Moving from Melbourne to London in 2007, I had no idea my love for sneakers would be renewed. I had grown up as the youngest of 9 children, all basketball players. Even my dad was playing into his late 40s. Therefore, I had some great hand-me-downs, thanks to my older brothers and sisters. I turned up to my high school games rocking Dee Brown’s Reebok Pump Omni Lites, Jordan V Black/Metallics, Jordan Olympic VIIs, and the Converse Run n Slams KJ wore for the Phoenix Suns in the 90s. Throw my Jordan IIs, and Jordan XIIIs into the mix… and I was in heaven.
Then, I moved to the UK. Not a basketball sneaker in sight.
Sure in Melbourne you’d see your fair share of casual sneakers too, but they were mainly Chuck Taylors. The odd Adidas shell-toe here and there too of course… but not too much variety. Although if you were after basketball sneakers, you could head to any sneaker store you liked, and take your pick.
Meanwhile in London, although Nike Town London had opened in 1999… they were stocking mostly track shoes. The closest we’d get to basketball shoes was some Air Force 1s. The good thing is… I was all in; venturing into London sneaker stores like ‘Size?’, I had a revitalized love for sneakers. My first purchases here being some Adidas EQTs, Puma R698s and Saucony Grid 9000s to name a few.
It did help that my physio had said to get some sneakers with more support (I had been mainly wearing Chuck Taylor’s most of my life). So to move to the UK and see Hexalite and Trinomic cushioning flooding the shelves… it made my day.
Something I did notice when I went to purchase another pair of Chucks in London’s famous Carnaby Street was the amount of adidas Sambas and Gazelles, and of course, Stan Smiths. This is a hallmark of European football in the 70s and 80s. Infamously, the story goes that the British football fans would follow their teams around continental Europe, hit on unsuspecting clothing stores, and return to the UK head-to-toe in designer garb including trainers you could only pick up overseas.
Although things have changed slightly over the years, with the NBA gaining a stronger British following, everywhere you go you’re bound to see all the old classics still going strong. Niketown now has a basketball section, where you can get the latest from Jordan, Kyrie and Lebron; but… head down the road into Soho, and you’re deep into Puma, adidas and Converse in their flagship London stores.
It’s the variety here I love. And with people now ordering sneakers from all over the world, it’s one big melting pot of absolute heat.
If you want it here, they’ve got it. You just need to know where to look.