The Saucony Grid SD Casino – the collaboration between the brand, record producer Just Blaze, and Packer Shoes – is now available at the pop-up shop at Wallplay in NYC. At a launch party Thursday night for the show, Footwear News spoke with Mike Packer, owner of the Teaneck, N.J.-based retailer, about connecting with Just Blaze, the vintage Polo clothing inspiration behind the shoe, and more.
Why not make this available to stores outside of the pop-up shop and the Packer online store?
It’s big for us if Colette is getting our shoe or if Sneakersnstuff is getting our shoe or the guys at Sneaker Patrol, if Concepts is carrying our shoe; that’s happened in the past and that’s cool. But for something like this, it’s a project that we’re doing with Just together, when it comes to the curating it and bringing it to the market, it’s just something that feels more to us like a store type of thing.
Thankfully, the way that the industry has matured where you have stores like ourselves and others that do projects like this, you want to keep a consistent balance because all of us that are doing this type of stuff, we all know each other, everybody wants everybody to win. When we get some of theirs and they get some of ours, cool, everybody’s happy, but everybody also realizes that there’s a reason for doing something like this.
How did the relationship with you and Just Blaze come about?
Last year we did the [Saucony Grid 9000] Snow Beach. We didn’t go into it saying, ‘Let’s do a Polo piece.’ When it came to development and working with Saucony, it took about a year to get that one right. To me, when you look at that shoe and you think of the [Polo] Snow Beach [jacket], you think of two people in the industry, whether its sneakers or entertainment: Just Blaze and Raekwon.
Fortunately, we had relationships with both, and when I had the sample I wanted to show it to Just. He was spinning at an event, came out at about 2 a.m., and he had a reaction to it that validated it to me right there. Just is admittedly when it comes to this a perfectionist, a nerd, and when he’s like, ‘This is it,’ it was something that organically grew. With all that, it became a Packer and Just thing, but there was nothing formal between us, it was just a relationship that grew.
What makes this shoe so special?
We sat down with Just and asked what next, and we decided to go with something that’s iconic but something that when people look at it and realize what it’s about and realize the piece that it’s off, they’re like, ‘I forgot about that, I wore that.’ This is inspired by a classic piece that only Polo heads know. People that don’t really know about the Polo legacy get a little confused, but this is storytelling and educating, which is cool.
Why do the release in N.Y. instead of your store in Teaneck, N.J.?
The Casino shirt was a very N.Y. centric thing, ‘Lo heads and guys who were in that genre were from N.Y.; it’s a five boroughs thing.
Is there anything else in the works with Just Blaze?