When Champs Sports and DJ Khaled come together, unique ideas result. Think an exclusive, invitation-only store designed to mimic the Instagram-friendly artist’s shoe closet and to look good on film (and social media, of course). It’s placemaking at its finest.
Exclusive just might be the new accessible. Take the recently debuted “store” that opened in Miami, a collaboration between Champs Sports and social media superstar DJ Khaled. Yes, it is a store, but only the who’s who in entertainment and sports (or a friend of DJ Khaled) will be granted access to this #awesome space, although Khaled’s massive social media audience will be sure to get a glimpse.
An American record producer, radio personality, DJ and record label executive (and well-documented social media icon and shoe junkie), DJ Khaled has deep roots with Champs. As a Champs salesperson, he used to sneak copies of his mix tapes into customers’ bags as a way to promote his music and build his visibility, which is how he got his start. Champs revisited that legacy to work with him on a never-been-done project.
“As a teenager, DJ Khaled worked at Champs Sports’ Florida Mall store location in Orlando. He used his paychecks to purchase his DJ equipment,” describes Paul Dunnder, director, in-store brand experience for Champs Sports. “Fast-forward to today and Champs Sports continues to have a meaningful relationship with DJ Khaled.”
Located inside his We The Best record studios in urban Miami, a 540-sq.-ft. private, invitation-only Champs store brings the best of fashion footwear and music together—and adds a bit of intrigue and mystery to DJ Khaled’s We The Best Studios.
The idea for the store emerged from a Champs marketing campaign called “Cloth Talk,” which featured a series of interviews with notable sports stars, music icons and other sports ambassadors. The topic came up during an interview with Khaled and Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley in Khaled’s Miami home. Touring through Khaled’s private sneaker collection, Gurley was so amazed by the display that he said Khaled should have his own store. The idea became a reality just in time to be revealed at the 2016 REVOLT Music Conference—the project was designed and constructed in just three weeks leading up to the event.
“Both brands were influential in the design,” says Stan Kubinski, an associate at Boston-based architecture and interior design firm Bergmeyer Associates Inc., which partnered on the design. “The store needed to express Champs’ DNA yet contain an identity that would be true to the personality of DJ Khaled.”
“Khaled embodies the values that we share with our consumers—optimism, perseverance, growth and achievement,” Dunnder adds. “Khaled’s store serves as a platform to inspire our consumers and launch great product stories.”
The design team worked hard to create major impact in this small space. The overall color and materials palette speaks to the Champs brand, but was then styled and curated for this project to elevate the exclusive experience. The team wanted the space to still have an urban and raw appeal, yet present it in a refined way, so it looks special when captured on film or via social media.
Instead of oak, an exotic wood veneer with a premium finish was used, and natural metals were applied instead of the more utilitarian powdercoat finish in a typical store. The flooring is a tile with a concrete look instead of raw concrete, and the white brick has a premium finish, again to elevate the appearance. Every application offers a cleaner and more refined aesthetic.
“The storefront design mimics the storefront of an existing Champs store, but in an urban environment,” Kubinski describes. “Glass doors open through a brick wall, and on the opposite side, bold blue accent colors encapsulate the travel from Khaled’s private recording studio next door. His record label, ‘We The Best,’ is visible at the front door, created with beveled mirrors in order to capture the reflection of the store from the other side.”
The layout of the store offers flexibility for displays and graphics in order to accommodate the constantly changing marketing campaigns and promotional opportunities, and can transform to cater to special guests and product launches.
In the main area of the store, sneakers are the primary product focal point. Special or “key” sneakers are prominently located on the illuminated wall and bleacher tops. A small selection of hanging merchandise and featured graphics enhance the display. Glass walls provide a private entrance into a separate apparel room, with a hat wall creating a boutique atmosphere within this special store. Illuminated shelving and a “wall of game” memorabilia display enhance this space.
One of the highlights of the store is a detail that truly infuses the DJ Khaled brand into the interior. Khaled often references “the keys to success” and is known for his use of the “key” emoji on social media. This essential element of the Khaled brand was translated into the design in a subtle yet powerful way by hanging 1,721 keys from the ceiling. Each key is individually strung by fabric so that each turns and shimmers creating a wow factor within the space.
In addition to the ceiling detail, a custom display stand was created for dramatic product reveals. The sneakers are concealed until Khaled waves a hidden key fob at the side to trigger the display to be raised and illuminated from the cube below. The space also includes a custom-branded “We Know Game” table, a popular tagline used by Champs Sports.
Lighting plays a major role in the success of the space. The team worked with Reflex Lighting to specify lighting that translates well when photographed or filmed. With Khaled’s social media presence and the opportunity to use the space for filming commercials and interviews, the lighting had to be perfect.
“Usually you don’t think about how a space will look when filmed, but we really thought about that third-party experience as we designed, and how it would look on camera,” Kubinski says. “It was like a set or a stage, where we focused on maximum impact in a frame. Where is the hero shot and where can different shots take place? We studied at length the different lighting rendering qualities, so that the merchandise showed well when filmed.” The lighting strategy includes the backlit focal wall, under-counter LEDs, museum-quality track lighting and the backlit floating “key” ceiling.
While only a few selected guests will see this space in person, the “store” will have an immense presence in the social media world. “Champs Sports captures videos of DJ Khaled’s store conversations with his celebrity guests and shares the content via the digital platforms of Champs Sports and DJ Khaled,” Dunnder says. “‘Her Take,’ a weekly video series on sneaker culture, is hosted by Steph Lecor (female artist on Khaled’s music
label) and filmed from Khaled’s store.”
From the concept and carefully considered details to the three-week construction leading up to the big reveal, everything about this project delivers drama and impact. Champs and DJ Khaled come together again in an innovative way to create a truly one-of-a-kind experience and distinct promotional opportunity. #weknowgame #kicksonfire #sneakerlife
DJ Khaled Champs Sports Store
Bergmeyer Associates Inc.
Citywide Contracting LLC
Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.