Would You Shop at a Shoe Store Where You Can’t Take Your Purchases Home?

A new type of boutique crops up in Soho

A time long, long ago (ok, we’re actually talking about the early ’90s, not long before Zappos was founded) the notion of buying shoes online was a bit stupefying. We all wondered how were you supposed to try boots on and what to do if they don’t fit. As it turns out, shopping for shoes online didn’t end modern civilization. As a culture, we are now completely comfortable with ordering a few sizes (and/or styles) to make sure our online purchases are worth their while.

Now, in the year 2016, it seems that digital-only brands are flipping the script on how to buy direct-to-consumer, as they introduce try-on only shops.

In a way, this is a throwback to the shoe store of the past, where silver metal Brannock measuring devices littered the floor and the shelves were stocked with styles that members of the whole family could purchase. However, these new shoe shops have been appropriately updated for the modern shopper, iPads and all.

Inside the M. Gemi pop-up

Inside the M. Gemi pop-up Photo: Courtesy M. Gemi

M.Gemi has introduced their first Try-On Shop, alluring customers with the promise of interactive events and the opportunity to slip shoes on, but not take them home. Offering 55 styles to–you guessed it–try on, the boutique’s selection of Italian handcrafted shoes will be frequently updated; new women’s styles will be introduced every Monday. You can also customize the brand’s signature moccasins in store, choosing from 100 options of suede, stitching, pegs and, of course, monograms. These shoes will take eight to ten weeks to arrive on your doorstep, as each is hand-sewn by Norina, the brand’s Italian “loafer guru.” Custom mocs aside, M.Gemi purchases will take only one to two business days to materialize chez toi. (Though, we were told that if you really need a pair of shoes, for a last minute event or something along those lines, M.Gemi might let you take home a pair from the shop.)

Inside the M. Gemi shop

Inside the M.Gemi shop Photo: Courtesy M. Gemi

While you slip on stilettos or lace up sneakers, M.Gemi will offer up a slew of Italian treats, from pastries to Prosecco. Their in-house bar is also stocked with cocktails (including Negronis) and coffee from Intelligentsia. As for special events, the six month pop-up will host a Sunday dinner series in conjunction with local restaurants and influencers, to celebrate the following Monday’s shoe launch. Other weekly events will include floral arrangement courses with BloomThat and fitness classes taught by Pure Barre.

More M. Gemi kicks

More M.Gemi kicks Photo: Courtesy M. Gemi

So while you won’t be able to take your purchases home on the same day, M.Gemi makes the shopping experience feel fresh, interactive and best of all, fun. Perhaps that’s a worthy consolation prize for having to wait a few days for a new pair of shoes?

The Shoe Park storefront

The Shoe Park storefront Photo: Courtesy Everlane

If you do want to take home a pair of shoes from a digital focused, direct-to-consumer brand, head to Everlane’s Shoe Park on September 23, for all your fall footwear shopping needs. Alongside streamlined Chelsea boots and cognac oxfords, shoppers can indulge in a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee or pamper their skin at Glossier‘s Balm Dotcom Bar.

Everlane, the go-to purveyors of white t-shirts and crisp cotton button downs, first entertained New York shoppers with their Shoe Park this past May. The shop was an interactive spot where shoes could be purchased on the spot; naturally there were plenty of opportunities to snap social media pics. The space was designed by Robert Storey, the same architect who designed the playground-inspired space for the summer pop-up; this time around he’s stuffed 83 Wooster Street with over 550 tropical plants.

A launch party is slated to take place on the evening of the 23rd, open to the public from 7 to 10 p.m., but Everlane will also host Shoe Park Evenings, with details to be revealed over social media. Simply follow along on social media with #ShoePark for updates, until the shop closes on October 23.

Would You Shop at a Shoe Store Where You Can’t Take Your Purchases Home?