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These Players Are Putting Money into Physical Retail

Footwear brands and sellers are betting on physical retail with expanded partnerships and new storefronts as mall giant Simon Property Group says “bricks are where the action is.”

LA Gear

LA Gear will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a brand reboot this month. Popularized in the 1980s and ‘90s, the Los Angeles label is reimagining its retro styling through a modern lens just as Gen Z is discovering throwback fashion.

LA Gear's November re-launch centers on the new Boardwalk sneaker.
LA Gear Courtesy

That process is being guided by new creative director Dave Osokow, co-founder of eyewear brand Privé Revaux. Osokow’s “entrepreneurial spirit and creative style align with our long-term vision and commitment to design and produce quality products that reflect our heritage, current footwear, and style trends, and expand our visibility,” LA Gear brand manager Jay Jackson said.

The design lead is kicking off his tenure with the release of a men’s and women’s low-top sneaker style. Dubbed Boardwalk, the silhouette was inspired by the brand’s archival Unstoppable collection of shoes and gear. “The contemporary look of the Boardwalk is a nod to the old-school classics we love from the ‘90s,” Osokow said—complete with a rechargeable LED tongue.

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The sneaker and streetwear label has enlisted retail partner Fred Segal to help usher in its next chapter. The shoe will debut at its flagship store on Sunset Boulevard this month, as well as on the luxury retailer’s e-commerce site. “Fred Segal shifted the style-culture of Los Angeles—a retail partnership celebrates the legacies of LA Gear, the history of our city and the authenticity of an inclusive lifestyle,” Jackson said. Retailing for $100, Boardwalk complements LA Gear’s existing footwear offerings, including Catapult, Flame, and Turbo.


Atmos, the Foot Locker-owned international sneaker and streetwear chain, opened a new concept shop for women in Philadelphia last month. Housed above its Walnut St. store, the boutique features Atmos’ private label, Pink, for the first time in the U.S. market.

The 1,400-square-foot space builds upon the retailer’s existing womenswear presence in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea. It stocks brands from MISBHV, KNC, Bape, Andersson Bell and Ciriaco, to Hanna Jewett, Carhartt WIP, Brain Dead, Honor the Gift and Ksubi.

Atmos' women's boutique in Philadelphia.
The new Philadelphia store carries the Atmos women’s private label, the Pink collection. Courtesy

The new location will address the underserved women’s streetwear market in the region, and will provide a platform for emerging brands and designers, the group said. The Pink collection, designed by Atmos’ Japan-based design team, updates classic styles with a “Tokyo twist.”

“We believe in giving our female sneaker customers an experience unlike any sneaker boutique in the world,” vice president of brand concepts Mel Peralta said. “The beautiful Walnut Street boutique allows us to expand our elevated, tailor-made footwear shopping experience and focuses on the community of women who get dressed from the feet up.”

“Our goal is to create a hub for women in Philadelphia through authentic partnerships that cater to the modern woman,” added Atmos USA marketing and digital director Marissa Le. “We’re tapping an array of local female artists and entrepreneurs to offer a diverse range of services and experiences in our new boutique.” The store offers apparel, headwear and accessories to complement the sneakers it sells.

Atmos invested in a women’s shop in Philadelphia.

Atmos plans a series of activations at its new, second-floor location and recruited women-owned small businesses and creatives from Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. to enhance the launch. Dance workout classes will be provided by Trillfit, while a weekend nail bar will be powered by Nailcon. Photos, floral workshops and sound bath meditations will also take place in the coming weeks.

Academy Sports + Outdoors

The big-box outdoor and sporting good retailer continues growing its footprint with the launch of its latest Texas store—for No. 33 in the Houston area, and No. 107 in the state.

The 50,000 square-foot store is the seventh of nine stores that Academy plans to open throughout the year. It plans to open 80 to 100 new locations over the next five years.

Academy's new store in Houston.
Academy added store No. 33 in the Houston area. Courtesy

Academy Sports + Outdoors is excited to offer our hometown a new and convenient location for our loyal customers with an updated store layout and shopping experience that features the best brands at a great price point,” executive vice president of retail operations Sam Johnson said.

Shoppers will find an assortment of athletic and casual footwear and apparel along with sports and outdoors equipment from Nike, Yeti, Adidas, The North Face, Under Armour and Columbia, as well as private labels like Magellan Outdoors, Freely, R.O.W., BCG, H2O Xpress, Mosaic and O’Rageous. The official retailer of the Houston Texans football team and the Houston Astros baseball team, Academy features gear and merch from both clubs.


The multi-category New York concept store has opened up an outpost in Brooklyn’s popular Williamsburg neighborhood. House of Showfields on Kent Avenue represents the nearly four-year-old experiential retailer’s second storefront, designed to look like a six-room home.

House of Showfields in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Showfields. Courtesy

Each shoppable space, including a courtyard, dining room, foyer, lounge and kids area, features an array of lifestyle products and serves as venues for activations like yoga and design showcases. The store carries young and mostly digital native brands including Greats and Sunday Citizen.