New York City is without a doubt the sneakerhead capital of the world.
Between industry stalwarts like Nike and adidas with its colossal flagship footprints to consignment shops like Flight Club and Stadium Goods that pioneered the billion dollar secondary sneaker market, the Big Apple is a footwear mecca where you’re guaranteed to find exactly the pair you’re looking for, if you know where to look.
For discerning shoppers whose style inclinations simply aren’t sated by traditional mall retailers, the city’s unique crop of footwear destinations will have just about any sneaker you could dream of, and our no frills guide will show you exactly where to find them.
With contributing words from Pete Forester.
The story of Kith is a tale of the classic New York hustle that, by now, most sneakerheads are aware of: proprietor Ronnie Fieg works his way up from stock boy to buyer at his uncle’s sneaker chain and eventually sets up his own shop, Kith. Fieg’s first foray into retail began in 2011 with the opening of his first SoHo store, blurring the lines between sneaker shop and streetwear boutique. With premium accounts from all the major brands like Nike, adidas, Jordan, and more, the Opened less than a year ago, Kith’s new 10,000-square-foot three-story SoHo flagship is just blocks away from its original location that started it all, along with outposts in Brooklyn, Miami, and L.A, and is a testament to the brand’s reach and influence in the sneaker world.
Extra Butter stays true to the store’s heritage with a recent renovation that leans into movie theater inspiration. The exterior features a classic theater letterboard, while the store’s window displays are a rotation of bespoke themed installations for all the biggest releases. The interior is buffeted by velvet curtains, filled with vintage movie theater seats, and features a drop-down projector screen. With retail selections from Nike, adidas, New Balance and more, plus in house branded apparel, don’t forget to grab a box of candy or a cult classic soda from the counter before one of the famous after-hours movie screenings. —Pete Forester
If you’ve never been, Dover Street Market is worth going to just for the experience – even if you’re not looking to buy anything. Something of a hyper-curated mini mall, DSM is the landing zone for some of the most progressive brands in the industry. For shoes there’s a NikeLab on the second floor, but if you want Gucci sneakers go up to seven (next to their micro Supreme store), while the famous CDG x Converse Chucks will be on three, and budget friendly skate options are usually on the mezzanine. It can be a little complicated, but only if you’re a headstrong New Yorker on a mission for one item. Instead, take a different tactic: go in with a couple hours to kill, grab a snack at the Rose Bakery, and take your time shopping around and enjoying the multitude of installations for the artistry of it all.
Flight Club virtually needs no introduction. For anyone acutely attuned to the sneaker world, they‘d know that Flight Club essentially kickstarted the resell market’s billion dollar industry, having set up shop in 2005 long before any major consignment store was around. Flight Club’s claim to fame is well warranted—its endless walls of sneakers are filled with styles old and new with classics you’ll probably remember from childhood. If you’re looking for rare and obscure gems that are likely only found on eBay, chances are you’ll be able to find it here.
With an expansive floor of their most famous store dedicated to footwear, the selection at Barneys New York is about as high end as you can get. You will find affordable options from adidas and Puma, but the draw to Barneys New York is all the fashion brands that you don’t normally have access too at the boutique sneaker shops. Entire shelves are dedicated to Gucci and Balenciaga, with Rick Owens, Amiri, and Saint Laurent mixed in. There’s a whole world of high end footwear that most sneakerhead friendly stores never carry, so even if you are familiar with Barneys, there’s a lot in their selection that will be totally new, all coming from the brands you know from Fashion Week. —Pete Forester
Originally hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Concepts has come a long way since its establishment over two decades ago. Considered one of the founding fathers of premium retail, Concepts’ NYC outpost has only been around for about three years, but its footprint in lower Manhattan is ever-changing. The store was created as somewhat of an extension of Concepts’ storytelling capabilities with the space constantly shifting and evolving to correlate with the brand’s high-profile sneaker collaborations.
Despite being open for only a year and a half, Nike’s Soho store is now a shopping staple. The store is massive: five stories of retail experience are filled with constantly changing product guaranteeing that every time you go in there’s something new to see. But it’s not only the product. Replacing the famed NikeTown, Nike Soho has become the destination for Nike’s consumer outreach in New York City thanks to customization stations, educational and historical displays, and even treadmills and a basketball court to break in your new purchases. It’s an immersive brand experience celebrating the brand, history, and sport. —Pete Forester
It’s only right that the only internationally-based shop on this list hails from Japan. First established in Tokyo in 2000, Atmos’ NYC outpost is a prominent fixture in the sneaker and streetwear community and quickly became known for its highly sought after collabs with frequent collaborator Nike, as well as brands like adidas, New Balance, and Brooks. Located in Harlem, Atmos NYC stocks all the major footwear brands along with its own in-house apparel label and is still one of the most exclusive yet accessible sneakerhead destinations in the city. The staff is professional, laid-back, and knowledgeable about releases, proving that the old school sneaker experience can still be found in a sea of big box retailers.
A secondary seller in SoHo, Stadium Goods may prove to be overwhelming for first time shoppers. The walls are densely packed with everything from impossibly limited 10-year-old Nike collaborations to adidas knits sold under retail. If the shoes are available anywhere, they’re probably at Stadium Goods. What sets Stadium Goods apart is the shop’s ability to cater to trends, and that goes far beyond footwear. Whatever the hottest release of the month is, whether it’s the Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration or Off-White Nikes, Stadium Goods will put it front and center in their displays, so you don’t miss out, and with a collection that includes Supreme apparel and accessories you’ll be able to outfit your crib as well as your feet. —Pete Forester
Next up; the best sneaker stores around the world.