19 December 2017 0 Comments Posted By : ALEESHA HARRIS

Native Shoes sets up shop in Gastown

If you’ve ever asked around about a lightweight shoe that’s perfect for running around on the weekends in — as well as a donning in a casual workplace, odds are, you’ve been pointed toward Native Shoes. 

The Vancouver-headquartered brand’s featherweight footwear is comfortable and cool, offering a selection of non-leather styles for men, women and kids. And now, the company’s lineup can be found at it’s first branded bricks-and-mortar store in Gastown. 

Michael Belgue, the creative director for Native Shoes, chatted with Postmedia News about the brand’s first shop, what makes Native Shoes different and what’s next. 

Q. For those who aren’t familiar, how would you describe Native Shoes? 

A. Native Shoes is an inclusive, design-driven brand creating beast free footwear that is “Lite” both in function and philosophy.

Q. How, if at all, has the brand changed since it first launched? 

A. The product offering itself has grown exponentially since 2009 when Native Shoes first launched. What started off as a handful of silhouettes in a single material has evolved into a four-season footwear program of sneakers, sandals and boots. We’ve introduced a lot of new materials and technology in the past few seasons including our Liteknit — a 3D, form-fitting knit that produces no waste in the manufacturing process, that you’ll see on a lot of our new releases.

Q. What made this the right time to open a Native boutique?

A. Opening a brick and mortar retail location has been a goal of ours for a while, so we had to act quickly when the 14 Water St. space became available. Having our own physical shop allows us to share a brand experience that wasn’t possible before. We wanted it to be design-focused, interactive, and fun; showcasing product for both adults and kids, in a breadth that wasn’t available anywhere before.

Q. And what made Vancouver, and Gastown specifically, the right place to do it? 

A. We wanted our first store to be in our own hometown, which allows us to test different concepts and build a community around a central space. We had Gastown in our minds specifically and were really lucky to find this location. Not only is it a historic neighbourhood, we’re setting up shop in what is easily Vancouver’s most interesting shopping district. We’re excited to be surrounded by the likes of Roden Gray, Neighbour, Aesop, Litchfield and Cos.

Q. What can shoppers expect to find in-store? 

A. We’ve incorporated some design elements that play on both the Keep it Lite philosophy of the brand as well as our natural environment. We have a green wall made entirely of foraged moss from around Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and a ‘gum ball machine’ installation to playfully showcase our kids’ line. The in-store seating is actually made from recycled shoes, and we’ll have a deposit slot for customers to drop off their worn Native Shoes that can be repurposed into something new.

Q. Can we expect to see exclusive product drops happening in the store? 

A. Definitely, yes. Our first store presents a lot of new possibilities for exclusive experiences that we’re only beginning to explore. We’re working on a small run of T-shirts playing on our brand messaging that will live in the Vancouver space, including some with noted graphic artist Rhek.

Q. Any exciting launches we should keep an eye out for? 

A. The store opens just in time for us to launch our Spring 2018 collection in the new year, which has a few new styles that the team is really excited about. The Jefferson 2.0 is a knit sneaker with full slip-on capabilities that carries on the legacy of our original Jefferson, and this season we’ll release the lightest adult shoe we’ve ever made.

Q. Lastly, what’s next? 

A. We have some interesting brand collaborations coming up in 2018 for both our adults and kids lines, and who knows, maybe another physical space somewhere else in the world!

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