Sneakers
From the ground up
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

The internet revolutionized and forever changed consumer behavior by giving customers an easy, stress-free way to browse and buy products from the comfort of their own home. The same goes for buying sneakers. While there are certainly still those old-school OGs that prefer going into physical stores to buy kicks, the majority of people prefer to shop online.

With the retail world at your fingertips, it can be hard to decide exactly where to go. Whereas previously shoppers were limited by geography, these days jumping from stores such as Overkill in Berlin to KM20 in Moscow can be done in a matter of seconds.

To help you wade through the long list of sneaker websites out there, we’ve highlighted some of the best below, and what exactly each store offers.

Sneakersnstuff

Site: Sneakersnstuff

Physical Locations: Stockholm, Paris, London, Berlin, and New York (Los Angeles coming late 2018)

Instagram: @sneakersnstuff

Editor’s Notes: The first Sneakersnstuff opened in March 1999, selling exactly what the name suggests: sneakers and stuff.  Originally SNS was a sporting goods store before, in true ’90s style, they began ordering kicks from a sports catalog. Founded by Erik Fagerlind and Peter Jansson, Sneakersnstuff was born of frustration at Stockholm’s lack of alternatives to big retail chains. It has now expanded to five (soon to be six) brick-and-mortar stores in major cities in Europe and the US and has become one of the best places to find sneakers online.

You can head to Sneakersnstuff’s website to sign up for raffles of limited releases or just browse its wide selection of footwear. While it’s known for stocking almost every exclusive release, Sneakersnstuff also stocks general release sneakers by every major brand. Complementing that selection — and living up to the “stuff” part of the store’s name — you’ll also find a carefully curated range of apparel and accessories from brands such as Champion, Carhartt WIP, and Nike ACG, to name a few.

Solebox

Site: Solebox

Physical Locations: Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Brussels

Instagram: @solebox

Editor’s Notes: Solebox was founded in 2002 by the Sugoer brothers to bring hyped and limited sneaker releases to Europe. With ample backing, Solebox has extended its reach, both in terms of new physical locations and a more extensive online catalogue.

Solebox has a long history of collaborations with leading brands. Those projects, paired with the sale of limited releases and a great selection of general release sneakers, makes Solebox a world-renowned retailer.

Apparel from the likes of Helly Hansen, Opening Ceremony, YEEZY, COMME des GARÇONS, BAPE, Helmut Lang, and others can also be purchased online and in-store, giving customers a chance to cop dope threads while picking up a fresh pair of kicks.

Footpatrol

Site: Footpatrol

Physical Locations: London and Paris

Instagram: @footpatrol_ldn, @footpatrol_paris

Editor’s Notes: Footpatrol opened in London in 2002 before moving to its current location in Soho in 2010 and opening a Paris location in 2018. The London location recently received a facelift, giving the space a similar layout and look to the Paris location. Like most of the retailers on this list, Footpatrol has a history of collaborating with brands on various special projects.

The original layout and design of Footpatrol’s London store was inspired by the hidden boutiques of Japan and put together by design duo the Wilson Brothers. Inside, you’ll find Japanese exclusives and other sneakers that are hard to come by in Europe. In addition to big brands such as ASICS, Mizuno, Nike, and adidas, you’ll find a number of niche labels that provide a nice break from the norm.

END.

END.

Site: END. Clothing

Physical Locations: Newcastle and Glasgow

Instagram: @end_clothing

Editor’s Notes: END. is one of the most popular online sneaker retailers, thanks in large part to its raffle system, END. Launches. The retailer launched (pun intended) its ancillary site to combat bots and prevent its site from crashing at the time of popular releases — a big problem before retailers adopted the raffle system.

Since then, most sneakers (and sometimes even apparel collections) pass through END. Launches. The system is fully automatic: users log in to their END. account, sign up to a sneaker’s launch, and if their name is drawn, money is automatically charged to their account and the shoes are dispatched to the address on file.

In addition to hyped releases, END. offers a great selection of staples and footwear classics. A quick browse of the retailer’s footwear selection shows everything from the Balenciaga Triple S to the Common Projects Chelsea boot, with brands from adidas and Nike to Jimmy Choo and Palm Angels to be found on the retailer’s digital shelves.

KITH

Site: KITH

Physical Locations: New York (x5), Los Angeles, and Miami

Instagram: @kithfootwear

Editor’s Notes: KITH was founded in 2011 by Ronnie Fieg, one of the most popular sneaker collaborators of recent years. Perhaps best known for his work on ASICS GEL-Lyte models, Fieg has developed a penchant for reviving archive models and has since expanded both his business and the number of brands he works with. These range from Nike and adidas to Cap’n Crunch cereal and Versace. The collaboration with Cap’n Crunch cereal saw KITH launch KITH TREATS, an in-house cereal bar that was born out of Fieg’s love for the breakfast food. In addition to a number of cereal options — all named after Fieg’s closest friends, family, and influential people in the music, style, and sneaker sphere — customers can refresh themselves with a milkshake or some soft-serve ice cream.

As well as a growing number of physical locations, KITH has a large online presence. Sneakerheads can buy limited drops on a weekly basis through KITH’s online raffle system. A quick browse of the footwear category online shows sneakers from Veja, ALYX, Eytys, and Filling Pieces, to name a few. Fieg is a stickler for authenticity, so you can be sure that anything stocked at KITH was selected with care. Alongside its curated product portfolio, KITH also has an in-house line that has gone from strength to strength since its debut. The collections comprise of complementary capsules that release alongside some of the limited collaborations mentioned above, as well as seasonal drops of everything from basics and layering options to high-quality product fit for any type of wardrobe.

RSVP Gallery

RSVP Gallery

Site: RSVP Gallery

Physical Locations: Chicago

Instagram: @rsvpgallery

Editor’s Notes: RSVP Gallery is one of Chicago’s finest sneaker retailers, and not just because it was started by Don C, Virgil Abloh, and Marc Moran. As the name suggests, it sees itself as an elevated shopping experience, which certainly rings true at its physical location in the Windy City. And the retailer has managed to translate that high-end gallery/boutique feel to its online store.

Although the selection isn’t as vast as ones you’ll find in other stores, the sneakers on offer have a curated feel to them. Brands range from Fear of God and Raf Simons x adidas to mainline Nike and Converse. In addition, RSVP Gallery stocks some of the most limited releases, such as the recent YEEZY Boost 700 Wave Runner and ACRONYM x Nike Air Presto Mid.

As with other stores on this list, RSVP hosts certain “extra-curricular” events that help elevate it to the status of a top retail destination online and in Chicago. In 2015 the store payed host to Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God “Resurrected” T-Shirt pop-up shop. Stemming from Lorenzo’s substantial collection of vintage rock T-shirts, the FoG founder sourced and repurposed fifty shirts for an exclusive collaboration with the shop. More recently, Migos released exclusive Culture II merch at RSVP Gallery.

Sneaker Politics

Site: Sneaker Politics

Physical Locations: Lafayette, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Austin

Instagram: @sneakerpolitics

Editor’s Notes: Sneaker Politics has been around since 2006 and has a large physical presence in its home state of Louisiana, as well as a location in Austin, Texas. The retailer has also carved out a reputation as a premier source for online sneaker shopping. Alongside limited sneaker collaborations — which Sneaker Politics often releases via in-store or Instagram raffles — you can pick up on-trend footwear by the likes of Casbia, Nike, adidas, and New Balance.

The retailer’s connection to Louisiana was felt during the recent re-release of the Nike Air Jordan 3 “Katrina.” Sneaker Politics hosted a block party, which was attended by the likes of Juvenile, Bun B, Pell, and Neno Calvin, all of whom performed live. In addition, the first 100 customers to arrive received a free basketball, as well as the chance to win the highly-limited Jordans.

Even more recently, Sneaker Politics hosted a back to school edition of its popular “Shake Back Sunday” event. Shake Back Sunday is a in-store event that happens on the first Sunday of every month at each of the retailer’s locations. The point of these events is for the community to come together and play games, win prizes, talk sneakers, and have a good time hanging with like minded people. Because of this, and many other special releases and events, Snekaer Politics is one of the most community-minded stores out there.

Bodega

Site: Bodega

Physical Locations: Boston and Los Angeles

Instagram: @bodega

Editor’s Notes: Bodega opened its doors in Boston in 2006. The first store was hidden behind a semi-functional bodega, with a secret entrance that led to the actual streetwear and sneaker store. Now, with another semi-hidden location in Los Angeles, Bodega is known as one of the finest sneaker retailers in the world.

Its online presence is formidable, with the list of brands Bodega stocks ranging from adidas and Nike to UNDERCOVER and Hender Scheme. The idea of modeling the stores after their grocery-laden namesakes was to have just as many “hidden treasures” as a real bodega. Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, you’re bound to find something you like.

Concepts

Site: Concepts

Physical Locations: Boston, New York, and Dubai

Instagram: @cncpts

Editor’s Notes: Concepts has been around since 1996 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, with stores in New York City and Dubai, the retailer has become a household name when it comes to premium kicks. Brands such as visvim, Giuseppe Zanotti, and Lanvin can be shopped alongside the more wallet-friendly New Balance, Nike, and ASICS sneakers. The variety of brands is one of Concepts’ strengths, as you’re always likely to find something you either had no idea existed or no idea you wanted (such as these velour Rick Owens x Birkenstock sandals). And, of course, you’ll also find limited releases including OFF-WHITE x Nike and adidas YEEZYs among Concepts’ online offerings.

Concepts stocks both carefully selected general release sneakers as well as the latest and greatest in collaborations from a host of sneaker boutiques worldwide. In addition, the Cambridge, Massachusetts store has a long history of successful collaborative sneakers with leading brands. One such is the Concepts x New Balance 999 Kennedy, considered by some to be one of the greatest collabs ever and the beginning of Concepts’ strong legacy of sneaker projects.

SSENSE

Site: SSENSE

Physical Locations: Montreal

Instagram: @ssense

Editor’s Notes: SSENSE deals primarily in independent, luxury, and streetwear products, and is based in Montreal, Canada. It was founded in 2003 by three brothers: Rami, Bassel, and Firas Atallah. SSENSE offers shoppers a premium selection of more formal footwear, boots, and sandals, as well as the usual on-trend sneakers.

While some retailers specialize in a certain style or type of footwear — and SSENSE certainly holds its own when it comes to luxury, high-end footwear — the retailer goes above and beyond through the sheer number of different brands and silhouettes it offers. Whether you’re looking for Balenciaga, PUMA, Fear of God, or Clarks Originals, you’re bound to find a shoe that speaks to you at SSENSE.

What separates SSENSE from other retailers is that it has an editorial team, headed by 032c’s Joerg Koch, that provides customers with a steady flow of content that ranges from seasonal guides to interviews with individuals from fashion, music, and the rest of the “culture.” Customers are treated more like readers, which results in those that take a time to browse the content on offer leaving the site with a better understanding of the product they have just bought. Another big project SSENSE runs is its Sneaker Week, which “explores the influence of footwear with no reservations” and is a multi-faceted approach to connecting with its customers on a deeper, less transactional level.

MR PORTER

MR PORTER

Site: MR PORTER

Physical Locations: N/A

Instagram: @mrporterlive

Editor’s Notes: MR PORTER was launched by online retailer NET-A-PORTER in 2010 and was originally described as the “first luxury men’s wear online retailer with a global reach” by the Financial Times. MR PORTER claims to sell more than 450 leading international brands, with worldwide express shipping to more than 170 countries (including same-day delivery in London and New York).

Like SSENSE, MR PORTER specializes in high-end footwear and clothing from brands such as Tom Ford, Brunello Cucinelli, Balenciaga, Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren, Loro Piana, A.P.C., Amiri, and Nike. Recently, though, the platform has also been offering quick-strike-type releases, including the YEEZY Boost 350 “Moonrock” and subsequent adidas YEEZY releases.

In addition to its varied selection of product, MR PORTER distinguishes itself from other retails in a number of ways. The portal offers next day delivery to certain locations, as well as a MR PORTER Premier Service, which provides same-day delivery in New York and select locations in New Jersey. MR PORTER also prides itself on customer service, which is important for a totally online shopping experience, especially when you’re returning product. A strong editorial team provides customers with trend reports and other editorials, such guides on how to wear certain styles in an effort to aide in selecting the right sneakers or threads.

KM20

Site: KM20

Physical Locations: Moscow

Instagram: @kuznetskymost20

Editor’s Notes: Kuznetsky Most 20, aka KM20, is Moscow’s premier streetwear and sneaker shopping destination. Founded in 2009 by Olga Karput, KM20 is credited by publications such as The Business of Fashion with bringing international brands and trends such as JW Anderson and YEEZY to Russia.

KM20 separates its footwear into three categories: sneakers, shoes and boots, and sandals. Brands stocked range from Fear of God to Gosha Rubchinskiy x adidas. Browsing online, you’ll find everything from limited collaborations to stylish classics. KM20 is also a great under-the-radar resource for finding collaborations that might have sold out elsewhere. In addition to sneakers from the usual suspects, KM20 has been known to be tapped as a collaborator from time to time, bringing its Moscow style to the world through sneakers.

If that hasn’t convinced you of KM20’s worthiness of a place on this list, the fact that the top floor of the store houses a restaurant should do the trick. Two floors of the new 2,500-square meter building are dedicated to  shopping, while the fourth is a full-fledged restaurant with 90 seats and a terrace overlooking the city center of Moscow.

Dover Street Market

Site: Dover Street Market

Physical Locations: London, New York, Tokyo, Beijing, and Singapore (Los Angeles coming late 2018)

Instagram: 
@doverstreetmarketlondon
@doverstreetmarketnewyork
@doverstreetmarketginza
@doverstreetmarketbeijing
@doverstreetmarketsingapore
@doverstreetmarketlosangeles

Editor’s Notes: Dover Street Market was launched by COMME des GARÇONS’ Rei Kawakubo and her husband Adrian Joffe. The original store was located on Dover Street in London, but since then, it has moved to Haymarket in the British capital and four more branches have opened around the world, with a new store opening this fall in Los Angeles.

Although the focus is on these physical locations, multi-brand retailers spanning multiple floors and carrying everything from Supreme and NOAH to UNDERCOVER and Balenciaga, Dover Street Market’s online store is no slouch either. A quick browse of the sneaker brands available shows a selection that includes the incredibly on-trend Salomon and Kiko Kostadinov’s latest collaboration with Camper.

At Dover Street Market, you’ll find simple classics among more out-there choices, some of which you’d be hard-pressed to find at other online sneaker retailers.

GR8

Site: GR8

Physical Locations: Tokyo

Instagram: @gr8_tokyo

Editor’s Notes: GR8’s physical store is located in Tokyo’s colorful Harajuku neighborhood. It boasts a selection of up-and-coming designers from around the world and mainstays from both the streetwear and luxe fashion realm.

As with other retailers on this list, GR8’s online store stocks a selection of hot releases, including the latest YEEZYs whenever they drop, alongside carefully selected general release silhouettes. Browsing GR8’s sneaker selection, you’ll find colorways or silhouettes you might not find elsewhere, making it well worth checking out.

JUICE

Site: CLOT

Physical Locations: Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Taipei, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Beijing

Instagram: @juice_hk@juice_la

Editor’s Notes: JUICE is one of Asia’s most respected sneaker boutiques, having a physical presence in multiple cities across the continent and even opening a store recently in Los Angeles. Its online selection of footwear is divided into sneakers, boots, and sandals.

The third category is the most limited, with only a handful of options. But in this case, less is more, with great high-end sandal choices such as CLOT x Buscemi and JUICE’s own collaboration with Suicoke available.

Sneakers-wise, you’ll find everything from Hender Scheme to adidas and Nike, including some more limited releases, such as the Concepts x adidas Consortium Energy Boost and the JW Anderson x Converse collab.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @Highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check our sneaker release date calendar, and subscribe to our sneaker chatbot on Facebook to receive lightning quick updates to your inbox.

Footwear Staff Writer

My mum says I won’t win a Pulitzer writing about Supreme. She’s wrong.

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