IN THE KNOW with Asif Moola of Momentum
Established in 2000 as a brick and mortar location in Saskatoon, Canada, Momentum has become a Canadian staple for new and emerging brands. Originally focused on those brands coming out of the fashion, surf, skate and hip-hop culture, the emergence of “Streetwear” and popularization of sneakers saw Momentum pivot into rare sneakers from Nike, Jordan, Adidas and more in the early 2000’s which was a key moment in helping the store differentiate and continue to level up. Key partnerships have been built over the last 20+ years, both in Canada and abroad, to keep Momentum in the conversation at a national and international level. The expansion and remodeling of their store was a pivotal time for growth and presence in the market. Being from a less populated area and having to contend with severe climate shifts from summer to winter, Momentum have had to broaden their range and categories to account for the fact it can swing from -40 degrees in the winter to +40 in the summer.
Momentum continues to push the shop-local movement while curating globally. With in-store activations, they have a strong focus on their neighborhood while constantly trying to enhance both their in-store and online shopping experience.
We caught up with Momentum’s owner Asif Moola to talk business, review the last couple of years and get an idea of what the future holds.
Instagram @momentumclothing @momentumgirls
Hey Asif, it’s been way too long my friend! How are you doing?
I’m keeping well. My family is healthy, and our staff are healthy and keeping positive through the last few years of Covid. With precautions and restrictions, I haven’t done much travel in the past few years. It’s been heavy on the work side, but a blessing to spend so much time with family while my daughter is still young.
Quality family time is definitely one positive to come out of this pandemic! What’s going on over at Momentum these days?
Covid is top of mind, but we are staying customer focused. Trying to curate the right products for our customer, and drill down on what exactly we need in our presentation. We have been refining our brand list on an ongoing basis and are excited about it.
We recently put out a Subway Series collection with New Era. It’s been great to be able to go through the design process. We also just launched the Momentum Artist Series for 2022. This collab was with Dreyfus Art.
Sports, Music and Art have been a huge influence on our brand identity and culture, and we want to ensure we keep evolving as a brand while staying true to our roots.
Congratulations on 21+ plus years of business! What’s the secret sauce to keeping things going during tough times?
Putting your head down and doing the work. If it’s 8 hours or 18 hours in a workday there’s always something to be done, planned, or fine-tuned. Building the right team and ensuring our consumer experience is the priority. Growing our digital footprint is a key focus for us for 2022.
You have sponsored a lot of DJ’s and events over the years really supporting the local scene, what are some of the moments or memories that stand out.
I promoted key shows in Saskatoon for years as well as sponsoring others. For a few years, a friend had a venue here called Scratch Club. We used to fly in DJ’s regularly who played at Fortune in Vancouver and Hi-Fi in Calgary. It was a great time for music in Saskatoon, as our local DJ’s would play in the mix.It was a great vibe.
It looks like you have been involved in some really interesting collaborations recently, can you tell me a bit more about these and if you have anything else coming down the pipe?
In 2021 we worked with Obey on a shop tee and hoodie. We have bought Obey since it was only a few items in around 2001. Seeing Shepard Fairey grow to an internationally acclaimed street artist, fine artist, activist and DJ has been impressive. We took our design inspiration back to the days of Andre has a Posse and the original OBEY box logo. I wanted to throw in a vintage racing green vibe and the project came together very well. We didn’t get to throw a release party as planned – but our campaign for Momentum has a Posse included highly respected friends from Toronto, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver. It was a strong Canadian push with a great crew.
We have a few other projects in talks at the moment. Most of them are artist based, but so far sound exciting. We just need a little time to have things come together authentically and with the right voice.
How has it been navigating the new digital world of video calls and presentations for your buying calendar? What are positives and negatives?
It’s been a very interesting few years. So many logins to ever-changing platforms. Luckily, if you are experienced with a brand, it’s easier than if you are onboarding a new line. Fit, finish, weight of the fabric, how outerwear may sound in the cold are all considerations we would normally consider in person. Plus, in person meetings and seeing friends is really fun and why we got into this business...
It’s tough to catch a vibe digitally, but it’s right to rely on your friends and relationships to navigate your buy. Hopefully you trust who you’re working with.
What are you most looking forward to about a return to in-person buying and tradeshow season?
Catching up with friends. Heading out for meals and drinks together. Seeing what’s happening in the streets in other cities. Stepping away from the online world and getting back to in person experiences.
Do you have any KNOWSHOW stories or things that really stand out over the last 15 years?
There’s lots of good memories throughout the years at KNOWSHOW, but the best ones were all in person! Tons of bookings. Finding strong lines for our businesses and of course seeing friends. The highlight reel includes RHEK’s art installation. Seeing Flipout, Hedspin or The Freshest playing at the Red Bull DJ booth. Catching up with our peers from different parts of the country. Heading out for King Crab at Sun Sui Wah or the amazing food at Calabash. Late night Izakaya and tea pots full of Heineken. Dozens of GMAN and Rizk shows from Richards on Richards to Fortune Sound Club. And learning not to go too hard on the first night.
Great chatting Asif!
We’re looking forward to seeing you again and having you back at KNOWSHOW this Summer!