adidas Originals Store Berlin
Nestled in the heart of the city just strides away from Hackescher Markt is the adidas Originals store. Berlin Mitte is the perfect location, its cobblestone streets flooded with flocks of stylishly dressed businessmen and woman, gangs of flashy, hip adolescents, and families of excited foreign tourists.
Amongst the crowds, often hidden in plainclothes and calm colorways, are the secret shoe collectors and adidas addicts of the world, all coming to see the latest that the infamous 3 stripes has to offer.
This spring eatmoreshoes paid a visit to Chris Szymura – the trainer at the Berlin adidas Originals store – and rapped about all things adidas: the kicks they put out, the collectors who crave ‘em, and the culture that surrounds it all.
What up Chris? Can you introduce yourself to our readers out there?
I’m a sneaker addict I have to admit [laughs]. My background is actually quite funny ’cause a lot of people look at me and they don’t know what the hell I am. My dad is German / Polish and my mom’s Filipino / Spanish, so there’s a mix of everything, a lot of influences. I was born and raised in Cologne, Germany. I moved to Berlin about eleven or twelve years ago now so I call this my new home. I feel comfortable here in Berlin, Berlin’s the shit [laughs]. I did live in the States for six years. I came to Berlin after that and I hung out here for a while, did my thing, and had a job offer to go to Denmark, Copenhagen, so I stayed there for 5 years. I’m brand new back in town, been here only a year and half. Rediscovering the city.
What were you doing in Copenhagen?
I was a manager for Foot Locker. Sneakers were always my little addiction and I figured hey might as well, you know, be in the business, get good prices, if the new sneakers come out you’re right there on the spot.
So Foot Locker was your first professional sneaker experience?
Well not really, I’d been in the retail business for quite some years, also in the States, and then when I came to Berlin i started at PX-Berlin. That was a really cool store back in the day where they also had cool sneakers, skate vintage, and all the old school kicks. Everything was there.
Is it still around, PX?
It’s still around definitely, but they made some changes.
Not your flavor anymore?
[laughs] Not really, I completely changed my style.
Speaking of style, when were you first bit by the sneaker bug?
Way back when I was a little kid, but to be honest I never had the chance to buy the expensive shoes ’cause back then a 100 Deutsche Marks was a lot of money for a sneaker. You’d see them everywhere, on the school yards, when people went out, dancing hip hop, doing b-boy action, and they’re all wearing these Superstars, and all these other nice kicks. At that point it was almost impossible: you don’t have a job, you’re that young, you can’t get ahold of it. So eventually as I started to get older I figured out I would combine my passion with my career.
Did the brands mean anything to you?
For me adidas was definitely original and when I started off they were the most affordable shoes for me at that point and they were recognized right away. I mean adidas has been there since day one. Actually since 1949. And at that point in my life they had so many classics already that if you didn’t have a pair of Superstars or a pair Gazelles you’re were like an outsider, you know? I started to get into basketball as well and I discovered the Forum. That was actually the first thing that I bought in Berlin, the Forum Mid. I still have it, still rock it.
So is that your favorite silhoette from adidas, the Forum?
Basketball hi tops, definitely. If I just look at my little collection – I don’t have too many – but if I look at them I do have a bunch of Forums, up to five Top Tens, and I love Decade’s as well. Concord’s, I mean I love concords, I have one in snakeskin that I count in my top five definitely. Also I do have a lot of Superstars. But that’s winter time, in summer time I switch completely over to running shoes.
ZX’s definitely. One of my favorite’s now is the ZX 380. They re-released it and there are some sick colorways coming. That’s on the horizon, it’s coming up.
We’ll look out for that… so what’s your position at the adidas Originals store? What do you do there?
I’m an in-store trainer. I’m in charge of the floor and I’m training people. New stuff comes in and I train them how the business works, how to be a good salesman, how to be the best salesman, because I’m one of the best [laughs]. No but seriously I’m trying to teach them how to give good customer service. Also I need to give trainings in the products. So I have to tell ‘em about sneakers when they come out, for example the ZX 380: I would have to tell them when it came out, what it was made for, is it the original colorway or is it a retro colorway. I need to inform them if there are new collaborations with Jeremy Scott, Kazuki, Ransom, so there are a lot of details that a sales person needs to know. And of course I sell, because I love selling [laughs].
You must know a lot about shoes!
I have to, of course, in that position. I always like to inform myself about things that are coming out, new things coming up, but also there’s a lot of things I still find out nowadays that I never knew.
How would you describe the adidas Originals store here in Berlin Mitte?
It’s a dope location, it’s dope people, and actually this area is really hip, it’s really trendy. We also have quite a flow of traffic from tourists. I mean it’s amazing, they find it. I can’t just tell people about the store, they have to see and visit, it’s one of the biggest in Europe. And it’s only an Originals store; there’s of course Performance and Originals toether, but we have strictly Originals. We have a big floor and also it’s the first ever. It was the first retail store from adidas. 2001 they opened up. We’re gonna celebrate 10 years this year.
And how’d you go from working at Foot Locker to working here?
When I came back from Denmark, straight from Foot Locker, I went straight to adidas, and I just walked into the store and said ‘Hey, this is my kind of store’. I mean I’ve been a customer myself in that store. I remember in 2004 I walked in there, saw a bunch of Halfshells. I think one of my favorites definitely has to be the light blue one from ’04 and I still have it and I still cherish it.
Tell us more about what Berlin’s Originals store has to offer.
I must say we do have a quite big variety since we have so much floor space. And that also means we can actually triple up on shoes. If a smaller store has maybe one or two colorways sometimes we have three to four. I would say one of the oldest shoes would be the SL 72 vintage. Also we have Gazelle, Sambas, Spezials, plenty colorways, and those are shoes that are going very well. They’re simple, they’re easy and the most important thing is that they’re very comfortable. We have a lot of new designers as well like Jeremy Scott, Kazuki, and a collaboration with Ransom. There’s something for everybody. If you wanna come in there for a sleek looking shoe, not too many colors, maybe not even stripes, we can help you out. But if somebody just wants the real classic that they’ve been having for the last fifteen years, we got that too.
We’re not going to catch you back at Foot Locker in the fall are we?
To be honest I’m actually quite happy where I’m at right now. I love working in the store, it’s a very good locaiton, I have good colleagues, and it’s just fun working for adidas. Looking forward to the summer. Enjoying life and having a good time.
Word Chris, thanks for your time, anything you wanna add, got any shout outs?
Just do your thing, keep up the love for sneakers, and eat more shoes.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner!
written by Dylan Cromwell
photography by Harold Kohn