I met, Daniel Davis, the Owner of For Rent Shoes at a fashion networking event and he was a breath of welcome fresh air. His style was different and I could tell he was not from the normal fashion life here in Baltimore. I was kind of shocked, as I always am when people introduce themselves to me, and especially shocked when they know what I do. That amazes me, but off of me and back to Mr. Davis.
Of course the conversation was about F-A-S-H-I-O-N, but this conversation had a slight twist to it. Not only did we discuss fashion, but we discussed fashion in the direction of footwear, tennis shoes, sneakers, or kicks, just a few nick names that will lead you into the interview.
Of course when he told me about it, my first comment AFTER I observed his passion was you should think about participating in fashion week. All he did was look at me and smile. That event, conversation, and smile is what has lead me to this interview and you to a new place to shop for foot-gear in Baltimore.
Let’s take a walk on the wild side of fashion for a bit and jump into the creative brain waves of Mr. Davis, as I conduct an interview with this exciting entrepreneur.
EXAMINER: What type of business do you own?
DAVIS: Concept apparel, accessory, footwear and art store.
EXAMINER: At what point in your life did you decide that this is the type of business you wanted to start, and why? In other words what was your inspiration?
DAVIS: I have designed custom painted shoes for the last six years. I have always had an interest in fashion, but after living in Europe for a year my passion hit a whole new level. I wanted to bring that quality and forward thinking design aesthetic to the US.
EXAMINER: Who is the target audience for your business?
DAVIS: We are aiming to cultivate the ‘Urban Hipster’ in Baltimore. Urban Hipsters aren’t a group that is defined by age, but more by style influences. We will have every thing from high-tops, to boots, to loafers. Everything will have an undeniable design appeal and impeccable construction. We aim to please and entertain the fashion driven.
EXAMINER: What type of service do you offer?
DAVIS: We offer apparel, accessories, footwear, art and customized pieces from any of those categories.
EXAMINER: Since the start of your business, what obstacles, if any have you had to overcome?
DAVIS: So far location has been the largest obstacle. For Rent Shoes is purposefully ambiguous and ‘hidden’ behind its deceptively simple signage. So finding a spot that offered the room to create a true destination shopping experience while not being on the main shopping streets was difficult. We didn’t want to rely on foot traffic like your run of the mill big box chains. We are a destination and experience for those in the know.
EXAMINER: In one sentence, could you tell the readers why they should consider your shoes, when there are so many other brands to select from?
DAVIS: For Rent Shoes is the only all exclusive lifestyle store in the greater Baltimore, DC area that can guarantee you won’t see the pieces you buy in our store walking down the sidewalk next to you.
EXAMINER: How will your shoe business impact the fashion industry in Baltimore?
DAVIS: We hope to become a destination for fashion discovery and collaboration in Baltimore. Already before the opening we have created several collaboration pieces and exclusive lines with local designers. Our first gallery artist, Jordan Matthews, is a local MICA graduate. We will be featuring local neo-soul artist Chrissy Vasquez with life performances at our two exclusive launch parties on Oct. 18th and 19th. We want to bridge the gaps between all the different artistic mediums and give local brands and artists a launching pad to propel them into the next step of their career.
All of our staff members have career goals in an artistic field beyond just working in a retail environment. They are using their time in the store learning what they need to do to get their brands store ready, learning how to create marketing campaigns, and meeting leading industry professionals. The store is about promoting growth for the city of Baltimore.
EXAMINER: In your eyes, what would be considered to be the “ultimate” purchase at For Rent Shoes and why?
DAVIS: Since every product is intentionally limited and exclusive it is hard for me to choose. The products that I’m currently eyeing for myself are our shoes from German brand nat-2. Nat-2 is carried in 18 other countries, but we are their first and only physical US shop. Their in house created textiles are incredible and they are the first shoes anyone notices when they open up the door. I feel honored to have several brands that have given my new store US exclusives before we have even opened our doors for business. Just goes to show you that hard work, a great concept, and passion for what you’re doing goes a long way. It’s nice to see the good guy win sometimes.
EXAMINER: At the preview event on the 18th what can specially invited guests expect during your fall collection?
DAVIS: Our Fall collection is meant to shock the fashion senses of Baltimoreans and bring new brands and styling ideas to this area. I told the staff when I hired them that I only expected them to know 15% of the brands we would be representing coming in to the store. The idea is to offer high quality exclusive products that have never been available in the Baltimore, DC, Philly marketplace.
In order for a brand to get in to our store they have to give us at least one 100 Mile Exclusive. That means that product can’t be sold in either DC or Philly. In order for us to have more than three of their products we have to also receive an exclusive that isn’t being offered in NYC. Baltimore needs to become a fashion destination. There are a lot of people with great style in this city with nowhere local to turn.
EXAMINER: What is “your” fashion style?
DAVIS: My personal style changes with the seasons and based on where I’ve been traveling lately but at the moment it’s very Milan Runway. Oversized printed sweaters, tight dark dyed jeans, and slim high-top sneakers.
EXAMINER: Who is your favorite designer or what is your favorite retail store to shop at other than For Rent Shoes?
DAVIS: My favorite designer from a conceptual point is Alexander McQueen. The sculptural and artistic value of his apparel was insane.
My favorite wearable fashion and retail store is Burberry. Their clothes are truly worth the cost. Each piece has incredibly high quality and will last for years. I am a military brat that is a sucker for anything military inspired, so they are my go to brand.
EXAMINER: If you could shop anywhere in the world where would it be?
DAVIS: I love shopping in Rome. It has a great mix of British, German, Italian and Spanish designers. You get both the harsh and soft lines of highly styled fashion all in one city!
EXAMINER: Why did you select that location or region over every other place in the world
DAVIS: It is the melting pot of couture fashion culture.
EXAMINER: If you could be any fashion accessory what would it be and why?
DAVIS: If I could be any accessory I would be an engagement ring. They’re bold and get to be worn and admired every day, unlike other statement pieces that you can only be photographed in once.
VIP Premiere Event of For Rent Shoes featuring Michael Weferling, DJ REL, and Chrissy Vasquez is going down this Friday, October 18, 2013, sponsored by Red Apple Ale. I just have one question, did you get your invite yet? Check them out on the web – www.forrentshoes.com – you will not be disappointed.
Until my next article, you already know . . KEEP IT FASHIONABLE xoxo