A walk through the purple foyer and down a set of stairs yields a bright, welcoming basement loft with a blue couch and flat-screen TV. The exposed brick walls and hardwood floors create a clean, simple atmosphere, while the display racks and silver tables are packed with colorful shoes, T-shirts and accessories.
Cleveland native Robert Rosenthal opened the first Next store in Shaker Heights in 1995 and quickly developed a loyal following among sneaker enthusiasts who depended on the store for exclusive designs from names such as Puma and Nike. But Rosenthal wanted to expand beyond his young male customers. So the Coventry location, the local chain’s third, also offers women’s clothing and high-end fashions.
“Reinvention is more important than success,” says Rosenthal, who notes that the diverse Coventry neighborhood brings in everyone from teenage boys to hip moms looking for new sandals.
The men’s clothing includes mostly casual denim and graphic tees, but the store carries some items unique to Cleveland, such as the Marc by Marc Jacobs line that includes black denim ($198) and a collection of contemporary outerwear ($169 to $398).
The women’s section is inspired by bohemian styles, with lots of tie-dye dresses and tunic tops made of natural fabrics that can be paired with playful accessories such as colorful scarves, suede belts and feather earrings.
Still, Next remains best known for its shoes. The store keeps its sneaker street-cred alive with exclusive shoe launches such as this month’s special edition Jordan 60+ hi-top ($115) decked out in white leather with piercing blue and yellow accents.
Rosenthal says he will keep working on the balance of carrying cutting-edge shoes with cutting-edge fashion. “Playing it safe is never gonna cut it.”