Check Out Concepts' New Boston Flagship Store

We spoke to the team behind the new store, which opened on October 24th.

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Courtesy of Concepts

While most brands struggle to shift their focus and business to the digital space, streetwear retailer Concepts is taking a different approach. A staple in the city of Boston for almost 25 years, Concepts gained prominence by focusing on their unique fusion of streetwear and skating culture and their commitment to dynamic storytelling.  The founder and CEO Tarek Hassan, along with president Darin O’Brien and creative director Deon Point, have been working tirelessly to open their biggest expansion to date: a new flagship store in the luxe Back Bay neighborhood. 

Located on 18 Newbury Street, shoppers will find 4700 square feet of immersive and sensory experiences.  If you’re looking for new sneakers?  Got it.  If you’re looking for a headwear customization space?  Got that, too.  How about an art gallery?  Yup.  A DJ booth?  Sure do.  Even if you’re just looking for a way to connect with other fashion lovers or just need a new spot to find luxury goods, you’ll find what you need.  

Prioritizing the in-person shopping experience, the new location takes you on a journey through multi-brand footwear and apparel over the course of three floors.  On the top floor, you’ll even find the newly launched VRSNL, a women’s-focused luxury boutique.  Offering high-end streetwear and sportswear, VRSNL was unveiled on the site last month. Here you can also find Concepts Cafe for beverages and made-to-order food. Can you believe people say you can’t have it all?

The new flagship location opened on October 24, 2020. Read our interview with Tarek Hassan, Darin O’Brien and Deon Point below.

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How long has your team been working on this project?  Was there ever hesitation to not continue when COVID started shutting down stores?

Tarek Hassan: We’ve been working on this project for over two years, and there were some unanticipated delays that have come along with COVID-19. The brick and mortar retail experience has always been a top priority for us as a brand, so we have continued in the safest way possible for all employees and crew working on the store. We felt that the new store was something for our community to look forward to, and we wanted to bring some excitement into a year that has been hard for many reasons.

What do you see as the future for physical locations?  

Darin O’Brien: Concepts started in brick and mortar and since then we’ve been committed to our physical retail locations. Brick and mortar storytelling is what Concepts does best, and we’ll continue to have an invested interest in it. When it comes to e-comm, it’s an access point for fans and consumers to see who we are as a brand, but brick and mortar creates an intimate and irreplaceable relationship with customers; its a memorable experience.

How do you stay consistent with creativity when there are so many brands and companies out now?

Deon Point: Behind everything we do, there’s a storytelling aspect. That storytelling helps grab the attention of consumers and keeps them engaged. We put so much thought behind everything we do, and I think people connect to it on an emotional level, which keeps our fans and community coming back to Concepts as a brand time and time again.

As a former buyer, I know the complexities of picking out the best product to cater to your customers; it’s a mix of art meets science.  How do you approach your assortment?

Tarek Hassan: Since the beginning, our strength at Concepts has been in balancing what we know our community wants and also introducing them to new and exciting product and brands through our specific lens of street lux. We approach each brick and mortar location and our eComm platform differently, to ensure we have a laser-sharp and tailored offering to speak to our audiences around the world, but everything is focused through the Concepts voice. 

[On Concepts’ homepage, the first thing a visitor sees is a banner speaking to Black Lives Matter resources.]  As a staple in the streetwear game, how important was it for you to address this?

Tarek Hassan: Since the founding of Concepts, we’ve always wanted to use our brand platform to create awareness, drive change and provide resources and education around causes that are important to us. Concepts is immersed in the culture of streetwear, music, sport and fashion. A large part of culture stems from the Black community, unfortunately with very little sense of equality or acknowledgement. In addition to using our social media, e-commerce and retail platforms as a resource for our employees and community, we are tirelessly working to take action, whether it is through high-heat sneaker raffles with 100% of proceeds benefiting organizations such as My Brother’s Keeper and the National Police Accountability Project, or through our upcoming quarterly Town Hall series that aims to engage the local community around voting.  

How do you feel about the state of streetwear and Boston’s place in it?  For such a historically conservative city, Concepts has managed to stay innovative and progressive.

Deon Point: Boston definitely has an appetite for streetwear, and our fan base has proven that. It’s a city full of young creatives and thinkers, and a lot of them look to us to provide new and exciting moments for fashion, through our collaborations or new brands that we carry. Our success in this city shows that Boston shouldn’t be overlooked as a city with great style.

I’m personally SUPER excited about VRSNL.  As a woman and a lover of streetwear, it’s always been difficult to find brands that cater to women in an authentic way.  Can you tell me a little more about how this idea came to life? Did you approach this endeavor differently?

Tarek Hassan: The VRSNL brand has been in the works for quite some time, but we’ve been focused on bringing it to life in the right way. With the new store on Newbury Street, it was the ideal time for us to launch VRSNL and speak to our luxury oriented consumers. We really approached this the same way we approach all our projects, which is with authenticity and a commitment to our consumers. It’s a brand partner to Concepts, and you’ll continue to see key storytelling moments through the VRSNL brand, in the same way you do from Concepts.

You have locations in Boston, NYC, Dubai, and Shanghai….what’s next?  

Tarek Hassan: Right now we’re focused on the Boston flagship store and an upcoming store in New York City, but for the future of Concepts, the sky's the limit.

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