We sat down to chat with Cristian Resende, founding partner of Cartel 011, where in the future it will be the new space for the brand. Coming from the interior of Minas Gerais to São Paulo, he tells his experiences with retail and what led him to create the Cartel 011 – a store concept that encompasses several universes in a single space, with fashion, art, gastronomy, and of course, sneakers.
He believes in the retail experience, going to the store, being able to see and feel the products live and how important this interaction is. In the interview, Cristian talks about his opinion on online sales, bots, the resell market, release schedule and how we need to rethink all this excessive consumption.
For his Kickstory, he chose to speak of a shoe that goes completely against this wave of excesses and “hypes”. Visvim, a famous Japanese brand, represents the slowed consumption process, as the products are developed in manual processes and ancient techniques with local producers. The goal of Hiroki Nakamura, owner of the brand, is to create products that have history, function and durability with the highest quality.
“I’m from the interior of Minas Gerais and I worked in two multi-brand stores there. I took this moment from the Company, work by Mauro Taubman, who for me was the great guy who made a young, cool, accessible brand and had his own DNA, a look a lot of what was going on out there. Those who didn’t have a Company backpack weren’t cool – it was one of the first things I came across as an object of desire. I started working at Primeira Lote, at the height of the Company. Then, in 90 , I refine the look and catch the pinnacle of Brazilian jeans and jeans – Ellus, Triton, Forum, Zoomp.”
What was your trajectory - from the time you had a store in Minas, until you opened the Cartel in São Paulo?
CristianIn 1996 I opened my first shoe store. There I sold adidas Torsion, the Gazelle Hemp at its peak, and obviously the entire black and white line of adidas Originals. And I also got the Schutz start with only a male shoe, selling papete half adventure, with a very good Spanish cork sole. Then I went to a bigger store and started selling clothes.
When 2004 arrives I want to leave Minas and come to São Paulo. I had a brand of t-shirt and sweatshirt that I already sold at Doc Dog. I came here, started working with a private label, closed the store there, and promised myself that I would never have retail again.
I met with Mário Protti and he asked me to work on a new Doc Dog project, with jeans. A year went by and he said “man, I want you inside Doc Dog taking care of the male”. Then he gave me everything I wanted most: at the age of 30 I was going to the Las Vegas fashion fair – Magic. You had all this male fashion market, like Stussy, Obey in an absurd boom. It was the “beginning” of this consolidated scenario that it has today. And bringing these brands from there, Doc Dog Sneakers was born.
At that time, we had Persio doing a very good job with Maze; Murinho, with Nike placing a bet on him to open The Lab and Igor of Kings, obviously, who was building his legacy. And I was at that point, Doc Dog’s total fashion with Mário letting me be able to travel and import brands, the dollar was not that high and there was a very good importation scheme for the company. So it was a time when I was very happy. Being able to buy cool stuff and bring cool stuff. I stayed until 2009, the company changed some guidelines and I decided to do other things. And there began the story of the Cartel.
I left Doc Dog, I was already living in Pinheiros, and my friends and I were at that moment through the home office, you know? With an office at home. But that didn’t work out very well – which is a bit of what we are experiencing now, we need this exchange, to talk, to see people. And then, without knowing the expression coworking, we started with shared offices, tables between friends. I already knew that I wanted to have a store and my partner, Fernando, really wanted to have a restaurant. I was about product and fashion, and he was more about event and art. So the coworking area was above, and below it was the gallery with events and exhibitions.
We even opened in 2009 and the first version in store was in October 2010, with the Jeremy Scott popup. In December we finish the pop up and become multi-brand. In 2013, we opened FootBox, already selling all brands.
“A Louis Vuitton with Virgil and this is a very radical change for the market, because these big brands are starting to join with the mainstream market. If you look, what’s happening on the scene today is this Instagram reference, everyone is the same, everyone is drinking the same references.”
What was the Brazilian street scene like when you started and what were the influences of the time?
CristianThe street scene in the 90s, was only of national surf brands. It still had a fashion reference from Rio de Janeiro, it was not as urban as it is today. And fashion was dictated by TV, buying an imported magazine like The Face, for example, was very expensive, and hard to find. Then, because of the clubber scene, you start to have the magazines of the time – Trip, Mundo Mix, in 2006 Erika Palomino launched the magazine Key, which was super relevant for that time too. But the information did not come the way it does today.
Back in the day, we bought sports shoes at a sports store. But the stylists of a The Face, an ID or a Dazed already mixed the sport with the casual. It was not the brands that created this link. It was the work of this generation of stylists, of this behavior, of this period that began to mount looks in editorials that had more of this mixture. Obviously, you have the classics from Cortez, Air Force, from Dunk, they have all these stories, but this product that today culminated in these super hybrid sneakers, with sport technology that is sold in casual, this was born from fashion styling from magazines .
Yesterday I saw a post that spoke about this period of digital information, that it is being an information just for everything – everyone is repeating themselves over a hype. It is difficult to see something fresh in the independent scene for example, you have a Dior, a Céline changing absurdly, a Louis Vuitton with Virgil and this is a very radical change for the market, because these big brands are starting to join with the mainstream market. If you look, what’s happening on the scene today is this Instagram reference, everyone is the same, everyone is drinking the same references.
Cartel 011 has a very important history in the Brazilian streetwear scene, as a platform for young and urban fashion. For some years you were the only physical store in Latin America to sell NikeLab. How was this project?
CristianTo have a NikeLab in Brazil, in 2013, we had to create the FootBox. There it was a process designed together with Nike. They started coming here because it was the World Cup and Olympics, and they needed a store that spoke more than just what they call a ‘label’ – this ‘obsessed sneakers’ thing, on the street, that store slatwall seawall, selling sneakers with a straight brim cap. Especially because, the first product to be launched at that time would be Nike with Riccardo Tisci, and that was fashion, right? There was no reference to streetwear.
At that time Leandro Maia worked at YourID and I followed him on Instagram. I liked his look and his work. When we opened FootBox, the first launch was the Camo pack, and on the day that Lee went to buy, I said “You will come to work with me, from Doc Dog I will accompany you”. And then we started the journey together, we did a very good job for Nike, especially during this period.
But it is worth remembering that we started the store with adidas x Jeremy Scott. Tiane Alan, who is now in Germany, was very visionary, she understood what we wanted to do. She said that Jeremy would be coming to Brazil. I had already sold Jeremy Scott at Doc Dog, one of the first golden wings, but I never imagined that I was going to have the sneakers in the store and that Jeremy was going to come here and gente would take care of everything – from the interviews, receiving him, having the party in the center on the terrace of Edifício Planalto. It was a very big start.
“Access is what, people sleeping in line? I think it’s a great lack of respect for you to put a consumer to sleep at the door of the store for three days. And why is it that a customer who buys regularly, who has a relationship with the store, why can’t we create a loyalty club? He’s loyal, this customer is here and he’s buying, he has a history, he deserves … this is a controversial subject that only reaffirms how much I keep fighting.”
You can see that you care a lot about the consumer's experience of going to the physical store, and having contact with the products. Thinking that you were selling exclusive sneakers for a moment of bots, online sales, hyped sneakers and resellers, what do you think has changed in this experience?
CristianMy client isn’t even going to the store when these hypes products arrive, because he thinks he won’t be able to buy. So online helped access, but before I couldn’t sell NikeLab online. Nike said “you have to sell in the physical store, you have to give the customer access”. Access is what, people sleeping in line? I think it’s a great lack of respect for you to put a consumer to sleep at the door of the store for three days. And why is it that a customer who buys regularly, who has a relationship with the store, why can’t we create a loyalty club? He’s loyal, this customer is here and he’s buying, he has a history, he deserves … this is a controversial subject that only reaffirms how much I keep fighting.
And you know, it doesn’t have to be the ball club. It’s boring. sneaker is a code, it is an element of a youth culture. He doesn’t have to turn what he’s turning into. sneaker is for spending, is for wearing, you know? It is to be young, it is to live. But if you stay there with your sneakers, that fetish, objectify … all excess for me comes from a lack.
We used to sell sneakers that didn’t have any hype, that time was tastier. I don’t see any reseller talking or knowing what a Nike Inneva is. And it was a sneaker that arrived and sold a lot, very fast, with a cool color chart. But like that, because it was for that consumer who likes it.
The release schedule is very fast. Today I think it is difficult for a young person, in a month, to be able to buy all the releases, he already has to choose what he is going to buy. He may have the money, but I think it hits “why am I going to buy more?” No more. And yet the purchase process has become exhausting, it is no longer pleasurable. Does it cause you anxiety, does it cause you anguish, will you be drawn or not? And I don’t know if this is compatible with the period we are living in pandemic and post-pandemic, when we are rethinking whether this continues to make sense.
And now we are going to enter the worst period because at the end of the year, prices will be very high and it is not just because of the exchange rate. Brazil is a country with a serious problem of economy, of predictability, you see that some brands have retreated investment a lot for that reason. A mainline product will now be priced at a zero tier product. Purchasing power will decrease because wages are not increasing, we are experiencing inflation, a lot of recession, people without jobs and such. And then, if these sell out numbers do not turn around, buying and importing will also start to decrease. So it is a great proof that we have in the coming years of how this market will be sustained. So this whole reseller fight, I don’t know what, made up the reality of the business a lot.
How do you see this moment in the market, where not always those who are buying the products are the consumers who want to have them?
CristianRecently, due to resellers, we weren’t selling to the final consumer. So I don’t know to what extent I can consider this sale to be a real sale, in the sense that, if I’m communicating directly with that consumer who likes and wants. I become almost a distributor from one end of the sale to the next, almost a wholesaler. Are people not tired of having to buy from resellers, of having to go after it, and pay an inflated amount? I see a lot of friends saying “bitch, I wanted to buy this shoe so much and I can’t do it”. But who’s buying this shit? Because we’re not seeing it either. Who’s using it? What will happen from now on, will we have a lap of this?
Looking at Ian (Kickstory) he is very well dressed: the Oxford shirt, with cargo pants in the right navy tone, the super neutral camel sneakers, the The North Face bag. And this is not about hype, this is cool, it shows that Ian knows how to dress, that he does not need to buy the latest look or the latest trend. He has personality, he spends his money right. It is this consumer today that I want to talk to.
“Recently, due to resellers, we weren’t selling to the final consumer. So I don’t know to what extent I can consider this sale to be a real sale, in the sense that, if I’m communicating directly with that consumer who likes and wants. I become almost a distributor from one end of the sale to the next, almost a wholesaler. Are people not tired of having to buy from resellers, of having to go after it, and pay an inflated amount?”
There was a moment when you ended up taking a break from all this and went to spend time in Portugal. How was that process?
CristianI couldn’t take any more work, to see a whole business focused on a reseller making money on the consumer who understands, likes and just wants to wear sneakers. We were working to feed a parallel business. And then at the final launch of The Ten I freaked out and told Nike “this latest Air Max sale will be closed directly with my client”. I was slaughtered. There are a lot of people who don’t like us, but there are a lot of people who don’t know.
I was stressed and took the time to do this consultancy in Portugal. It was super important for me to understand the market there, and the entire industry that exists in Portugal with factories that make all New Guards Group sweatshirts – Off-White, AMBUSH and Opening Ceremony. It’s all from one group. And you connect very quickly there. What I did here in years, there I did in a year, to meet and connect with people and everything. Portugal is a gateway to Europe. But it is also an extremely complex market, it is not consumed as it is here, there is no frenzy here, it is a more conscious purchase. And that made me rethink a lot, the European mindset is very different from ours.
And this period led me to a question – it would have to be the last thing that I as a businessman and that I have a store should be talking about, but guys, do you really need to buy another sneaker? Will this money you invest in so many things make you grow as a person, be more interesting or cooler? You can spend less and just be you. So I think a new market is beginning to emerge with more awareness.
“This period led me to a question – it would have to be the last thing that I as a businessman and that I have a store should be talking about, but guys, do you really need to buy another sneaker? Will this money you invest in so many things make you grow as a person, be more interesting or cooler? You can spend less and just be you. So I think a new market is beginning to emerge with more awareness.”
We are doing this interview where the new space for Cartel 011 will be. What can you tell us about this new phase of the store?
CristianIf it weren’t for the pandemic process here it would already be open. There were two attempts to open and then lockdown. There is a whole project that will happen here and it would be possible to do another interview just talking about it (laughs).
Why did you choose to talk about visvim? And what made you choose the FBTs and the boot for Kickstory?
CristianBecause I’m wearing this Visvim boot: for me, business is much more about product design. I love sneakers, for the comfort and for what it represents within the most holy trinity of the young wardrobe, but, I have this reference of the utility. And I was able to buy this boot in Tokyo, at the visvim store. It was a hardship, a hardship to buy. It is difficult because they produce little and when it arrives at the store, it ends very quickly. They have a loyal consumer who buys. I stayed in Tokyo for 15 days, and always when I stopped by the store, I never had it. Then the salesman said “you have to let them know, pay, and then you come and withdraw”. It is another scheme, not for purchase to resell, it is different. You see that visvim does not fall much in reseller, even though it is expensive and limited, it is not a product that added this resale value hype. They built a beautiful brand that doesn’t change, it’s always the same thing. And I think that’s how the market is going to have to go back to being.
Visvim products are made to last a lifetime and to fulfill a function. The quality of materials and manufacturing processes are designed for footwear made to be used. Compared to others that you have and enjoy using, do you think this visvim sneaker reflects more with your current mindset?
cristianFor me it’s a lot about that. I like sneaker, I like wearing sneaker. All my white sneakers have the memory of the end of the party, you know? That wet road track, you know? sneaker for me is to wear, always has been. But I don’t have many … when it becomes ostentatious, it is no longer natural. For me it has to be a more fluid, more natural reflex.
Visvim is an independent brand that seeks quality. I bought these sneakers in 2007. We are in 2021 and they still sell these sneakers in suede, fringe, with beads. He created a classic. If you look at this product, its design is not old. If this design from the beginning of 2000 until today is a reference and relevant, this design is good. He passed the “test of time”. Not to mention the quality of the product: look at this leather, the nylon, the zipper is Riri, the details are impeccable.
What I realize is that lately a lot of bad stuff has been launched, bad design. It is not a thoughtful design. You have super good things, but lately we have seen others that you know are going to be born and die.
A product design that drinks from the classic but that has this hybrid face and that has a more contemporary design form that I have liked a lot is the New Balance 327. This is a design that looks back, which is retro, but has shapes and stability only in terms of design, sole, which is very good. This draws attention.
I can’t find any Off-White shoes, Off-White brand, good. The only sneakers that were good are Nike’s Off-Whites, which is the design of Nike doing. Then when you look at a pure Off-White sneaker it is a weird product.
Do you remember when your passion for sneakers started? When was that moment when you saw a couple and gave that special “click”?
cristianThis answer will have to be taken from the childhood trauma, it has even been used in therapy (laughs). Coincidentally today I have a red sweatshirt that talks a little about the thing about the miner, Catholic … which has to do with the story I’m going to tell.
I clearly remember the first sneakers that I really wanted to have and I couldn’t have. I was a child, that is, your parents are not going to buy many sneakers, right? Anyway, it was a vulcanized canvas sneaker, red and it was the beginning of this fashion back in the 80s of velcro sneakers. But in the end, it was just a red canvas sneaker, vulcanized with velcro. I looked at my mother with a twinkle in her eye and she said “I’m not going to buy these shoes, choose another one.” I said “Why, mom?” and she said: “Ah, these shoes are for girls … red velcro, these shoes are not for boys, choose one for boys.” That recorded in my head “people, but did I choose a girl’s sneakers?”. So there I understood that I already liked different shoes. It had a technology, it had no laces, it closed with Velcro. It was red, which is a strong, vibrant color, like blood, so in therapy I came to understand why I ended up enjoying working with shoes. When you are young, what they say “no”, marks you right? I didn’t go out with girl sneakers and I kept it on my head.
Making unisex sneakers with Mary Jane for me was a pleasure. Even though it was for both of them, I made the shoes thinking about the girl, about a girl’s skate brand … and the girl always had to buy the boy’s shoes to skate. And for me, that was the change, I could make sneakers for girls and boys that I wanted to wear.
We are very fans of this collaboration that they did with Mary Jane. What other collaborations did you enjoy doing as well?
cristianI did one with Converse. It was a trilogy on top of the Pro Model that told the story of the Pinheiros neighborhood: Mata Atlântica, an Atlantic forest print with insects, beetles and giant colored crickets; Indians, a deformed Indian basketwork in 3D that you looked at from a distance looked like a leopard print; and bandeirantes, the tall barrel made reference to horse stalls, with those arabesque press works. Each had the colors – the indigenous with the red sole, reference to the brazilwood. The pennants with the yellow sole, which was gold.
The first one with Rider was super pleasurable too and it was a ball inside us. The brand looked for us to make a slider. And I said “I only do it if it’s the icon of the 90s, the papete.” And they said “No, the paper is not in the collection.” And I said “In the 90s what sold the most was sandals, you have to have that in your collection.” It was a fight, but then they came up with a prototype, and I said “Guys, this is it. Do you agree? Let’s color it here, let’s get it right and stuff.” And then in 2016 we launched the RX paper and it became what you saw. It was something we created and it was really my bet.
I’m really enjoying collaborating with the national industry and people who are not hypada, you know? I like to bring things instead of doing a collaboration that will say “you can only do this, this or that”. Making this product with Mary Jane was so pleasant, being able to say what I wanted, being able to move and having autonomy.