During a quick jaunt to Chicago to scope out the retail goings-on I visited House of Hoops by Foot Locker on State Street. I’ve been to other locations, but it was Chicago’s House of Hoops that blew me away. The store was thoughtfully designed from top to bottom. The energy was undeniable from the second you walked in with bright colors, glowing graphics and product presentation, and a soundtrack I would rush to download from iTunes. In a word, this store had serious swag.
When you first walk in, you’re immersed in the Nike Kobe VII System Supreme presentation. The System is all about being a predator on the court, attacking with force. I don’t know the technical details of these shoes but I’m pretty convinced that I could slam dunk if I put them on. The shoes are revolutionary in that the low-top shoe has two interchangeable midsoles that slide into the outer “shell” of the shoe. The midsoles have different cushioning so you can change them depending on what type of support you need at the time. I highly recommend checking out the House of Hoops site, which features a number of videos from campaign clips to a design inspiration discussion between Kobe and Eric Avar, Creative Director of Nike’s Innovation Kitchen.
The t-shirt wall presentation is a step up from your typical t-shirt wall. Instead of wall-to-wall product, some frames are filled with luxe textures—snakeskin and cheetah—that are appropriate as lifestyle components as well as a clever nod to the predatory influences of the line.
Shoe display walls were literally glowing with brilliantly lit shelves and high-contrast, high-energy black and white wall graphics. Touches of messaging were placed on the front face of shelves when applicable to the product.
Even the shoes displayed on trunks were addressed with care, as each shoe platform is subtly stamped with the House of Hoops logo.
Throughout the store were artistic expressions of beloved players in action, which were perfect complements to the intense black and white photography on shoe walls.
The store was divided by fixtures placed perpendicularly to the walls, creating miniature departments along the way.
My favorite touch of genius is the wallpaper behind massed out product walls. Hidden behind hangers of clothing and pegs of accessories is this graphic pattern, which is actually comprised of Michael Jordan imagery, basketballs and hoops. From afar it looks like an elegant pattern. Then upon closer inspection, you’re delighted to find out what it really is!
I’ll be completely honest. I’m not a follower of pro basketball. I know the big names and that’s about it. This store, however, is enough to change your perspective and want to watch a game immediately, if not shoot a few hoops yourself. Stop by a House of Hoops next time you get the chance. Many Foot Lockers have a House of Hoops shop-in-shop, but the full stores are where it’s at!
Featured Image: © 2010 Google, Map Data © 2010 Google, Sanborn. Inset image property of Chute Gerdeman.