This week, Sportswear International presents sneaker store asphaltgold from German city Darmstadt (near Frankfurt/Main). We talked to the owner and sneaker expert, Daniel Benz about latest trends, new brands and 60-year-old fashion enthusiasts. Interview by Bruno Burck

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Retro running is the main theme at asphaltgold. The selection is always wide. There’s a big diversity of models that were developed from the ‘80s throughout the late ‘90s and are being reactivated­ nowadays.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
The main part of our costumers is well-informed about what is going on in the sneaker world. People often already know what kind of style they are looking for and only make their choice between brands.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is the communication with regular customers?
We order our sneaker selection directly from the labels. The purchasing behaviour in the sneaker business is rather conservative. There are many successful styles for several seasons. Often there are just new color combinations or materials to it. Major blogs seem to be the most important information platforms for the latest trends. Moreover, the communication with the customer and his shopping behaviour are of major importance for us. If a customer is keen on a new label, that in our opinion has a significant authority in the sneaker culture, we are definitely thinking about expanding our product range.

How does the sneaker for next summer look like?
For s/s 2012, the lightweight running theme is really strong in the collections of many brands. They use functional materials for a slim shoe silhouette. I would say the sneaker for summer 2012 is a modern ‘tournament’ running shoe, but adjusted to peoples’ casual lifestyle.

What are the most important trends, in general?
In the sneaker business it’s a little harder to talk about trends – especially in comparison to the fashion, denim- or casualwear world. We are not tied to follow trends. However, as I said, the lightweight running theme is important among some labels. Furthermore, there will be some hybrid styles where new technologies will be added to sneaker classics.
asphaltgold interior
asphaltgold interior

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
In 2012, we are looking forward to welcome Asics Sportstyle at asphaltgold. The highlight for every sneaker fan is the relaunch of the brand’s ‘90s Runners Gel Saga.

How does asphaltgold differ from other stores?
In general, if you run a sneaker store, the customer service is really important. We try to answer every special request with full commitment and give customers who are looking for a special style professional support. Next to the daily business, we regularly organize parties and open the store for friends in the evening for a ‘sneaker check’ with cold drinks and good music.

What do you like about your customers?
Our customers are really multifaceted. There are so many different conversations and you always meet very interesting personalities. From sneaker nerds to 60-year- old fashion enthusiasts - we are happy to welcome everybody in our store.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
Both, the online shop ( as well as the real store have a clean design. We want the people to focus on the product. In fact, we just have a comfortable couch in the middle of the store where our customers can get comfortable with their newly selected sneaker favorites.