The new Shelflife store in Rosebank, Johannesburg is a mecca for sneakerheads. Conceived by doyen of the local sneaker and graffiti scene, Nick Herbert and team, the new “shrine” is the CEO- and co-founder’s second store since opening in Cape Town in 2006 – originally to sell Montana premium spray paint.
From the street level concept gallery, visitors take the stairs to the first floor retail space passed a magnificent cathedral-like stained glass window – created in collaboration with Studio Muti and Stained Glass Workshop. Designed around a central cabinet of curiosities dedicated to the most prized limited-edition kicks, here you’ll find sleek shelves presenting every respectable sneaker brand imaginable, Shelflife branded apparel, Medicom collectable toys, sneaker cleaning kits, a vending machine with refreshments for long-haul shoppers, accessories, and plenty more. Then find yourself and your signature style in the 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling mirrored room where you can view and ‘Gram your next purchase(s) from every conceivable angle.
What inspired the design of the new Rosebank store? The inspiration came from many influential global retail doors, some I have visited personally, and some that are on my to-visit list. The concept was born from the central column and footwear focus for our very own sneaker “shrine”, which focuses on what’s exclusive to us and special to us. Everything else flows from there outwards.
Your very first pair of sneakers and do you still have them?Reebok Omni Pump was my first pair of sneakers. I got these when I was 8-years-old, and took many months of saving … I think even back then they were $50, which was nuts. Unfortunately, my mom gave them away, however, I still have the box.
Hottest drop this year? I would have to say our very own Shelflife adidas Consortium collab, the Shelflife ZX4000. This was the biggest moment for us in 2019.
What is the most anticipated drop for December? The most exciting for us in the pipeline is the Nike Dunk Viotech. I personally have always wanted a pair, the 2013 never made it to our shores, and the original release is hard to get. It will be a very hyped drop for both stores.
Beyond the hype, what makes a great pair of sneakers? This answer is really all about preference. I think sneakers, especially in 2019, is such a massively wide term. Of course hype drives sales but it doesn’t necessarily make something great. There have been some incredible sneakers that have totally slipped by people, as they weren't hyped. I would say personal preference plays the biggest role, second to this would be technology for me.
How many pairs do you have? Right now, I would think around 350-400.
Are you still finding time to do graffiti art, and if so last 'installation'? Yes I am actually, around once a week, although work is very time consuming for me, I still find it important. My last was on Sunday, but I can’t say where. Keep your eyes open!
Tell me about the adidas Shelflife ZX4000? Yes, this was incredible! It was 18 months in the making from first being asked to collaborate with adidas Consortium, which is the pinnacle of lifestyle for adidas. We were invited to collaborate on the ZX4000 model which hadn't been released since 1989. We were the first in the world to add our brand to the iconic style which was a big accomplishment for us. We drew inspirations from mood boards of South African lifestyle and culture. We used materials never previously used before on sneakers, made especially for this model. It was released in over 80 cities.
The Shelflife ZX4000 also sold successfully through other outlets internationally, which would indicate that you’re now a globally-recognised brand. Are you selling your branded product through other retailers? Shelflife’s own brand is a huge focus for us and has been in the previous two years. Using the most premium materials and always ensuring the highest quality. We have collaborated with many artists over the last two years, as we feel working with and supporting local artists within our community is extremely important to build a sustainable scene. We don't currently stock any other stores globally, but we do sell online.
The Shelflife lifestyle in a sentence or word? Constantly innovating and changing!
• Shelflife, Shop 280 & 308A, 50 Bath Avenue, Rosebank.