JOHN @ GEMS
GEMS A SHOWROOM DEDICATED TO SHOES HIDDEN IN THE HIP ALLEY OF PIONEER SQUARE SHOWCASES DESIGNS FROM PENFIELD AND BENCH TO COLLABORATIVE WORK BY ALEXANDER MCQUEEN AND PUMA. PIONEER SQUARE IS KNOWN FOR ITS ART SCENE BUT DESIGNERS MARKED THEIR TERRITORY IN THE BRICK SATURATED BLOCK OF WESTERN AVE. COME FIND YOUR JEWEL AT GEMS:)
Your store has a feeling of exclusivity while many of your brands are part of a collaborative collection. tell me why you wanted to represent these designers in your store and how they differ from other name brand shoe stores.
All of the designers and styles in GEMS Sneakershop have been carefully researched and selected for the Urban-Professional Seattle Man. While I believe that GEMS does in fact carry some brands that are not widely distributed throughout Seattle (The Generic Man, The Timberland Boot Company, Clae Russell), we chose to not just showcase the product, but to tell the story. The story of the designers, their original influences, their acclimation to the changes within fashion are as important as the product themselves as they are key to product knowledge about the craftsmanship of the shoes.
We proudly partner with many of the small business owned fashion stores in Seattle, but we feel that we all have a different market and niche. I think our key difference is the GEMS Signature Cove Wall which is the 20 foot build out that truly showcases the shoes. With use of lighting on both the top and bottom shelving and mirrors, our shoes really are “on display”.
I understand that your store functions not only as a sneaker shop but a lifestyle store. can you explain how your space interacts with the lifestyle of Pioneer Square.
Pioneer Square was the place where GEMS could call "home." After touring Seattle and diving into every inch of each community, we picked Pioneer Square because of the people. We are sitting next to six stories of artist working lofts. The lofts host the inspirations and artistry of the "starving artist" to "one of the most influential people (artists) in Seattle." GEMS sits next to the best venues for music. It isn't the selling out of seats that make it to Pioneer Square, it is the raw talent of Seattle music scene that rock out in this 'hood. We are bringing our own talent to the music scene as one of the best local producers Bean One keeps us going through each of our in-store events. We get lucky enough to bring in others who are out on the scene like Topspin and Supreme! GEMS gets the sports fans. . . We salute the masses of loyal fans that come to Pioneer Square for the free Sunday (football) parking and through the rain and snow, keep the bar stools warm and are smiling regardless of another _________ season. (Yes--you fill in the blanks!) GEMS outfits the beautiful nightlife of Seattle. We got great bars and clubs in this 'hood. While the ladies stream the town on any given weekend night in their stilettos, we have the right look for all the guys. We got styles that truly dress to impress. Your ride. . . Well you are on your own.
How do you see your company 5 years from now?
I would be lying if I gave you that “inspiring” answer like, “The future is unlimited” or “We can do anything we set our minds to.” Do you think a bank would give me a loan for that answer?! Of course I have a plan. . .a five year, a ten year and the retirement plan. The answer however will reveal itself as it becomes the history in the cobblestones of Pioneer Square. I want to see GEMS Sneakershop continually be BETTER then today, but I want to retain some of the things we are best known for:
-Individuality-We bring in the brands that we believe are really “IT” in the fashion, and footwear world of trends. Some you want to get because you see them in a magazine, in bigger cities, but we also bring in the New Kid on the Block Brand so you can investigate your own individual style and pick a style that works FOR YOU and not anyone else.
-Experience- I want to be “HERE” in five years. Now, this doesn’t mean I can’t change or expand, but this I am committed that this will never change. When you come in now, you are a friend. I love the people here. . .they come eat their lunch at GEMS on break, come get some hot music downloads for me, talk about the latest trends or fashion scenes. I want you to buy what works for YOU not what works for me.
What designers/brands have you been following for this year and why?
I have been following designers and brands who are adding pages to their history and making major movements in Fashion to promote individuality, function and style-
Alexander McQueen-We are so lucky to carry the PUMA Blackstation collaboration with Alexander McQueen in the store. He continually finds way to change the game in men’s fashion and truly become a leader in his field.
Arbitrage-“ At the heart of the Arbitrage philosophy is the belief that a man must capitalize on opportunities and take calculated risks in order to be successful.” This New York company showcases the works of Alan Chen. He was the first to come up with the hooded button-down dress shirt and is creating a special cut and sew for GEMS coming soon!
Penfield-Since 1975, they have been creating the authentic outdoor apparel out of Hudson Massachusetts. The clothing is engineered to with stand the climate in New England, but the brand was on hiatus for about 10 years but came back in Europe. Since the “return” in 2005 in Europe and 2007-2008 in the states, they are getting back to what they are known for~unique collaborations and quality.
Cause-Hiroaki Masuda is bringing a new twist on the classic silhouette. They had a huge 2008, but I am waiting to see what they do in 2009 in terms of acclimating to the changes in fashion and the business.