Lots of websites let shoppers customize apparel by picking from a set of available colors and materials. The new Converse store in Boston goes a step further and gives customers the opportunity design their own Chucks in person.
The 3,500-square-foot store, which opens Friday, is connected to Converse’s new headquarters at Lovejoy Wharf and features tall glass windows that look out onto the Zakim Bridge. Converse will help its patrons customize shoes at its “Blank Canvas” workshop near the back of the store, where a colorful array of removable bolts of fabrics, leather, canvas, and other materials line one wall.
In scheduled one-hour sessions, a shopper can sit down with a Converse “maestro” and pick materials, rubber toe caps, laces, eyelets and other add-ons to create a unique shoe. Converse then sends the design to an off-site manufacturer, and the shoes are delivered to the customer about a month later.
The cost for customized kicks varies, depending on the materials, but Converse expects the total to exceed the $55 price of a typical pair of Chuck Taylors.
“We really want to create that feeling of self-expression and creativity, so that when they sit down, they feel like they are at a workshop,” said David Kelsay, vice president of global retail at Converse. “We want them to feel like they are making this shoe.”
The store also features Converse’s premium products, such as those resulting from collaborations with the fashion brand Missoni and the designer John Varvatos.
Another option: shoes and clothing that play off the neighborhood and the city. A regular pair of Chuck Taylors, for example, features a red stripe across the bottom to represent the Freedom Trail. Another pair is made of green- and bronze-colored canvas, similar to Converse’s sign on top of the building, and has a local map in the footbed.
“We are going to get a lot of tourists and visitors, and I hope we can play a small part in their total visit to Boston,” said Jim Calhoun, Converse’s chief executive. “I hope we can also be a place that Bostonians can be excited about. I hope that they are as proud of us being here as we are to be here.”