Sole DXB proves to be a big hit

Jay Asser 09:20 23/11/2016
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Dubai is often a city without identity, its melting pot of culture making it both malleable and shapeless. But sometimes, at its most defined, it can have moments of just being really freaking cool.

Sole DXB was one of those occasions, bringing together people who have distinct tastes in alternative culture, footwear, fashion, music and sport to one venue at Dubai Design District this past weekend.

If you’re someone who rocks the OVO brand, the two-day festival was definitely for you. But it was also for anyone who enjoys sneaker culture, hip hop music, the latest trends and basketball, making the event feel accessible while still creating a vibe like you’re sitting at the cool kids’ table.

‘Cool’ is a word that’s difficult to get away from in trying to describe Sole DXB, which launched in 2010. You know that dude that always has the freshest pair of Jordans and can bust dance moves with ease when Migos comes on? Yeah, that’s the human embodiment of Sole DXB.

But you didn’t have to be that dude to feel like the event was right up your alley. From something as small as a pop-up shop selling Stance socks to the street style of basketball that was at the centre of the festival, Sole DXB likely felt like a personal experience of catering to specific interests for the thousands of people that showed up.

A portion of those goers were there just to buy, sell or trade their kicks and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better outlet for that. The rows of retro editions must have been a sensory overload for sneakerheads, while Yeezys that have long been sold out in stores were readily available – as long as you care enough about what’s on your feet to shell out over Dhs4,000.

Even if you weren’t looking to leave with a new pair and your wallet feeling lighter, sneaker lovers were able to appreciate the history and timelessness at the museumlike set-ups for brands like Adidas and Nike, which, by the way, had the novel concept of being situated in a giant shoe box.

“Sole DXB in and of itself is like a dream event,” Bobbito Garcia told Sport360. “You don’t often see Nike, Adidas and Puma within like 25 feet of each other. That’s really rare. These brands hate each other, but I think they see the opportunity here in Dubai, they see what Sole DXB has done the last five years to develop and expose culture.”

Garcia’s name should sound familiar for any basketball fan. The New York City legend is synonymous with streetball, Harlem’s famous Rucker Park and sneaker culture. He kept the spectators watching the Sole Ball Above All Classic entertained during the tournament.

Garcia’s played ball in 41 countries and announced games since 1983, so if anyone can identify a unique urban setting, it’s the veteran. As they say, real recognise real.

“I think Dubai will eventually create a distinct and unique movement that will be different than what other cities represent,” he said. “There are so many different people here and they’re all mixing, so I think when you get that type of connectivity, what’s going to happen is an own style is going to emerge from all of that and I really look forward to seeing that.”

If you were at Sole DXB and felt like you could have just as easily been in New York City, London or any other metropolis, that wasn’t a coincidence according to Brandblack founder David Raysse.

“Culture is transcending places now. The same group of people are almost everywhere,” he told Sport360°.

Brandblack is exactly the type of thing Sole DXB was made for. The Los Angeles-based footwear brand, which merge sport with fashion, are relatively underground, but have such a presence that they’ve partnered with the NBA’s Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and the NFL’s DeSean Jackson of Washington.

Raysse, who was in Dubai for the first time, considers the market to be one of the most important for Brandblack and got to witness firsthand the high level of passion for urban fashion and footwear which he didn’t see coming.

“I had an idea of what it was going to be in my mind. It’s so much bigger and so much cooler,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a sneaker convention and I’ve seen sneaker conventions. But I’m blown away.”

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