Roc N Sole is a sneaker boutique located in Downtown Brooklyn. The store is home to many urban brands. They pride themselves on being “deeply ingrained in the Lifestyle of The Sneakerhead”. We had the opportunity to sit with one of the owners, Jeff Harris, and learn more about Roc N Sole.
B: You could have decided just to trade and sell online what made you want to set up a brick and mortar business?
Jeff: The reason why we set up brick and mortar was to touch the consumer. Same reason why we didn’t go online in this first year. We wanted to be able to interact with the community, touch the community. Since the day we opened we’ve done events for them.
We felt that having a brick and mortar was important not just for exclusive product like Fresh Laundry or Roc Nation, Fin or Vandal-a or Trapstar, but we also wanted to have that person to person interaction with the community. As a owner, I’m here, I interact, I have fun, we hang out and it keeps it more personable.
What would you say make this specific Brooklyn community special?
It’s the people! We’re two blocks over from Fulton Street and in a great area in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. This creates a diverse clientele base. Our consumer ranges from the little average kid who is just getting introduced to sneakers to some celebrities who have been collecting for years — athletes, entertainers, and between.
So within in your store, what local lines do you carry?
We carry local brands such as Tackma, No Label Watches, Vandal-a Industries with their OG apparel. We also carry Trapstar which is a London brand, Blood Brothers from the UK, Stampd an LA based-brand. And of course the family, Roc Nation.
So you know, we try to give our consumer a good mix of local stuff like the brands I mentioned as well as products you can find in LA or in London. So we want Roc N Sole to be a good destination for brands you can’t find everywhere. We’re very knowledgeable of the competition around us and the brands they carry. So we want to be able to offer something special to our consumers. Whether you’re coming in town for All-Star or if you’re coming in town from England, California, or New Zealand [just to name a few] you know you can find specific brands only at Roc n Sole.
Having the opportunity to work at companies such as Nike, Foot Locker Inc, Roc-a-fella and Virgins Records — your career seems to rooted between the two worlds of fashion and music. What role do you think hip-hop has in sportswear?
Hip-hop has a big role in sportswear. It dates back to the early 70s. I think there’s a big correlation between street culture and basketball. And I say that because the choice of shoes on the court at that time were Superstars and Clydes. And even if you fast forward today, almost 40 years later, those shoes are still on the market and as still relevant today as they were in that era.
There’s an old saying: “Ball players want to be rappers and rappers want to be ball players” So I think the worlds definitely collide. A lot of athletes adapt the street culture and hip-hop culture into the NBA with the white t-shirts,chains, etc. Allen Iverson really set the trend for that. He kind of resembled a rapper not so much the 80s basketball players unlike Larry Bird or Charles Barkley or Michael Jordan [did] with the suits. I mean — hell they even changed the dress code because of Allen Iverson, Jermaine O’neal and guys like that.
I think it is one of the those things you look at how it all correlates together. Obviously the league is about 70% african american and they come from inner-city. When it’s time for the game — whether it be beats by dre or monster or regular iphone headphones — you’re listening to hip-hop so you’re engulfed in it. It gets you hyped, it gets you excited. Again, that’s where the correlation of rappers want to be ball players and ball players want to be rappers comes into play. The worlds are always mixed between the genres of lifestyle and culture.
As far as Roc n Sole what’s next?
Hopefully to make it a new year — that would be top of the list! And to grow the brand in the sense of Roc N Sole. I feel like we’ve been making great strides in the first few months of being opened. We are doing interviews like this, having a chance to be featured on Sneakerwatch twice, Ebony Magazine, Slam Magazine, Vh1, Global Grind, and AllHipHop. Having the press that we’ve had in the first three months is tremendous, it can only get better, we can only grow. Looking to continue to get better brands and product. We had a huge amount of support in the first three months, everyone from Ne-Yo to Clark Kent to Brooklyn Nets players to Fabulous to Victor Cruz to Adrienne Bailon to DJ Khaled.
I think this time next year, I would love for us to be in a good space within the community as well as in the sneaker world — being that destination in brooklyn. That’s what I really want! Us to be in that conversation that “Hey, when I’m in New York I have to go to Roc N Sole”
Roc N Sole has some of the most exclusive sneakers and apparel. Their warm and welcoming vibe makes them more than just a sneaker shop. Roc N Sole is a part of Brooklyn’s community and culture. They separate themselves from the competition by carrying brands and designers that no one else has. Don’t shop and travel like a tourist! Stop by Roc N Sole and experience a local favorite.