It was all a dream for four friends studying, living and throwing parties in Reno. When fashion enthusiast and personal shopper Ajay Bouri; DJ and marketing maverick and current talent director of RPM Nightclub Ejay Luera; Aaron White, known to most of Las Vegas as DJ Ikon; and sales guru Keith Lavazzi reunited in Las Vegas, the boys watched their love for style and DJ culture grow into something bigger when they opened Feature Sneaker Boutique in December 2010. Decorated with urban art from local artists and custom-designed park benches, the family-owned and operated boutique nestled in Chinatown is the only Las Vegas store to sell exclusive brands such as Supra, Android Homme and New Balance Lifestyle.
Because you have all worked in the nightlife scene, would it be fair to say that your brand selections are “for us, by us”?
Ikon: I think you can wear almost all of them in the club. We try to formulate it by our personal shopping, like these are the brands that we’re wearing out [to the clubs], so we try to keep that in mind when we pick out our shoes. We try to carry limited-edition shoes, shoes you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere because they only make a couple hundred of them worldwide.
Luera: I think nightlife has changed a lot, too—the vibe. You can get away with a funkier, more fashionable dress code.
Ikon: Thank LMFAO for that.
Luera: It’s true. Five or six years ago it had to be a collared shirt and dress shoes and now you see high tops sticking out and it’s totally acceptable if it’s fashionable.
How have your pasts in nightlife helped you with the store?
Luera: It’s interesting because we really thought that our connection to nightlife was going to drive the store, and I don’t know if that has come to fruition as much as [it has because of ] certain people in nightlife who drive the store.
Bouri: I think the biggest thing is the exclusivity of what we sell. This is a unique market in the sense that people are constantly willing to try something new and willing to do something different. Our customers have put faith in us and the stuff we buy they’re willing to try, even though they’ve never heard of it. So that has driven this kind of cult following of core people that consistently shop here. Like Jai Shaun White, who works at Surrender, he’s in here every week and people look to him to get their cues on how to dress and what’s cool.
Ikon: Jai Shaun’s great because we’ll just send him a text, like, “Hey, got some new stuff,” and he just comes and gets it because he wants to be seen in it; he trusts Ajay’s eye. When [Ajay’s] passionate about a brand, even if we’re not really passionate about it, we tend to say, “OK, cool” and we just trust him. I think that passion rubs off on us and that’s why we went into business.
Bouri: I think that’s the other thing that’s become kind of cool for us is those guys have become somewhat of our marketing team, as crazy as it sounds. But those guys send us a lot of business because they like what we sell.
Do you have a lot of customers from out of town?
Bouri: Because of the products we sell, we definitely get a lot of people from out of town and people from foreign places. A lot of these brands are new and upcoming, but there’s a lot of hype around them.
Ikon: Yesterday we had someone who walked from The Mirage because he saw we sold Switch sunglasses and he can’t get them in Detroit.