Sneakers and streetwear are typically all about the flash and not about the practically. So, when a company like Shrine Rack comes along and combines the best of both worlds, they’re going to grab your attention. Started by industrial designer Fernando Robert, Shrine Rack caters to sneakerheads who want to protect their investments once their kicks are off their feet. Their innovative Shrine Sneaker Rack allows you to display your kicks as art with a thoughtfully-designed wall-mounted bracket system. But, coming soon is Shrine Rack’s most innovative product yet: the sneaker bag, which is the ultimate travel bag as it cleanly and safely compartmentalizes your kicks, accessories, clothing, even hats. We caught up with Fernando to get the scoop behind these groundbreaking ideas and what’s up next for his San Francisco-based company. Read on and make sure to check out Shrine Rack online and follow their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest.
WHAT FIRST GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO CREATE THE SHRINE SNEAKER RACK?
When I first got into creating the shrine sneaker rack, I was heavy into shoe design projects. I knew Sneakerheads kept their boxes stashed away in closets, and it seemed silly to hide them. I wanted them to be able to show them off. I consider some sneaker designs to be a real work of art. I’m intimately familiar with the design process and see it as an intensely artistic endeavor. So I thought, “How can I display them in an interesting way on the wall?” I really wanted to show of the bottom of the shoe, which I think is one of the most interesting details. I held up a pair of shoes in the way I thought would be the best to display them on a wall and worked from there to create a rack to hold them in that position.
HOW WAS THE PROTOTYPING PROCESS? DID YOU WORK WITH OTHER MATERIALS, OR WERE YOU ALWAYS SET ON STEEL?
Originally, I thought it could be made of acrylic and pinned into the wall. But after prototyping and realizing how heavy shoes are themselves, I knew I needed wall screws and a material that was durable enough for screws. Plus, I didn’t want the rack to take away from the shoes. Stainless steel is durable, it can be laser cut, and it’s classic and strong. It also kind of disappears because it’s this neutral grey color. I wanted the shoes to appear as if floating on the wall. Since I have a background in industrial design, I was very familiar with the prototyping aspect of it. I did some prototypes in cardboard, and found a local metal shop that was willing to do some small batches. It took us some tinkering to figure out the right angle for the top arm that works with various types of high tops and low tops. That was back in 2008.
WITH YOUR BACKGROUND IN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, DO YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF PROJECTS FROM YOUR COLLEGE DAYS YOU’D LIKE TO BRING TO LIFE (OR LOOK BACK AND LAUGH AT)?
My college projects mostly sucked; I wouldn’t want to pursue them (laughs). Of course that was more than 10 years ago. I’d say my design tastes have evolved since then, and I have come into my own style and am really satisfied with the direction my design aesthetic has progressed.
YOU’RE FROM ARGENTINA, WENT TO SCHOOL IN SAVANNAH, GA, AND NOW YOU’RE IN SAN FRANCISCO. DO YOU FEEL YOU’VE FOUND YOUR CREATIVE ‘HOME’ IN SF?
Absolutely. I’m never leaving. Ever.
THE SHRINE RACKS SEEM TO BE GARNERING PRAISE FROM BOTH SNEAKERHEADS AND PEOPLE LOOKING FOR A SPACE-SAVING WAY TO STORE THEIR SHOES. WHAT RESPONSE HAVE YOU RECEIVED FROM THE PRODUCT?
It’s been great. It’s nice to see how popular the product has become. It’s tough getting the word out there, but everyday more and more people are finding out about The Shrine. It’s nice because it’s created a reputation for me, now when I approach people about my new projects, including my sneaker backpack, they say “oh yeah, you’re the guy who’s created the racks.” It’s solidified the brand as a “Sneakerhead” product line.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PAIR OF KICKS?
My favorite pairs of all time are either the Nike Air Max Charles Barkley 1994’s in white/black/purple, or the 1995 Nike Air Maestro’s in black/white. I like a lot of the new designs coming from Leo Chang who’s doing the Kevin Durant line, some of the new stuff is really interesting.
RETAILERS LIKE FINISHLINE, 424 FAIRFAX, AND KICKS ADDICTION HAVE SCOOPED UP SHRINE RACKS; HAVE YOU HAD ANY CELEBRITY CLIENTS OR BIG INDIVIDUAL ORDERS?
There’s a lot of interest in our Instagram page from some big name athletes and musicians, but right now we can’t really say any names.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH SHRINE RACKS SO FAR?
Finding the right partners to grow the business can be tricky. Also, learning the business of retail and ecommerce. However, every mistake is a learning experience.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS OR PROUDEST MOMENT SO FAR?
Launching the Kickstarter campaign, although it didn’t reach its funding goal it worked great as a proof of concept experiment. When we went live, people showed a lot of interest in the Sneaker Pack, which really confirmed the thought that there’s a market for this product and we were on the right track. It was really rewarding to know that an idea I had for more than a year was validated by a strong interest from the sneaker community and beyond.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE BUSINESS GROWING IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
We’d like to see The Shrine bag line expand into a full luggage line. We are currently working on new variations of the shoe and sneaker racks, so you’ll see that in the near future. We are working to get the Shrine Sneaker Backpack into high-end sneaker boutiques, collaborating with certain artists, and being known as a brand creating travel goods for the sneaker enthusiast.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE UPCOMING SNEAKER PACK IN TERMS OF DESIGN AND FEATURES?
The Shrine Sneaker Pack features a specialized compartment that holds two pairs of your best sneakers, and it’s big enough to hold up to men’s size 18 US. There are tie down straps that hold them in place so you know they’ll be protected and pristine while you travel. There’s also a compartment for your clothes for a quick weekend trip and the two compartments are separated by a “gear wall” that has specially designed pockets for watches, electronics, and jewelry. Another really cool feature is one we borrowed from some hiking backpacks but with our own unique twist: we have a pullout hood that holds your flat-billed caps in place on top of the pack. We know the sneaker enthusiast and want them to have all the gear they want to carry with them arriving fresh and ready.
LASTLY, WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND SHRINE RACKS?
Immediately we’re working on the follow-up duffle for the backpack with the intention of expanding that line, and explorations with some new fabric and prints for the Sneaker Pack. The Shrine is going to rapidly expand our selection and brand reach within the next year. It’s a very exciting time.