Creative Recreation is bringing its streetwear sneaker styles back from a bygone era – and amidst company-wide restructuring and significant expansion of its distribution, the footwear brand beloved by entertainers and creative consumers alike is strengthening its hold in the market as it celebrates a 20th anniversary milestone.
From New York to Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, Creative Recreation built its reputation as a streetwear savvy, celebrity-driven footwear brand that catered to a tight and niche urban market of, well, creatives. After two decades in the footwear space, Creative Recreation has returned to L.A., and is reintroducing its coveted, customizable aesthetic.
Founded in 2002 under the axiom that “creativity matters,” Creative Recreation was launched by Vans alums that struck out on their own after Barneys New York picked up their eccentric sneaker styles at a footwear show. The brand swiftly grew in popularity in the mid-2000s and enjoyed a customer base that saw sneaker customization as excitingly novel and trendy.
“The people that really loved the brand were singers, dancers, and artists,” said Robb Carter, at Creative Recreation. “What we’re focused on now is mending that gap for Millennials that know the shoes and bridging the gap for 15 to 25-year-olds that would just be learning about the brand.”
Sporting New Soul
Characteristic of its strap that saddled the forefront of the sneaker – specifically across its sought-after Cesario style – shoppers were drawn to the highly unique customizable color combinations that erred on the side of unconventional but proved to be a prized commodity and later, a status symbol.
In fact, Carter noted that the Cesario’s casual upper and athletic outsole elevated the sneaker to pair well with the glamour of city life and night club attire, as its prominent strap imparted a more elegant look and feel than a traditional sneaker considered unsuitable in swanky environments.
Albeit today, Creative Recreation has centered its focus on offering a larger product assortment. Carter emphasized that the brand “started as a lifestyle creative brand. We want to maintain that core; however, we are looking into adding more variety, footwear that appeals to everyone with fun color combinations and material blocking.”
“We want it to become a go-to for anyone looking to have something different and new to their wardrobe. For 2022, we’ve added our Portugal line, which will feature quality leathers and very clean-cut designs. We’ve also incorporated more color to our line to make it fun while maintaining that high fashion look.”
Bringing Back Bold
The brand’s approach to restructuring is to uphold its original DNA and by creating bold streetwear that appeals to a wide range of consumers vying to dress with an athletic edge.
“We pride ourselves in doing something different,” Carter told FN. “The Cesario was the first in the market to approach the lifestyle look. One of our main factors is that we know how to work with color. Color blocking and different use of materials is what the brand is known for. Our customers know that we are not afraid to use color and take that extra risk in our style.”
And with all that comes the launch of its 20th anniversary collection, a small batch capsule of only 2,000 pairs of shoes or less that will be available in stores this fall, as well as a new women’s line.
“Developing a women’s line has been one of our top goals. We have an incredible design team that has transformed our women’s line by adding a more feminine silhouette to our Cesario, and a Vulc program that is both comfortable and fashion forward. We stayed with our DNA and combined patterns, colors, and materials that we are confident will be accepted by the customer.”
But styles aside, the brand added that it took a “grass roots approach” for 2021 by donating many shoes to its local community. “To stay close and help our community is something we are proud of. In years past we were able to participate with Covenant House and this past year we were able to help a few local high schools. We understand the power our youth has in our future, and we are very proud to be involved in activities that will help nourish their future.”
Carter told FN that the past few years provided rich insights into consumer needs and wants that helped inform its strategy for re-introducing the brand.
“We have had two years of the brand slowly gathering more awareness. Our next step is to place our footwear in the top brands. We know the design of our new styles will excite our customer base and are confident it will also appeal to the younger generation that is not as aware of our footwear history.”
Springing Style Forward
Footwear brand Creative Recreation revels in its resurgence and 20th anniversary milestone.
Embracing the bright pops of color and urban style often synonymous with L.A. dressing, Creative Recreation presents its new collection of sneakers that segue into spring.