Streetwear and sneakers have been around for decades but in certain parts of the world, these things are only just starting to become recognised. Dubai is no exception. While the city is often known for its extravagance, including the fashion industry, home to pretty much every superbrand in existence, it’s streetwear scene is only just getting started. I have lived in Dubai for most of my life so I thought it would be appropriate to put something together regarding the improvements I’ve noticed over the past few years!
Dubai has no problem attracting big fashion houses such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton or Balenciaga to come and open up shop in the city, but for many people perhaps on a lower budget or more streetwear orientated, the options have been limited. Two years ago, however, we were blessed to have Boston based sneaker boutique, Concepts, open its second overseas branch in Dubai. This was HUGE for Dubai, as not only does the store stock a nicely curated selection of trainers, it also sells a lot of quality streetwear brands. Some of these include; Stussy, Patta, Stone Island and Yeezy. These types of brands were very hard to come by in Dubai until the opening of Concepts. Furthermore, the store provides us with a far better selection of footwear than what was previously available and gives residents of the United Arab Emirates a chance to get their hands on converted sneaker releases, previously only available in Europe or the United States. In December of 2018, Nike did a collaboration with Concepts on the Nike SB Dunk … not the first time the two have joined forces on the model. The Dubai branch of Concepts received and sold both the “Purple Lobster” and “Green Lobster” colourways of the shoe, which my brother and I camped out for. We were lucky enough to snag a pair in each colourway. Away from the Concepts collaborations, the boutique also carries numerous brands and limited releases which were impossible to get in the UAE prior to its opening.
Crep conventions and events are no new thing to sneaker culture and they take place in every major city around the world. Sole DXB is Dubai’s answer to Sneaker Con or London’s CrepeCity. It is essentially a sneaker and streetwear event which happens every year in Dubai’s Design District. In 2018, the 8th annual event took place and it was bigger than ever! The event attracted some of the biggest influencers, icons, brands and musicians to the melting pot of Dubai to celebrate the growing scene in the Middle East. Brand involvement included the likes of Adidas, Highsnobiety, Medicom, Dior, Reebok and Puma just to name a few. The venue for Sole DXB is all outdoors and features a range of pop-up shops and activities including an outdoor basketball court. Last year the team from Sole DXB managed to attract the likes of Giggs, Nas, Joey Basda$$ and many more to perform during the closing party on the newly assembled stage setup. A$AP Rocky even made an appearance at one point! The main attraction for me was the inclusion of some icons of sneaker culture from both past and present. DJ Clark Kent and Futura were both present and were greatly involved in the organisation and execution of the event itself. Furthermore, the ever popular YouTube show ‘Full-Size Run’ shot a live episode whilst they were attending Sole DXB. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the last event and in truth, I was gutted I missed out! This year I am determined to get back to Dubai in time to be there and hopefully get the chance to meet some people and take part in full!
The boom in popularity of the sneaker and streetwear scene in recent years has brought about an expansion in these outlets throughout Dubai, making it even more accessible to get hold of the latest trends. There are a number of new stores and boutiques which are certainly worth visiting if you find yourself in Dubai. The first which spring to mind would be; Amongst Few, WORTHY and the new Nike Store in Dubai Mall. The Nike Store opened in the summer of 2018 and covers a 3,290 square meter space, the largest in the Middle East. If you ask me, it is on the same level as Nike Town in London or the brand’s new Flagship store in New York. The Dubai branch of Nike has been branded as ‘Nike DXB’, giving an identity to the growing sportswear and sneaker movement in the city. Furthermore, they stock a range of limited edition clothing and footwear, exclusive to Dubai. Personally, I own a few different Nike DXB bits and pieces, the stand out being a pair of Air Force 1’s which you were able to customise in-store with Dubai inspired designs and graphics. The photograph below shows my pair. The Arabic on the heel of the shoe means ‘Dubai’ and the details on the toe box depict the city skyline, with various other Arabian illustrations. These are a pair I had to own, given I grew up over in Dubai!
To summarize, the growth in popularity of sneakers and streetwear has had a huge impact on what’s available in the Middle East. Air Jordan’s have always had a big following in Dubai, mainly due to the Americanisation of the city. Now, Dubai finds itself with its very own Jordan store located in the Dubai Mall. BAPE recently opened an ‘AAPE’ store and have plans for a new ‘Bathing Ape’ store. Even a few years ago, there was nothing in the way of streetwear in Dubai and meant that people had to outsource to the U.K or America to get hold of certain things. Just like the city itself, the sneaker and streetwear scene has expanded rapidly over the past two to three years, and I am excited to see how it will continue to do so.
Let me know what you have to say about Dubai’s up and coming streetwear scene or whether you plan on visiting any time soon! Follow @CrepCultureblog on Instagram for daily updates!