Sole DXB 2016

A few years back, there was no platform connecting like-minded creatives who shared the same interests – so we started Sole DXB.” Hussain Moloobhoy

The UAE’s cool set were out in force decked out in their best streetwear and sneakers for last weekend’s Sole DXB event at D3 aka the Dubai Design District. This annual footwear, fashion and lifestyle festival has grown in popularity year on year since its conception back in 2010, offering visitors not just streetwear and sneaker brands but also live music and entertainment. A weekend long ‘Sole Ball Above All Classic’ basketball tournament took place on the centralised custom made court, there was ten-pin bowling courtesy of Pepsi and on-site gents barbers Akin was available for all the gents grooming needs, as well as live entertainment, bars and delicious street food.

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The main event is obviously the sneakers, global brands like Nike (who were situated in a huge show box and created a unique shoe for the event), Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Diadora, New Balance, Vans were showcased along with local retailers Level Shoe District. Homegrown brand Amongst Few teamed up with streetwear favourite The Hundreds to produce limited edition items that literally flew off the stand, with everything sold out on day one! Premium sneaker boutique Concepts, which recently opened its third global flagship store (the other two being in the US) at City Walk, Dubai were debuting their brand at this year’s Sole event. Namshi, the Dubai-based online fashion retail company were displaying their wares in a pop-up shop along with Abu Dhabi brand The Luxury Arcade and other well-known brands.

Back in the early 80’s Moroccan-born artist Hassan Hajjaj created his London based fashion label R.A.P (Real Artistic People) but closed the brand in the mid-90’s, twenty years later he re-activated it at this years Sole, showcasing his retro designs in the Early Retirement concept store. Sneakerhead son was in situ along with like minded individuals displaying and selling their prized collections in the Sole Collectors swap and sell area. A weekend long programme of talks from the best in the business included London’s Crepe City founders Morgan Weekes and Ron Raichura and sneaker magazine Highsnobiety founder David Fischer.

Food is very important at this self-contained festival and this year two of the UAE’s most popular restaurant brands debuted new concepts. Bull & Roo, who are the company behind Tom & Serg (also The Sum of Us, Common Grounds, Brunswick Sports Club and Muchachas) launched their Asian inspired pop-up, Uncle Jheff ahead of its official opening next year. The Thai street food and South Asian inspired cocktails were certainly pulling in the crowds, helped by the two bars, DJ’s and the huge hype that Bull & Roo duo Tom Arnell and Sergi Lopez command whenever they turn their hand to something new.

The two talented ladies behind Abu Dhabi’s No.57 Cafe also showcased their new concept in the pink ice-cream parlour located in Early Retirement. Scoop by No.57 was cooling everyone down with their delicious frozen sweet treats, bespoke flavours such as cake batter, activated charcoal lemonade, peanut pretzel and cereal milk were served in either black cones, macarons or waffles with a choice of toppings including frosted corn flakes, s’mores and honeycomb.

I couldn’t resist the best pizza again this year from Pinza (a branch has just opened in Abu Dhabi’s Umm Al Emarat Park for capital dwellers) and other options included Taqado Mexican Kitchen, Shake Shack, VIDA Food Truck, 1Life, Kold Press Juice Ko and great coffee from Seven Fortunes Coffee. Whilst I cannot claim to be familiar with the acts who performed my sons were pretty excited, live music came in the form of Stormzy and Mercury Music Prize-winning Skepta who attracted a huge crowd as he closed out proceedings for another year.

Sole DXB is an extremely popular and well respected lifestyle event in the region bringing a touch of the Shoreditch vibe to the desert. Thousands of visitors made their way to D3 for the two day event, it didn’t matter if you were a sneaker head or not, whether you had a hipster beard or whether you had Yeezy’s on your feet. It was great to enjoy the vibe, stuff our faces with delicious street food and chill out watching the basketball for a few hours. The people watching was also top notch too, make sure you check it out next year.

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Read more about Sole DXB and the UAE sneaker scene in previous posts/articles Sole DXB 2015 and www.timeoutabudhabi.com/community/features/68231-sneaker-culture-in-abu-dhabi

All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.