Naysayers will mutter something about encouraging hipsters, and certainly it has the right postcode and enough potted plants, but the message behind new Bethnal Green store Pam Pam couldn’t be further from such negative connotations (and does the ‘hipster’ as defined by mass media even really exist? Hmm).
Following the lead of web only offerings like Small Feet Big Kicks and Sneakers Madame, Pam Pam is the UK’s first women’s only sneaker store, which is quite a feat given this is 2015 and approximately 93% of fashion week attendees (alone) have donned a pair at some point in the last month…
Just opened, the shop was founded by menswear alumnae Bethany Heggarty and Rio Holland and already boasts adidas Originals, Reebok and New Balance amongst its brands. As well as footwear it stocks apparel by labels like Carhartt WIP and Edwin, while the roster is finished with a selection of lifestyle and jewellery product courtesy of Hannah De Bruyn and Han Kjobenhavn.
“Our aim was to stock a varying rage of brands that would appeal and cater to a broad spectrum of women,” Heggarty and Holland tell Clash. “We had a strong idea of some brands we loved and knew would do well, like Australian label Vanishing Elephant, local denim brands Bethnals and adidas apparel. We approached those labels first then found other brands through friends, contacts, trade shows, websites and also once word got out, were approached by some brilliant brands themselves.”
The store’s interior resembles a contemporary PR showroom, sharing the kind of clean and calm aesthetic adopted by nearby The Goodhood Store and Soho’s OTHER/shop. Location wise, the spot was picked for its proximity to likeminded stores; “Slam City Skates being just across the way and Redchurch Street just around the corner made the decision a no-brainer,” the women chorus, “We had both worked in the Shoreditch area and knew that it was the perfect place to launch our store; there is a brilliant mix of styles in the east, all with a great emphasis on fashion, particularly sneakers.”
So how exactly did Pam Pam come to be? “Beth and I both worked extensively in retail/buying/photography/design for independents,” offers Rio. “Working for independents in particular, teaches you a lot very quickly because rolls are never set in stone – you have to develop and adapt your skill set very quickly. Between the two of us, we have a love of apparel, sneakers, homewares, jewellery and good design in general.”
Hoping to attract “women that feel comfortable in their own choice in style”, both observe that it was through working in menswear – they have over a decade’s experience – that confirmed the need for a women only retail space: “We constantly found women asking for this and that in their size, whether it be clothing or trainers, and we’d always have to turn them away.”
“We felt that there was a huge space in the market for Pam Pam,” they continue, “and the brands seemed to feel the same, the sneaker brands in particular who were and are still focusing on their women’s ranges. We felt very early on that we were onto a winner, and the positive response from our (female) customers confirmed it.”
As well as the promise of a unique shopping experience, the store is about to set up yoga classes, workshops, music sessions and other ‘culture focused events’; there are plans to host women’s running and cycling groups too, with the shop providing ample meet and greet space.
“Our customer base is looking for more,” confirm the ladies, who include themselves in the statement. “We find having a balanced, positive lifestyle is key in a day and age when everything is so fast paced and demanding. Our customer is one that loves a great sneaker, sweat, denim or button up, regularly runs or does yoga, fills her home with handcrafted homewares, and so we’re embracing this by providing a space that encourages and supports it.”
“It’s nice to be part of a community, to help and be helped,” they conclude, proposing support too for local women working in the creative and lifestyle arenas.
Pam Pam is open now at 129 Bethnal Green Road.