“What you stand on is what you stand for.” Sole DXB
Second son is a sneakerhead. The definition of a Sneakerhead is a collector of rare and precious sneakers, more like a crazy obsession which controls his existence if you ask me! His room has a wall of sneaker art, rows of brightly coloured sneaker boxes lined up, each one filled with a particular shoe in various colourways. To give him his due, each pair are well taken care of, carefully placed back in their box after each wear, he can name them all and give you a brief history should you so desire. He wears them with pride but woe betide anyone who dares look in those boxes without permission, touch the shoes or the worst crime of all, tread on them when he’s wearing them!
The fifth Sole DXB event, the annual two-day sneaker and streetwear festival held at Dubai Design District (d3) was like a magnet to him. He was an official Sole trader for the weekend, setting up shop among other like-minded sneakerheads to buy, sell and trade in the sneaker swap section of the event. Unlike the US, UK and other countries the UAE rarely has the ‘drops’ (except the highly sought after Kanye West x Adidas ‘Yeezy’ releases), that require camping out to nab a coveted pair but instead rare shoes are sourced by trailing the internet, via global contacts with copious international purchases shipped here at additional expense.
We visited as a supportive family unit on the final day (even wore my Nike’s) and I have to say it was a really good event combining not only streetwear and sneaker brands but also live music, basketball on a central court, retailers, entertainment, bars and great street food, all of which which attracted the UAE’s ‘cool’ set in their droves ….and us old folk too!
Sole DXB collaborated with Puma to release an exclusive edition and colourway of their Puma Disc shoe entitled Asphalt Blk, its design inspired by the growth of Dubai itself as well as its urban culture. Of course second son bagged himself a pair of this limited edition textured black felt shoe with black leather detailing that features an embossed ‘Sole DXB’ logo, a souvenir I’m told along with his Sole basketball kit.
Retailers included the UAE’s answer to ASOS, Namshi and clothing brand Diesel who were generously giving out free Sole t-shirts. Abu Dhabi was well represented by Lina Mustafa and her Luxury Arcade brand, Dubai based Amongst Few had also set up shop as had trendy Dubai barbers Akin. International footwear and clothing brands Adidas Originals, Puma Select, Reebok Classics, New Balance, Lacoste, Le Coq Sportif, k-Swiss, Toms and Supra rubbed shoulders with sunglass giant Ray Ban, New Era, Carhartt WIP, DC, G-Shock, Herschel Supply Co and retail concept space, Early Retirement. See full list of participating brands here
The Adidas stand certainly attracted some traffic over the two days with tennis and shoe legend Stan Smith making a guest appearance on Friday along with Darryl McDaniels from legendary hip-hop duo RUN DMC on both days. Meet and greets/signing sessions took place in the pop-up concession store. British illustrator and Adidas artist Josh Parkin was on hand throughout the event to draw his own unique style of portraits including one of me which was quite uncanny, not!
Let’s be honest here I had not heard of any of the musical artists playing over the weekend. I’m reliably informed that hard-core East Coast hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, who closed out the event on the Saturday evening are pretty well-known. Also performing over the weekend were Alo Wala, The Recipe, Nile, Majeed, Moh Flow, Malikah as well as numerous DJ’s. Alongside the music there were book signings, movies and two-days of talks presented by various companies.
The centralised BasketBall court was home to the ‘The Sole Above All Classic Tournament’ that featured eleven selected adults teams competing over the two days. The matches I saw were fast paced and entertaining, the winners even scooped up a hefty AED 10,000 in prize money.
I have to say the food options were on point. New brand Pinza Pizza were serving the most delicious pizzas and Seven Fortunes coffee was fantastic, both outlets were attracting lots of customers. NYC’s Miss Lily’s, Clinton Street Baking Co, Shake Shack, Taqado Mexican Kitchen and Onion Caramel were busy too as was the fresh coconut stand.
Sole DXB was launched back in September 2010 as a platform for all things streetwear and creative in the Middle East combining the latest in footwear, fashion, design and culture. Since its initial outset, Sole has gone from strength to strength building on its modest beginning to become an extremely popular, highly respected and well attended event, this year alone attracting over 11,000 visitors through its turnstiles. Did I enjoy the event, Yes! Would I go again next year, Most Definitely! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your Yeezy’s from your Stan Smith’s, you can just enjoy the vibe, feast on some delicious street food and chill for a few hours socialising in the sun.
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Three photos of us used courtesy of Time Out Dubai.
Read my Time Out Abu Dhabi article about Jack and the local sneaker scene published on 8th December 2015 here.
He also featured in a UAE’s biggest sneakerhead’s article Gulf News on 18th November 2015 (as pictured below) ahead of Sole DXB, read that here.