Freshness Feature: OPIUM – Paris

By - June 8th, 2007

Photos & Interview by HOON-PARIS
Produced by Poe

Situated just a few city blocks from Paris’ Centre Georges Pompidou is a sneaker store unlike most. Been Paris’ epic-center of sneaker culture since 2000, Opium usually receive the most exclusive Nike sneakers before any other stores in the City of Lights. Talked to the Opium family, however, and they pride themselves more as a museum on sneakers than just a sneaker store. Adorned the interior of the store is an envia:ble collection of original and rare issues. A collection any sneakerheads would really appreciate, even if they can’t purchase them.

Earlier this year, Freshness’ friends at HOON-PARIS visited the store as it undergoes a brief transformation for the Air Force 1 25th Anniversary celebration and chatted with the crew briefly on their history, inspirations and the culture as a whole…

OPIUM
9 Rue du Cygne | Map (French Only)
75001 Paris, France
TEL #: +331-42-33-55-83

> OPIUM

Feature continue after the jump…

How all of this got its start?

We are all great friends, ever since our childhood years. We all have the same passion as well, for street and sneaker culture. Back in the late 80s, we were all into break-dancing, Rap music and/or graffiti. It was really the beginning of Hip Hop culture in France and we are all quite nostalgic about that period of time.

We always wanted to create a sneakers museum/store. A place where you can truly get that sense of the late 1980’s nostalgia. That opportunity came in October of 2000.

Why the name “Opium”?

The name represents something that is precious and rare! It is what our store is all about. We made Opium into more than just a store. It is also a museum on sneakers. It maybe the only real sneaker museum in the world that we know of.

Any retailers, especially newly establish ones, always face certain challenges. Opium had any during its 7 years of operation?

Of course! One of the most difficult part was to find the right people to work with, especially during the first few years. At the time, the business concept of selling sneakers just started here is France.

Inspirations are very important factors, particularly when you are out doing something that is completely different from the rest. Where do your get your inspirations from?

The Hip Hop culture definitely played a big part for us and it still does today. We’re all from the streets, we started a graffiti crew back in 1987, so all of our inspirations come from the streets. Also, we look towards brands known for their early association with that culture, such as Troop, Baldwin, Starter, Double Goose, and or course Nike.

How is the sneaker culture today in France? And how different it is when compared to the United States?

Now, the sneaker culture in France is one of the most important ones in the world. For example, when you look at the sales stats of the iconic Nike Air Jordan. France ranked second, just after United States. The same with Hip Hop record sales and many other things that are street culture related. Here at Opium, our best model in terms of sales is the Air Max 1. All that says a lot since everything is linked some how…

But France is still behind the U.S. when it comes to sub-culture and the culture of collecting

In terms of business, it is more and more like the U.S. now. Customers, especially kids, all want the same product at the same time. It will just be a matter of time before people in Paris all line up and sleep in front of the store before a sneaker release…

What’s next for the Opium crew?

We are working on a few things right now. There will be a apparel collection that we’re launching this coming Winter. And there are some very nice collaborations that will come very soon…

Our thanks to the crew of Opium and HOON-PARIS !!!

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