Newly opened retail concept store aspires to be ‘Sneaker Capital’ for millennials

T.O.P. chairman and managing partner May Cu Unjieng (fifth from left) poses with Capital's brand ambassadors during the store's media launch.

(Source:, by Rhoel V. Fernandez | Oct. 18, 2015)

Back in the day, when you wanted to buy a pair of rubber shoes you went to the nearest department store, picked a pair that caught your fancy, made sure you got the right size, paid for it and went on your merry way.

The landscape of sneaker culture has changed since then.

One good example of the emerging sneakerhead trend is Capital, a retail concept store that aims to provide more than just footwear.

“Sneaker stores by now are a dime a dozen. It’s booming and everyone is joining the bandwagon. We did a lot research,” May Cu Unjieng, chairman and managing partner of The Outlet People (T.O.P.), told during the store’s media launch on Thursday.

“I personally went to Europe and different parts of Asia where I looked at the best sneaker stores. We’re different from what we carry — the products and in terms of service.”

Located in UP Town Center, Capital carries shoe brands that include Nike, adidas, Puma, New Balance and Asics Tiger. It is also the first multi-brand store that carries Fred Perry.

The store, however, does not merely cater as a “fix for kicks” to a young market. It’s also growing a culture that revolves around sneakers as a medium for self-expression and individuality.

T.O.P., the company behind Capital, has been in business for 15 years as a retailer for Nike. It’s strategy for its first multi-brand store involves a pro-active sales staff that is knowledgeable in the detail and history of specific shoes; a warm yet classy in-store environment; in-store wi-fi; a music element and school engagement.

Cu Unjieng said their research revealed that their target market, from teenagers fresh out of high school to young professionals with a passion for shoes, “want an authentic store.”

“(Millennials) don’t want a trying hard store because they’ll know it right away”, she noted.

The store will also be spearheading an art battle contest for the fine arts departments of the nearby schools (the mall is bordered by UP Diliman, Ateneo and Miriam College). The resulting artwork will then adorn the store’s walls.

Highlighting its service level, Capital also introduced a free shoe cleaning service. For every pair of sneakers bought from the store, a coupon will be given that would entitle the buyer to bring in any pair of old sneakers for cleaning.

To help spread the word, the store also has 10 brand ambassadors from various schools to represent the brand that include athletes, young business people and artists.

As part of its launch, Capital adopted #NewShoeMovement as its hashtag on social media.

“We’re the new kids in the block and we wanted to start a new shoe movement and for Capital to be the go-to place for the millennials. Kids from the nearby schools can go here and hang out, use the wi-fi and what not. We want them to be comfortable,” said Cu Unjieng.

Capitol is set to open two more stores – in Circuit Makati this November and at Uptown in Bonifacio Global City at the end of the year.

Coinciding with the media launch is Saturday’s release of the Nike Air Presto. Originally released in 2000, the Presto was touted as a “T-shirt for your foot” with an elastic upper that hugged the foot. Its minimalism and snug support has made it a favorite of both runners and collectors. A limited number of the pairs in ‘Harbour Blue’ colorway were offered on a first-come, first-served basis for P5,795 SRP.