superchat melbourne: chris kyvetos

© sonny vandevelde

chris kyvetos is melbourne-based but internationally an esteemed purveyor of haute fashion wares. kyvetos was educated in retail at the highly regarded cose ipanema under the watchful eye of melbourne’s famous pinto family [now also responsible for retail institutions assin and eastern market] as an assistant buyer. chris went on to manage the assin store in sydney for an extended tenure after which he became the creative director of harroldshis most recent venture sneakerboy seamlessly blends physical brick and mortar retailing with its virtual counterpart, and in a way that all modern retailers have been taking note of. the seemingly impassable divide between the two has been obscured, and for a change the physical compliments the virtual and vice versa, as well as creating a highly economical and avant-garde approach to modern retailing. chris took a moment out of his busy schedule to sit down with superfuture for a chat.

what first got you into fashion and more specifically high fashion? as a kid i was always interested in fashion - especially sportswear. at age 16 i discovered what i thought was the best place on earth - a high fashion store in melbourne called cose ipanema. they stocked yohji yamamoto, comme des garçons and issey miyake. a year later i got a got a job there, it became my life. nine months later i was in paris as their assistant menswear buyer.

why sneakers? luxury brands have changed a lot in the past twelve years. once the property of the ‘establishment’ brands like balenciaga, givenchy and saint laurent are now in many ways symbolised by street-led cultures and demographics. for me, the icon of it all is the sneaker. plus i’ve never owned a pair of dress shoes.

how many do you own yourself? and what are your favourites? i own a lot of sneakers - but i don’t posses many. . brothers, friends, colleagues have most of them! at the moment i’m living in anything adidas - rick’s adidas, raf’s and y-3. the guys are doing great things right now. dirk schönberger and the team have done an amazing job at extending the adidas family into true high fashion.

sneakerboy challenges the traditional role of a bricks and mortar store, how has this been received? and what motivated you to create a space like this? our retail model has been really well received. when my partners and i sat down to plan the business we were sure of a few things. we wanted to be as convenient, as efficient and have the data practices of a digital business - whilst being as tangible as a physical business. we know our customers love to shop socially, see things, touch them, try them on, but they also like the advantages of web convenience and efficiency. so, we ended up with what’s now being dubbed the 'sneakerboy model' just made sense to us i guess.

what do you see as the impact of 24/7 news cycles, social media and faster fashion cycles on fashion as a business? what helps you negotiate these turbulent times? everything’s changed. when i started out some twelve or thrirteen years ago the only way to see the yohji yamamoto show was to be there. nothing was seen till it hit the stores. now everything’s instant. people message me with pictures of things asking when they can pre-order before i’ve even left the show. the impact in my view is that seasons are becoming redundant. not only because the six-month delay model is struggling to keep up, but also because with the rise of the far east as a consumer market, seasons are now climatically irrelevant. nike and apple have done a great job of adapting to the landscape and using it to their advantage - no seasons, just relevant product drops and releases. sneakerboy is running a delivery and release cycle more similar to this than traditional luxury.

© peter bennetts

how do you separate yourself and your business from fast disposable fashion? there’s a market for everybody. ours happens to be made up of consumers who are not looking for fast disposable fashion.

you worked previously with the very traditional and almost ostentatious harrolds. why the movement towards higher end street wear? was this a natural progression or has that always been a personal interest of yours? it's out of personal interest. i love the brands, culture and consumers of streetwear. i love that luxury brands now embrace this culture rather than resist it. i wanted sneakerboy to embody this movement. 

what do you think of the dichotomy between bricks and mortar and e-commerce? how do you marry the two? or will there always be a separation of some sort between them? i think that the dichotomy will fade. we’ve been asking ourselves: who said you can’t walk into an online store? nobody has been able to tell us yet. will there always be a separation? i think so, but i’m sure it will become smaller and smaller. 

what role do physical bricks and mortar stores inhabit in the modern epoch? 90% of all retail sales are made in physical stores. they provide a tangible and social experience that cannot really be replicated on a computer. we’re finding that making them as efficient and as computer really enhances the experience they provide.

how did you design the sneakerboy spaces? what has inspired their layout and futurist look? our architects made references to the ‘backend’ of the business in the stores. visual elements of the stores represent what goes on beneath the surface. we took reference from a lot of public spaces rather than shops. sneakerboy stores are social hubs, places people visit together. many of the design elements stem from this school of thought.

who was the architect behind the project[s]? march studio in melbourne. we’re very lucky to work with them.

what do you see for the future of retail? more people buying sneakers and saving their dress shoes for special occasions. . weddings, charity events and court appearances.

what do you see for the future of sneakerboy? we’re going to open a few more stores in a few more cities. we’re working with our partners and brands on special products and lines and we’re working really hard at build season less luxury business. 

what books and/or films are you reading and/or watching at the moment? football season is back on so most of my spare time is going to that! i get to read and catch a film on an airplane only, really. john love's behind the golden arches was a great read. 

where do you get your inspiration from? a lot from our customers. seeing them, talking to them, and most of them are friends. i like to see them excited when they come into the stores. having said that, it can come from anywhere at anytime though.

© rodney egggleston / march studio