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CrepCulture – A Year in Sneakers

2019 has had a lot to offer in terms of the sneaker releases, retros and collaborations which we have been treated to by many of the big brands. In this article, I will be sharing my year in regard to which creps I copped to rock, sold and restored, including a few stories along the way. This article is not to be confused with the ‘Best Sneakers of 2019’, which is currently in the works!

I began the year with a bit of a heater, a shoe which actually released towards the end of 2018 but I didn’t get my hands on until February. Originally deemed a Shanghai exclusive the Concepts x Nike ‘Green Lobster’ Dunk SB thew SB fans into a frenzy trying to get secure a pair. The collaboration first released in Shanghai as a surprise drop on the morning of the 22nd of December and then received a slightly wider, but very limited, release on the 28th. I managed to get a pair of the converted Lobsters through an early morning campout and a bit of good fortune! I was actually camping out for a pair of the Concepts ‘Purple Lobster’ Dunk SBs with my brother, Max, at Concept’s Dubai location. We arrived just before 4am with the aim of bringing home two pairs of the Purple Lobsters! After about six hours in line, we were informed that there were hardly any big sizes available, much to the despair of sneakerheads towards the back of the line. Luckily for Max, he got his hands on a pair in his size but took the only UK10. Due to the uproar in the line, the management agreed to give those who missed out on their size first dibs on the stash of ‘Green Lobsters’ which were set to be released. So I put my name down and left empty-handed. About a month later the release date for the green pair was announced but unfortunately, I was back in the U.K. getting on with my studies. Knowing I should have a pair on hold, I sent my dad who was more than willing to wait a little while and bring home the Lobos. He found it hilarious that people in line were photographing each other’s sneakers – a very normal thing in today’s culture. After a bit of negotiation, he got my pair! Unfortunately, the only pair left was half a size big so I actually ended up selling them after failing to swap them for my true size. Out of the rainbow of Concepts Lobster SBs, I have to say the greens are certainly my favourite. Followed closely by the blue and purple colourways.

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The next sneaker I picked up this year was a low key model which also released in 2018. If you read my ‘Best Sneakers of 2018’ article I wrote last year, you will know how much I love the Nike Skylon II. Last year I rocked the purple/pink/white Skylon II’s to death and was keen to get another pair. Coming in at the retail price of £84.95, the model is a no brainer if you want a casual run-around shoe or something to wear for the summer months. In March I bought my second pair in the orange/yellow/white colourway, one which I had had my eye on for some time. I managed to scoop them up off eBay for about £30, an absolute steal for a shoe which received a lot of wear in the following months.

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In May, we witnessed one of the most hyped sneaker releases of the decade. Especially amongst the modern sneaker enthusiast, and in the current climate, people would put this shoe in their top ten list in recent years. We all know about Travis Scott’s relationship with Nike/Jordan Brand by now and his second Air Jordan instalment had people going nuts! The shoe responsible was Travis’ Jordan 1 which featured a colour palette never before seen on the model as well as an outlandish reserved swoosh. At first, sneakerheads were divided but those not in favour must have been swayed by the hype, as you hear nothing but praise for the collaboration today. This was one of those releases that was always going to be near impossible to cop, but somehow I managed it. This will probably irritate some of you reading but I didn’t really try! Dover Street Market came through with the W, and was the only raffle I entered just on that off chance. It’s funny because I never get wins when it comes to modern-day releases but the only two I have both came from DSM. The other pair was the original Off-White Nike Air Max 90’s from ‘The Ten’. Whilst those stayed in the collection, the Travis Air Jordan 1’s did not. The asking price at the time was pretty high so I sold them for cash plus one of the commemorative T-shirts from the drop. Looking back I wish I had held onto them for longer, as they currently go for double what I sold them for! But I was not in the financial condition to do so… student life and all of that.

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Later that month, I picked up probably my most worn pair this year. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I have rocked these non-stop since I grabbed a pair in the Footlocker sales. The pair is the Nike Air Max Plus ‘Grid Yellow’ a re-retro which first released alongside other Grid patterned TN’s in 1999. The pattern on the mesh upper alongside the clear cage make this shoe a showstopper in my opinion. I have also been tempted by the grey/red pair but am yet to pull the trigger. I recently travelled to Australia and my Yellow Grid TN’s were my crep of choice for the trip! The photo below was taken by Max whilst we were in Melbourne.

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2019 has given birth to a revival of many models which had been long forgotten. Nike finally retroed the Tailwind IV and the Air Max Plus III. One model which is not in the same category but has seen a resurgence in popularity is the Air Max 90. Now despite all of this I actually didn’t buy any of the new 2019 Air Max 90’s despite trying to cop a few. Instead, I managed to get a pair of Dave White x Nike Air Max 90’s which were part of the ‘Wet Paint’ Pack in 2005. This is a big grail to many 90 collectors, myself included, and I copped this pair for a major steal of £50 back in June! As is usually the case with any Air Max over the age of ten years, the pair is no longer wearable, due to midsole crumbling but fear not, a restoration is currently ongoing. I had an old pair of Air Max 90’s with a very similar coloured air unit which I have used as a donor. The midsoles have been repainted and the OG outsoles have been attached. The only step outstanding is the reglue of the Dave White upper onto the doner soles, which in truth I am petrified of doing! I will get there eventually. A comprehensive tutorial article will be posted towards the beginning of next year outlining each step of the process, as well as the equipment needed and the overall costs. I have never done a sole-swap before so the article will be aimed more towards beginners, like me, who want to give it a go!

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In August, I picked up my only non-Nike sneaker of the year, the Hypebeast (HBX) x Asics Gel Kayano 5’s. Honestly, Asics have killed it this year with collaborations from Ronnie Fieg, SneakerFreaker, Awake and numerous other high profile brands. Not to mention a variety of incredible GR colourways on some of their more desirable models. The Hypebeast Gel Kayano 5’s were certainly the standout pair for me and after eyeing them up for a while I finally got my hands on them during summer. The bulky 1990’s aesthetic of the model is perfect for today’s streetwear and high fashion inclination, and the materials used on this particular pair are second to none.

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Nike’s Air Max line is my personal favourite thing in creps and over the years I have been collecting each OG colourway of each given model. One of these which I had not yet added to the collection was the OG Air (Max) 180’s in the Ultramarine colourway which originally released in 1991. The Air 180 was the first Air Max to advance past the standard air unit with its air bubble being visible at 180 degrees around the shoe. In October I was blessed by my boy Omar (shoutout to Omarni) with the 2011 retros of the 180’s for my birthday. What a hero! They have got plenty of wear since then, despite the wet conditions at the moment and could certainly do with a cleanup. A few OG colourways still elude me, in particular, the Air Max 360’s… but hey we’ll probably get a retro shortly!

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One month later I copped my next pair and it was a bit of an impromptu one. This was the Gortex x Nike Air Force 1’s in the black colourway. I acquired these on a day out in London with my girlfriend where we spent far too much money and each returned home with a new pair of creps. While I copped the Gortex AF1’s, Lydia got a pair of the Nike Air Max 95 SP ‘Multicolours’ (rainbow slices) which released earlier in the year. I have hardly taken off the Air Forces since I got them! The Gortex and rugged leather upper make this shoe a very durable option for the weather to come in the next few months. I was drawn to this shoe mainly by the orange detailing which is present on the tongue and the heel, and the benefit of using them as a Timberland alternative!

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My final sneaker pick up of the year was probably my favourite of the year. I secured a pair of the new re-crafted Nike Air Max 90’s in the ‘Hyper Purple’ colourway whilst in Dubai for Christmas. When I wandered into Nike DXB I was shocked to see both the purple and the volt colourways of the new Air Max 90’s sitting on the shelves. The purple pair, in particular, has been on my radar since we saw the first images online a few months back so these were a must cop! Whilst I was also tempted by the Volts in the OG colour blocking I am planning on waiting it out for the green pair dubbed the ‘Chlorophylls’. It’s fair to say I left the best till last. The new recrafted 90’s are honestly so much better in hand than they look in photos. The updated shape is beautifully done and makes the shoe feel much sleeker compared to the bulkier 90’s we’re all used to. The box size has been narrowed to match its original 1990 size and the pair comes complete with a Nike hangtag and arch supports. The box, hangtag and arch supports are all purple to match the theme of the sneaker which I think is a great touch from Nike. I can only imagine that the Volt, Blue and Green pairs, as well as the OG Infrared, will all release with similar packaging in their designated colours. This is such a good release, and the fact I was able to secure a pair two weeks before they drop in the U.K was pretty cool!

So that is my year in sneakers!

What did you pick up this year? Let me know what your personal favourite pickups were of the year by commenting below, or through Instagram @crepcultureblog

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Dubai’s Up and Coming Streetwear Scene

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!

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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!