else can.

Are you guys surprised that your stores have continued to do so well over the years?
Not really... I don’t know if you know, but we’re kind of a big deal ☺ (laughs).

How do you keep evolving and making sure there is fresh product and that you guys remain on top of your game with two stores that are so far away from each other? Obviously they have the same flavour to them as they both fall under the Loaded umbrella, but how do they differ?
The stores are one in the same, but yet we differ a lot. We have to cater to two different demographics, Wellington and Auckland are like Melbourne and Sydney. People still want dope stuff, but they tend to rock them in a different way. Wellington is very Melbourne-like, while Auckland is very Sydney-like. If something is working well in one store but not the other, then we make sure the right product is in the right place. We have evolved over the years, and done it well. That’s why we are still here today. We keep kids that follow trends entertained, and then we’ll create trends for the kids who want to be different… Just like Wu-Tang… Loaded is for the children.

What is 2008 going to bring for your customers, any special surprises?
2008 is going to be a big year for us…. we will be refitting the Auckland store with a pretty cool and different footwear area downstairs, something that we have been working hard on for a while, obviously the launch of our web/blog site which we are really excited about and some really great new brands coming on board over the next few months. Other than that is will just be a matter of trying to continue doing what we do…our best to deliver a pretty cool mix of sneakers and fashion in Auckland and Wellington…and maybe elsewhere in the country…..watch this space, time will tell!!! ☺

Peep their details here http://www.sneakerfreaker.com/shopguide/106

and here http://www.sneakerfreaker.com/shopguide/107/


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