Behind all good stories, there’s always a good writer. It’s the same for stores.
From UK to Germany The James Brand went on the road for this Store Spotlight to meet and speak with a few folks as real and passionate as we are.
Custom bikes and sneakers seem like they’re born from two entirely different worlds, but we were able to find some remarkably similar traits and motivations. “Let passion drive your profession”, this quote is the perfect example for the people and founders from Bike Shed and 43einhalb.
Check out the interviews and behind the scenes below of 2 great places that you definitely need to add your travel notebook.
About Bike Shed:
The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club started in November 2011 as a blog about Anthony “Dutch” van Someren’s journey as a modern sportsbike rider into the ‘new wave’ custom motorcycles everyone was reading about online – the cafe racers, brat-style, scramblers, etc. He wrote about the new bikes and builders on the scene, especially in the UK & Europe. The blog attracted a crew of friends and contributors, originally including custom builders Tim & Kev from Spirit of the Seventies, Adam from Untitled Motorcycles and Art Director Barry, from Two Wheels Only & Motorcycle Deluxe.
The first Bike Shed show featured around 70 bikes across 2 arches in Shoreditch. It attracted 3,000 visitors – not just to see the custom bikes, but to enjoy art, photography, curated retailers and great food & hospitality. There was even a barbershop, adding to the sense of lifestyle and theatre.
We are now the largest independent motorcycle blog in the world, with the largest social media presence. We run three huge shows a year and plan to increase this number to five. We also all ride every day, and many of us race, ride on trackdays, off-road, or have ridden some truly massive trans-continental trips.
After working as writers for various German sneaker magazines, as well as summoning the German online magazine SNEAKERIZED.COM and also developing our own sneaker brand called "flaek footwear", it was only a matter of time that Mischa and Oliver would open the doors of their own sneaker store. Both of them, as well as the whole team are serious sneaker heads and as in any good relationship, it feels just best to have "them" the whole day around you.
It didn`t take long until the first disciples knocked on the door and our family started to grow. Whether the shop-crew, our storehouse pacmen or our office dudes - each new member grew dearly onto our hearts over the years and has helped developing our company to what we are today: A pile of crazy confirmed Sneakerheads.
Our store name doesn`t have anything to do with a restricted size range: 43einhalb is our common size. The reason that this brand of all things is decorating our shops` facade in the contemplative Fulda at Peterstor 7, is also no accident: As real Fulda homies, we would rather let you step on our sneakers, as to open a store in another town - and that means a lot.
The James Brand: The Bike Shed is a unique place in London, can you feed in with the story and behind the scenes?
The Bike Shed: The Bike Shed HQ in Shoreditch opened up in November 2015, right now our third birthday party plans are coming along nicely… BSMC truly began in 2011 when Dutch created a blog showcasing the custom motorcycle culture. He and I met shortly after that at a set of traffic lights in North London, he aboard a custom ’78 Z1000 me a Ducati SS. He mentioned he was putting together an exhibition - I said I’d help… 6 years, 9 shows, the launch of our Shoreditch home and many late nights later our small team of like-minded mates plan for a second venue in LA is edging ever closer to a reality. Watch this space…
The James Brand: 43einhalb is a unique concept can you feed in with the story and behind the scenes?
43einhalb: 43einhalb is a Germany based sneaker store located in our hometown Fulda and our favorite big city Frankfurt am Main. It was founded by Mischa and Oliver, two dedicated sneaker collectors, in 2011. Nowadays we’re a big team of creative, passionate - sometimes dorky - people that share the love for good sneakers and great products.
TJB: Each of London’s major Neighborhoods has it’s own style, what drew you to your current location and concept?
BS: Shoreditch is such a vibrant area, full of independent shops, creatives and a great social offering. It was also the birthplace of the BSMC event - that inaugural show occurred a few hundred yards further down the tracks from our current home of four converted railway arches comprising a bar/restaurant, shop, event space, lounge and barbershop. Having that strong diverse Shoreditch footfall past our doorstep to accompany our core of riding visitors and members really keeps the place alive and exciting.
TJB: Each sneaker store has their own style, what drew you to your current location and concept?
43: Both buildings in Fulda and Frankfurt look back on a fascinating history. That’s what drew us to them. Our whole corporate identity is pretty clean and open. Almost as much as we care for good sneakers we care for good design. And since most products we’re offering are pretty colorful white shelves and walls were the only option for us anyways. We keep our stores light and let our products shine.
TJB: Over the last decade or two, each of your respective homes have become an epicenter of design and trend cultures, how does what you are doing fit in with that scene?
BS: London is a great writhing beast of cultures with folk and ideas from all over the globe. It draws people to it who have plans, ambitions and passion - it is a place to make shit happen. But it is also a bitch of a city to travel through, so motorcycles make so much sense here. For many they make the city a possibility as oppose to a problem. When people fall for motorcycles they fall hard and so it becomes an expression of them, that leads to customisation, personalisation and they want to share the experience with a like-minded community… That is what we represent and hopefully what we facilitate.
43: The sneaker community and fashion industry in Germany is definitely still growing and we meet new interesting creative minds almost every day. There is so much potential for new brands, producers and trends. We’re trying to support and build the fashion community with our ideas and always try to present new concepts at 43einhalb. It’s always very exciting to see what’s coming next.
TJB: What are some things that your typical customer values in products they purchase?
BS: All of the things they appreciate in a motorcycle are appreciated in a product. A great bike can be had for relatively little cash and so riders recognise value but they also recognise worth, quality design and engineering, and are willing to pay for it when they find it. Riders are by their nature a passionate, impulsive and independent group – it is difficult to rationalise a custom motorcycle but oh so impossible to live without one, that translates to gear also, want equals need.
43: Our mantra: We don’t sell sneakers - we sell stories. We believe that every sneaker has a story that is worth telling. We want to know where the sneaker is coming from, what athlete wore it and what it stands for. The history behind the product. And our customers seem to appreciate these little details as well. High-quality products with a good story behind them.
“Bike Shed and 43einhalb have been on board with us since day one in Europe. Custom bikes and sneakers seem like they’re born from two entirely different worlds, but we were able to find some remarkably similar traits and motivations. “Let passion drive your profession”, this quote is the perfect example for the people and founders from Bike Shed and 43einhalb.”
– The James Brand Marketing & Sales Manager Europe : Pacome Allouis
TJB: A core piece of the James DNA is the idea of practical, not tactical. How does that idea play into what you are trying to accomplish?
BS: On a bike, space is always at a premium. Everything you carry has to be utterly fit for task. For many riders, myself included, their bike is a passport to freedom, to the wild, to adventure - a motorcycle never looks better than when a tent is strapped to the back of it. For this rider, every item he/she carries must be practical, essential and bring joy.
43: That’s what we love about James Brand. The products are functional and extremely stylish at the same time. We believe that this is the only relevant combination of the future.
TJB: Bike Shed crew, can you please give us more history about your relationship with Calum and his work?
BS: At its simplest, the Bike Shed Is a celebration of motorcycles – and Calum has made some of the very finest we have ever seen. His creations have graced BSMC events from the very beginning and every 1 of 1 build to have left his shop has raised the bar. He also happens to be a top bloke who lives down the road who we like hanging out with.
TJB: How would you say the design aesthetic of James fits alongside the brands you stock?
BS: For every product we make ourselves or buy for the store the focus is on design, materials, build quality and detail. I have a strong suspicion your team may have the same mantra carved into a wall somewhere out there in Oregon.
43: Design-wise, The James Brand is totally different than anything else we present in our shop. It’s unusual for a sneaker store to sell knives. But at the same time the beautiful design and high-quality manufacturing of The James Brand‘s products is everything we’re looking for in a brand. That’s why we wanted to present The James Brand in our shop. And our customers appreciate it.
TJB: Everyday carry products are often equal parts personal taste and classic function. Where do you see the future of the category?
BS: I am an EDC addict. I can’t help myself – it is a running gag at the ‘Shed that I will always have at least one blade about my person… After amassing quite the collection I am now enjoying doing more with less. I like the idea that as everything else becomes more and more technical, cramming more and more unused features into ever tighter and smaller packages that EDC will maintain that simple focus on purity of function.
43: We believe that with the growing variety of products, the almost unlimited access to them, and millions of choices customers face every day, people make their purchase decisions more consciously. Personal taste and classic function will always be the most important decision makers. But great services, trust building and honest customer relationships are more important than ever.
TJB: What do you have in your EDC kit currently?
BS: On my daily ride the following rattles around within designated pockets of my Mission Workshop backpack: TJB Chapter – Titanium and Stainless, Leatherman Wingman, Motion Pro Trail Tool , Brass Zippo, Cable ties, ;Rok Straps, Paracord, Fuses – my bike is Italian and old…, Electrical Tape – see above.
43: Besides the obvious items like phones, money and keys we’re getting ready for winter in Germany and most of us carry protection sprays and little brushes for our lovely sneakers around. And no bootlicking ;-) since we’re working with parcels and shipped products every day most of our team members carry James knives while working. It’s a trusted companion for us!
Our team at The James Brand is proud to support The Bike Shed, 43einhalb, and all of our retail partners. Thanks for following along and make sure to stay tuned for our next Store Spotlight.