If you’re a sneakerhead or generally a member of this streetwear culture, chances are you’ve heard of SneakersnStuff. The Swedish sneaker boutique has been around for over a decade now and made its mark on the industry in many ways, countless times. From collaborating with the likes of Nike and Reebok to launching their own line of apparel, the story of SNS is a great one. The way we see it, there wouldn’t be a lot of the retailer x brand collabs that we see today without pioneers like SNS. We got a chance to sit down with Erik Fagerlind, one of the co-founders of SneakersnStuff, and chop it up about the story and vision behind the shop.
Let’s start all the way back at the beginning Erik. Tell us about how you met your partner and had the idea of starting a shop.
I met my partner Peter in the early 90s. We grew up on separate sides of Stockholm but we ended up working for the same sporting goods store in those days. It was the same store but different locations. My sneakerhead reputation was well known amongst my friends and co-workers, and I was told about a guy from the North who was as crazy about shoes as I was. We both attended a Reebok DMX clinic and that’s where I first met him. I knew this was the guy because he and I were the only two decked out in Nike head to toe. We became friends and traveled to NYC together in like ’96. Our trip was a sneaker quest and our people wanted to jump at the opportunity as well, offering us cash for pairs they knew we would find over there. The cut we took from that ended up paying for the trip! It was around then that he and I got the idea to start our own store.
Wow, a trip to NYC just for kicks ended up being a business move, that’s awesome. So you knew from then your store would specialize in sneakers I assume?
Well, yeah, see at the time the only place to get kicks or ‘streetwear’ was at a sporting goods story or maybe a skate shop. There were no sneaker boutiques yet. So we decided that’s what we wanted to be. We made some more trips to NYC, picked up a bunch of heat, and stocked up our first store with that. We opened our doors for the first time in ’99.
From there, success came quick for the young Swedish sneakerheads. Nike was impressed when they reached out trying to place orders directly and was happy to help out. Their small first location in Stockholm did so well that they opened a 2nd location about 5 years later. Soon after, Erik and Peter got their first taste of failure in the business. Growth slowed down, and costs did not. The rough patch resulted in the closing of one location. The other location was moved elsewhere in Stockholm to where they currently reside still today. That episode taught Erik and Peter a lot about new methods and techniques within the industry they had not used from the start.
You made it through the rough and the shop has stayed put ever since. Tell us about the current location and the environment in/around SNS
Well we are located in the South of Stockholm, which if I was to compare is like the lower east side. It is a little bit low key, off tempo, mainly residential. Lots of good energy on the nights and weekends. When we first opened we were getting it for cheap, we were the first store there. Now there’s way more stores. Stockholm’s not that big but this area is more laid back than the rest. It’s funny because people come here more and more now. Now we are the epicenter of that area, a tourist attraction almost. A place people come to visit.
Pioneers of the sneaker boutique industry, Erik and Peter didn’t stop there. SneakersnStuff was one the first retailers in the world to be given the opportunity to collaborate with footwear brands on exclusive editions of sneakers. It all began when SNS teamed up with Puma on the SNS Basket Hemp. There were 136 numbered pairs of the hemp based sneaker to match the address of the new store. The inside of shoe had sneakersnstuff logo. Over the years they’ve teamed up with Puma, New Balance, Adidas, Reebok, and Nike.
The collabs you guys have put out are well documented. Talk to us about the most meaningful collaboration to you.
It’s impossible to pick one project that has been more meaningful than others, I think one I’d like to share is The 1st new balance 577 (I did one and peter did one) they flew us out to England, gave us a tour and everything. We went to make these kicks, they were just showing us around the whole trip, pretty unorganized back then. At the end of the day they were like Oh u want to do a shoe? Sure, right let’s do it. They brought out paper and raw materials and so Peter and I designed and sketched our versions right then and there. I always try and put some taste of Sweden, to make us different. I’m a proud swede, but its more than pushing the country, it is our identity. So I went with a yellow and blue to tribute the flag on that shoe. Funny story is they changed the blue to a mint green on my shoe, peter’s was fine. They went back and made us 96 pairs with the right blue and then we released those, and then ended up releasing the other one secretly a couple weeks later. That was our first big chance to really design and I’ll always cherish it.
Safe to say you guys are seasoned veterans in this industry. Tell us what has changed the most over the years.
Well the business has changed a lot, we used to have all new products on the wall, new silhouettes all the time. You sold the new shit. That was key, to have it. There didn’t used to be lifestyle divisions from the brands yet back then. Things hadn’t gotten to that level. We got to be there before that all happened. So we were there for people to try new things. Lifestyle kicks have blown up so much since then and I think that’s one big thing that helped us, and the industry as a whole. Every company that we worked with has grown since then, and now we get to work with teams at those brands to help us with each and every project. So many people with a common goal, its great. We used to pick anything they threw at you, now you have to be selective. We turn down stuff, we analyze and decide.
Sneakers and Streetwear apparel go hand in hand. What non footwear brands did you get a chance to introduce to Sweden through the shop?
Well we brought in Staple and Milkcrate back in the day. Today we carry Stussy, Milkcrate, Norse Projects, and stuff like that. As we grow, we’re buying more mature clothing. We help Swedish brands get shine by putting them in the store and the webstore too. So its not only us bringing brands to Sweden, but showing Sweden to the rest of the world. That’s important to us. Plus now we just released our first ever in-store line of apparel. We’re excited about that.
Follow SneakersnStuff on twitter: @sneakersnstuff