Within the past ten months, three non-native sneaker stores opened on our shores, placing local players visibly on the edge. Looks like there may be no fighting back
By Ray Zhang
What happened to once-major sneaker retailers such as Royal Sporting House (RHS) and World of Sports (WOS)? I found myself asking that question while standing in front of the newly opened JD Sports in ION Orchard. The dazzling store front was enough to hold me mesmerised, kicking resistance out of the way. A few doors down, RHS barely caught my eye. So what happened? To those two local stores, I mean. Nothing. Is nothing the reason why I have not visited either for a very long time? Or have some places merely receded into a corner even memory can’t reach?
Since November last year, three retailers from overseas have opened here: AW Lab, JD Sports, and Foot Locker. Despite the new players, it did not appear to me that two of our biggest sporting goods retailers, RHS and WOS, upped their game to take on the new, alluring trio. Did they not know that the competition would be fierce? When I said “nothing”, I meant no part of anything trending, no share of the unique, no trace of the stimulating. In fact, on all fronts, the merchandising and marketing hush in both stores have been deafening.
When Italy’s AW Lab opened in Suntec City last November, local sneakerheads had a foretaste of what was to come: breadth in merchandising, colour to cop not usually seen here, and releases that are not much later than those launched in Europe, which prompted one influencer-looking onlooker, shod in Nike Air VaporMax ‘Triple Black’, at the store’s launch event in the same month, to say that “AW Lab is a wet dream”!