Before my fascination with street pumps began I merely thought about wearing sneakers for utilitarian purposes. I typically owned one pair at a time and replaced them only after they’d been worn into the ground. Fast forward a few years and multiple pairs of hot kicks with creative patterns and swirls of color have staked their claim amongst my favorite stilettos. So imagine my delight when I came across Kendo, a sneaker boutique created with the often unappreciated female sneaker fiend in mind. Nestled on L.A.’s famed Melrose Avenue, Kendo is a must see for anyone who appreciates fine funky footwear.
Q: What exactly does Kendo mean and how did the concept come about? Kendo is “The Sneakers Boutique For Women.” We decided to take a chance and create a very niche store to cater to the female sneaker connoisseur. Even four years ago when we opened we figured there were to many sneaker stores selling the same kinds of product. And now obviously with the influx of new stores all over the country there are even more. So it makes what we chose to do still different from the rest.
Q: Who is behind the brand? Has footwear always been your area of expertise?
There are two partners in the store. Me, Arsen Salatinjants and Vladimir Borges. And footwear has always been my area of expertise, but mostly in my personal life. Neither of us worked for a footwear brand but have always been interested in the culture. We have had retail experience, but we never had direct experience in running a business until we opened.
Q: What kind of response has Kendo gotten since it opened? Is it what you hoped for?
We have received a great response from people in the industry and customers alike. When customers are in the store we always hear them say, “Finally!” in regards to having opened a store catering to women. But in general the female sneaker consumer is far behind her male counterpart in the amount of excitement for the product available. Women are very excited about sneakers, but not nearly in the numbers that men are. But things are changing and we hope to stay in the forefront of that.
Q: Why do you think the niche customer of female sneaker fiends has been ignored for so long?
It’s been ignored mainly because the major companies have chosen to ignore them. We have been begging and pleading to them to offer more styles and put in more time developing the styles and designs for women as they do for men. It’s happening now and they see that it’s mainly an untapped market that potentially is profitable and the demand is out there for it.
Q: What kind of woman shops at Kendo?
We have a very diverse clientÃ¨le. But I would describe our core customer as being ahead of the curve. The women coming to Kendo know demand the best and highest quality footwear out there. They don’t just want what everyone has, they want the next thing that everyone will want. They are far ahead of your average female consumer in appreciation of older and newer developed styles.
Q: What’s the ‘craziest’ sneaker style you’ve ever come across?
That’s a tough question. Most of the craziest styles are usually not that good. We stick to what we think are the hottest products out there and don’t fall into the trapping of bringing in things that are over the top. But then again that’s also a matter of opinion. Maybe what I think is crazy are sneakers that try too hard and fall short of being wearable. When companies try to develop crazy things for women that they perceive to be dope is usually when they horribly fail. Like I always tell these people, if you think it’s hot for the guys, then it’s hot for the girls. Stop trying to develop product specifically for women. It’s usually a mistake.
Q: What are the must have sneaker styles for (spring/summer)?
We are expecting runners to be huge coming up. Styles like the Nike Air Max 1’s, Air Max 90’s and Huarache’s. Also Reebok is coming out with some great color ways of the Freestyle’s which should be popular.
Q: How do you decide what styles to carry in Kendo?
We as the owners are the buyers and we bring in what we think is hot. It’s pretty basic. If we like it then we offer it to our customers.
Q: Do any celebrity female sneaker aficionados frequent the boutique?
Yes, we have quite a few, but I’ll leave the names out of it. We are in LA but it’s not really our thing to throw out names like that. We treat them the same as we treat all our customers.
Q: What are your future plans for Kendo? Do you think there will always be a market for your product?
We plan on growing and changing with the times and culture. We plan on offering the hottest styles available and now with our web presence we plan on being available to women across the globe.
For more information on Kendo please visit www.kendo-la.com