Zappos announced last week the launch of The_ONES, a new retail experience that celebrates classic sneakers. The experience includes a new online hub (FindTheOnes.com), shoppable Instagram page (@The_ONES), and limited-time “pop-ins” in premium boutiques. The first pop-in, called BEYOND, was launched in New York City on Nov. 15 in partnership with Tarek Hassan, the owner of lifestyle brand Concepts that has collaborated with brands such as Nike and New Balance on numerous styles. A curated edit of The_ONES’ classic assortment will also pop in at Bird Brooklyn in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“The launch of The_ONES marks the beginning of a new era of sneakerhead,” says Jeff Espersen, vice president of merchandising for Zappos. “We felt like the market needed a one-stop shop for classic sneakers. Everyone has a pair of classics in the closet, and we want to become the go-to destination when you’re looking to refresh those iconic sneakers. We're courting inclusivity, not exclusivity, offering a complement to sneaker-drop culture."
While Zappos has done various takes on pop-up shopping experiences in the past, Espersen said this is the first time the online retailer has partnered with brick-and-mortar companies on the pop-in concept.
"Partnering with brick-and-mortar retailers lets us interact with our customers in real life, but it also lets us solve a real problem for these shops," Espersen said. "They want to carry these classic sneaker brands because their customers love them, but they can run into a hard time stocking them because they're generally not moving huge numbers. Therefore, letting them stock a collection of The_ONES, powered by the logistical and operational excellence of Zappos, is a win-win for everybody."
Not only are the pop-in installations helpful to the participating brick-and-mortar retailer, but Zappos benefits as well.
"Not only are we selling shoes in these shops, but it's also helping us stay top of mind with a new customer set," Espersen said. "Each party is bringing to the table what they excel at. We’ll also begin offering the same curated collections found in these stores on FindTheOnes.com, so people who might not be able to shop the stores in person can still get them."
The_ONES website includes a curated collection of sneakers from Vans, Puma, Adidas and Converse. It also includes editorial content such as exclusive interviews with sneaker icons like Stan Smith; original videos and illustrations; and features on the artists, musicians and makers who live their lives in these shoes. A dynamic mix of original photos, videos and GIFs can also be found @The_ONES on Instagram, with an integrated shopping experience provided by Curalate.
As part of the new retail experience, The_ONES will also show up outside a handful of New York City sneaker drops, treating those waiting in line to surprises including Zappos’ decked-out, gender-neutral Porta-Party and gear giveaways. New Yorkers will also see artful outdoor displays by illustrator Timothy Goodman popping up around the city in a graphic series of love letters and illustrations of classic sneakers.
Zappos said The_ONES will become the company's home for launching future collaborations and exclusive products. "We're starting with classic sneakers, but there's a lot of flexibility for expansion," Espersen said. "We're working on some interesting stuff for 2018, so stay tuned."