Cambridge-based boutique Concepts is, for many interested in street fashion, best known for a series of three collaborations with Nike Skateboarding that released in the late 2000s. The two companies worked on Nike’s wildly popular SB Dunk Low silhouette and effectively channeled Boston through an unconventional theme: lobster.
The first sneaker, the “Red Lobster,” featured shades of red and pink with dark accent spots and a gingham lining that was reminiscent of the bibs often worn in Boston seafood restaurants. A blue rubber band stretched around the toebox finished the look seamlessly and the sneaker was a hit, selling out quickly. Soon after, the “Blue Lobster” was released (a very similar sneaker with coloring changes) which were just as popular, and the “Yellow Lobster,” another recolor, made an extremely exclusive run of 36 pairs, given only to friends and family. Eight years later, these three sneakers are universally recognized monuments and symbols of sneaker culture and any of them fetch incredibly high prices on the resale market.
To a portion of the community, this is where Concepts’s significance ends, but the rest are aware that Concepts is not only still around, but still active and prolific. The Lobster pack is now legendary, but it was also a stepping stone for both Nike Skateboarding and Concepts. Since the release, the team at Concepts has been hard at work, and it shows in the expansion and the staggering number of collaborations that have come to pass. Not only is there now a location in New York City, but this year alone has seen collections released in partnership with Diadora, Asics, New Balance, Clarks, and Birkenstock.
The store pushes the envelope again, though, with its latest collaboration. Though it seems most at home in the realm of footwear, Concepts has teamed up with techwear staple Arc’teryx for a simple, yet eye-catching take on two of the brand’s most popular items. The Beta SL, a lightweight, mid-length hooded jacket with full zip, gets dressed up in starkly contrasting black and white with large panels on the chest, back, sleeves, and pockets that are sure to turn heads. Arc’teryx’s Arro 22 backpack also gets the tuxedo treatment, with a bright white zipper and matching pull tab running vertically down the front of the pack. To the right of the zipper is Arc’teryx’s logo, and to the left, Concepts’s.
Not only do these pieces perfectly balance loudness and subtlety, but they are functional at their core, as well. The Beta SL boasts waterproof Gore-Tex fabric and is packable; the Arro 22 has waterproof zippers and can be fitted with a hydration hose. That functionality gets at what makes this collaboration so exciting and telling about how Concepts works.
The base models of these pieces that Arc’teryx sells are not cheap, but they also do not cater to the high fashion consumer. The jacket runs for about $300 and the pack costs around $200, but customers don’t have to visit a flagship or boutique to purchase them; they are already available on Amazon. These are high-end pieces of utilitarian wear, the kind of things that people wear hiking.
Arc’teryx has its own luxury line, but the beauty of the Concepts x Arc’teryx collection is that Concepts was able to combine practical clothing with style, taking items worn by everyday people and injecting its own attitude. The accessibility makes customers feel more comfortable about wearing these pieces; the quality is there, but there is nothing highbrow about it. That’s what makes Concepts such a powerhouse in the industry: it can take something that everyone is familiar with, like a waterproof jacket or a lobster dinner, and make it something special.
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