Sneakers have successfully made the move from sportswear essential to fashion statement, with shoe fanatics scouring stockists for both rare and classic designs. Some of the most desirable styles are found in London, which is home to a range of footwear stores.
Find rare collaborations at Stockholm’s Sneakersnstuff
Sneakersnstuff was born in Stockholm when founders Erik Fagerlind and Peter Jansson saw a gap in the market for sneaker shopping outside of a department store environment. It carries limited-edition designs as well as traditional styles such as Converse Chuck Taylors, Puma Suedes and Nike Air Force 1s. Ask about the Shoreditch store’s archive of collaborations – the business duo have designed styles for Basics, adidas and New Balance in recent years.
Local skate brand Palace is London’s streetwear king
Palace is one of the most authentic streetwear labels in London today. Initially designed for skateboarding enthusiasts, it has since garnered a wider following. Its flagship store on Brewer Street features sleek Italian marble floor tiles inset with oversized ‘P’ lettering, and displays are minimal with a few select clothing and footwear designs on show. Look out for the Palace x adidas collaboration, a series of limited-edition, premium tumbled leather sneakers that combine skater style with a luxe aesthetic and a globally recognised logo.
Footpatrol on Berwick Street in London’s Soho is a carefully considered concept store with an impressive sneaker collection. Interiors are appropriately urban and boast floor-to-ceiling recycled scaffold boarding, but it’s the limited-edition designs that keep sneaker fans coming back. Past collections include a unique collaboration with Converse inspired by the streets of Soho, but there are also classic options to be found – don’t dismiss this one-of-a-kind destination if you’re in the market for a fresh pair of Nike Air Max.
Oi Polloi stocks designs from the world’s best brands
The signage in Oi Polloi’s store window simply states “We sell good clothes”, and brands inside range from Nudie Jeans to Superga. Founders Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson describe the Carnaby Street store as an edited version of the Oi Polloi experience and it stocks some of the most desirable brands from their list. You can find sneakers by Superga, adidas and Reebok Classics.
Slam City was established in 1986 and is now one of London’s best-known skating labels. Stores are located in Covent Garden and Shoreditch with an outlet in North London’s Enfield. The biggest and most comprehensive sneaker collection can be found in Covent Garden. Stock spans household names like Vans and New Balance but also includes specialist labels such as Lakai and Huf.
Axel Arigato brings a slice of Swedish cool to Soho
Loved for its clean-cut leather and suede designs, Swedish streetwear brand Axel Arigato puts a smart spin on sneaker style. The Soho store, which opened in 2018, features exposed stone walls, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and few other interior touches, leaving the full focus on the product.
Newcastle-based luxury menswear retailer END. opened its first London store in Soho in 2018. The two-storey space feels bright, modern and well curated, and it features a full wall of sneakers as well as oversize digital screens so customers can experience the full range of brands and collections on offer. Expect contemporary labels with a slight streetwear influence. Acne Studios, Common Projects and Champion set the tone.
Offspring’s range will leave you spoilt for choice
Offspring originated in London and the first store opened in 1996 on Neal Street in Covent Garden. It has since opened multiple stores across the UK and has established itself as a credible sneaker destination. The shopping experience is personal and the brand maintains its boutique sensibility, despite the expansion. Offspring celebrated its 20th anniversary with the launch of a permanent residency in Selfridges on Oxford Street.
Vans launched in 1966 and has maintained its skater-inspired aesthetic to this day, making it one of the most wearable streetwear labels in the world. The events that it hosts in the Carnaby Street flagship store are what make this space special, and over the past couple of years the likes of Funeral for a Friend and Millencolin have performed for its loyal customers.
The Other Side of the Pillow is the go-to for exclusive footwear
The Other Side of the Pillow is a unique footwear destination based in London Fields. It stocks rare and classic designs sourced by Vans enthusiast and shoe collector Henry Davies. Prices range from £25 to £150 depending on how exclusive an item is.
Supreme is a New York brand, but its first European store sits well in London’s Soho. It stocks original and current designs, and celebrates ongoing collaborations, including the much-coveted collection with luxury fashion label Louis Vuitton. Interiors include a photocollage by Ari Marcopoulos and a sculptural installation by skateboarder and artist Mark Gonzales.
For fashion-focussed variations from mainstream brands, head to Sefton
Men’s clothing and footwear store Sefton opened on Upper Street, Islington, in 1999 and has stocked a considered curation of premium, contemporary labels ever since. The sneaker brands on offer are well known, but the store steers clear of mainstream styles, so expect to find fashion-focussed variations from Nike and adidas to complement Sefton’s own minimal clothing label.