There were days when dress shoes and collared shirts were the required wardrobe if you wanted to set foot in a Las Vegas nightclub. It wasn’t that long ago—we remember the aughts—but you wouldn’t believe it if you saw today’s doormen pairing Stan Smiths with suits.
Dress codes didn’t go away or devolve—sneaker culture just became mainstream.
“I remember [doormen] staring me in the face, and I had to name-drop 20 people just to get in because I had my Jordans on. It was completely taboo,” recalls Lowell Raven, a Los Angeles native who helped create the shoe culture in Santa Barbara with sneaker boutique and lifestyle shop CRSVR and moved to Las Vegas when a second location opened at The Cosmopolitan.
After reteaming with CRSVR creator Nick Sakai for 12AM:RUN at The Linq Promenade in 2014, Raven was struck with the idea of a “shoe dry cleaner” that caters to 12AM’s clientele of athletes, celebrities and “sneaker heads” who, like Raven, proudly sport a collection of high-end and limited-edition footwear.
“Now I probably have 200–250 [pairs],” he says of his own set. “At the most I’ve had, like, 500.”
This fall, Raven and his business partner, Jesse Babico, will open The Lave Gallery, a premium drop-off sneaker cleaner and curated retail spot in Las Vegas’ Chinatown (3533 Valley View Blvd., thelavegallery.com), a short walk from Mayweather Boxing Club.
“That [location] made the most sense,” he says. “I think it plays hand in hand with what we’re trying to do.”
Every pair of shoes will be hand-washed, Raven explains, showing off Lave’s secret weapon: an eponymous brand of cleaning products he helped create using coconut and jojoba oils.
“When you go out after you’ve cleaned your shoes, you smell like a cleaner,” he says. “That was one of the main things I didn’t want our product to have—that cleaner smell.
“I derived the scent from a candle I found a long time ago. It’s based on vanilla and tobacco.”
The Lave (pronounced like save) solution will be among the gallery’s launch products, with plans to add wipes and other items based on the formula and scent. Raven says the typical customer will get a pair of shoes back in two to three days, although, he explains, “if you need a rush done, we can do it in probably an hour or so, for a fee.”
“I’ll be back there washing and cleaning shoes myself,” he says.