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West NYC x Saucony Shadow 5000: “Tequila Sunrise” With a Twist

September 5, 2013by Aaron Kr.
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Roughly ten years ago, New York City was full of well known sneaker boutiques that offered all the latest and greatest in limited editions and special releases. These spots were the ultimate source for sneaker fanatics to get their hands on all the cool stuff that they’d never find at the mall chains or through more mainstream channels. The sneaker business has exploded since then, and the dynamics of retail distribution and who gets what have become a much more crowded and complicated conversation. Despite the boom in sneaker popularity and awareness, many of these shifts in the system have taken an unfortunate toll on a number of NYC’s once mighty brick and mortar spots.

There are still plenty of places to buy sneakers in the Big Apple, but the quality and quantity of respected boutique shops has been diminished down to a number you can count on one hand. Most of the heavyweight shops that ruled Manhattan for years have unthinkably closed their doors, leaving only a few survivors to supply the city with the kind of sneaker shopping experience that has come to be expected from it. At the top of that list is West NYC, a store with a long and well deserved reputation for holding down the Upper West Side as well as those who travel from much further out of their way to make it their chosen sneaker hunting destination.

While the store’s success and devoted customer base speak for themselves, West has kept a relatively low profile when it comes to pursuing the kind of collaborative projects that have been embraced and productively utilized by many of their peers. That all changed last year when they teamed up with New Balance for their “Alpine Guide Edition” MT580, a monster release that brought along universal praise and global notoriety for the store, as well as the shoe. With a tough act to follow, West NYC has jumped back into the fray, this time joining forces with Saucony to put their own unique spin on the classic Shadow 5000 silhouette.

Dubbed the “Tequila Sunrise”, the shoe features a ’90s-friendly color palette worked into a grey/black base with the added touch of a gradient effect on the midpanel to help convey the concept and give the iconic Saucony model one of its most memorable makeups to date. Added details like the special heel branding and the “tequila worm” insole graphics sweeten the deal further, helping to solidify West’s resume as a formidable collaborator and leave us all in anticipation for their future footwear endeavors. We caught up with store owner, Lester Wasserman, to get the full details on their upcoming Saucony project, so check out the full interview ahead and watch out for the “Tequila Sunrise” Shadow 5000 releasing in-store at West NYC this Saturday, September 7th.

Sneaker News:  Your New Balance collaboration last year was a huge hit. Did you feel any added pressure to live up to the high expectations on your next shoe?

Lester Wasserman:  Absolutely. There was a significant amount of pressure, especially when you hit a home run on your first at bat.

SN:  What made the Shadow 5000 your model of choice to work with?

Lester:  Both the profile of the shoe and different pieces and panels on the upper made it a great choice for the look and feel we were trying to convey – 90’s tech running.

SN:  How do you approach these kind of projects?  Do you try to go in with a precise gameplan or does the design sort of just develop as you go?

Lester:  It all begins with an idea or concept. From there, we go through a series of drawings and then a sample. After we get the sample back, we discuss and view it as a team. Afterwards, we make the necessary changes to make it proper.

SN:  What’s the inspiration behind the “Tequila Sunrise” concept?

Lester:  The inspiration comes from the beverage, what it represents and the time of day. Drinking tequila often ends up with long nights that turn into seeing the sunrise. Additionally, the color of the drink served as an inspiration for the side panel. The teal serves as the sky.

SN:  Please give us a breakdown of the materials and color palette used on the shoe.

Lester:  We wanted to keep it very 90’s tech running. In fact, we wanted it to look like this would have been a quick strike from that period, so we kept the materials true to that era.

SN:  How many rounds of samples did it take to arrive at the final version and were there any obstacles along the way?

Lester:  I think we went through about 3 rounds of samples. Initially, the only obstacle was making sure the factory was able to make the side panel gradient from black to orange. This was a key point in articulating the story.

SN:  West may still be relatively new to the collab game, but you guys are building a strong track record. In what ways do these joint-ventures benefit the store?

Lester:  Agreed.  While this is only our second collaborative effort, our first shoe helped solidify us as a player in the industry as well as bringing increased awareness to the store.

SN:  Especially because of collaborative projects like this one, Saucony has been able to build some nice momentum in the lifestyle market in the past few years. What are they doing right and how high is the ceiling for their growing popularity?

Lester:  With running shoes trending, our Saucony business has been growing steadily over the past 12 months. Their history is rich, and their brand is authentic which is the perfect recipe for success in today’s market.

SN:  What can we expect from West in the future? Are there any other collab projects in the works right now with Saucony or any other brands?

Lester:  At the moment, we have three other projects underway, but it’s a little bit too early on in the process to name names.

SN:  Anything else people should know about the “Tequila Sunrise”?

Lester:  On behalf of my whole team, I’d like to say thank you to our customers. Without their support, none of these special projects would be possible.