Anytime we create a best-of list, we’re bound to get some pushback. We all want our ‘hood, our team, our friends and our cities to recognized for their greatness. If you’ve lived someplace like New York or Los Angeles, you know the sheer magnitude of these types of cities pretty much puts them on another level. But that doesn’t mean that smaller cities can’t get their shine on. To follow up our Best Sneaker Cities in the World, we want to take a look at some of the cities that might not primarily be known for sneakers, but will still make for a great destination for sneakerheads. Of course, we may not have your city on this list either, but if not, we want to hear from you in the comments to find out what makes your city stand out. Check out The Most Underrated Sneaker Cities in the World.
15. NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans may have taken a hit with Katrina but the determination of the city’s resident sneakerheads still drives a healthy community of enthusiasts. Shops like Politics have helped get the city back on its feet, and into fresh new kicks. And you thought Nola was just about Mardi Gras and boobie beads.
14. SAN DIEGO
San Diego is the most slept on city in the state of California, overshadowed by its neighbors to the north, even when it comes to sneakers. But, over the past few years, this has changed drastically. With streetwear and design brands like 5&ADime and Product Etc, and sneaker stores like Blends and Rosewood, now painting a new canvas for SD’s East Village, the heat on the street is more present than ever.
Sacramento may be known on a national level as a cow town but to sneakerheads that live in the California capital, it’s anything but (OK, maybe a little cow town-ish). The buildings may not tower quite as high as other cities but when it comes to ground level, there’s arguably more dope kicks being worn in Sacramento than any other city in California. Stores like FTC and PLA hold down the skate ‘heads, while retailers like House of Hoops, Shoe Palace and Sheikh make sure those Saturday morning releases are readily available.
Seattle may not have the best weather for sneakers, considering the amount of rain the city gets, but there is no shortage of sneakerheads. From the first sneaker consignment store back in the day, to the footwear industry of the neighboring Portland area, it’s no wonder Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and others always had dope kicks.
With one of the first New Balance Experience stores in the world and flagship stores for Bape and adidas Y-3, the sneaker life is well and good in Beijing. It’s a wonder we don’t see more trends coming from one of the most visited cities in the world.
Detroit may be bankrupt financially, but not creatively. Forget the car companies, and look at what’s being turned out by Burn Rubber and Rick Williams’ District Life brand. If Detroit can indeed be saved, it’ll be because of the people and brands like them.
“Keep Austin Weird” is the motto, and there are no shortage of people doing exactly that. But along with the people who wear ponchos with Speedos and such are a vast population of young folks who have more, well, conventional tastes. There’s a reason Nice Kicks located to Austin and opened a shop there, and it’s not just for the food at Chuy’s.
Baltimore’s DTLR is one of the premier retailers in the country by most accounts. Take into consideration the success of events like the Baltimore Sneaker Show and it’s no doubt that the B’More is slept on. Also see the Air Force 1 and Carmelo Anthony.
What you know about the Dirty South? The ATL may be better known for clean Caddys and gators, but there’s no shortage of sneakers (and sneakerheads) in the Dungeon Family stronghold. If only Big Boi had copped his Sneaker Pimps joints from somewhere legit.
London isn’t the only sneaker-centric city in the UK. Have some respect for Glasgow (that’s in Scotland), home to the world-renowned Hanon Shop. We are still waiting for a collaboration inspired by haggis.
This is America’s fault. As the original founders of “sneaker culture,” Americans took a long time to accept that people elsewhere could be contributing as well (funny, since adidas was turning out innovative product in Germany before Phil Knight started running track). Some people still don’t get it. But places like Stockholm, Sweden are just as central to this as anyplace in America – just look at all the collabs Sneakesnstuff has put out this year alone. Respect.
How, exactly, does one sleep on the largest city (by population) in China? It’s not easy, especially as Shanghai has received not one, but two Nike Dunk SBs. But as the East opens up to wider distribution of Western brands – and if D. Wade’s Li Nings ever drop in the States – expect Shanghai to appear on that other list sooner rather than later.
3. LAS VEGAS
Besides being a mere four-hour drive from Los Angeles, Las Vegas is one of those places that draws the wealthy from all over the world. And high rollers don’t always wear Italian loafers. In recent years, sneaker boutiques have joined the other places where the newly rich can purge their winnings. It’s been a long time since Sinatra at the Sands was the pinnacle of Vegas style.
But wait, wasn’t Toronto… Yes, they were on the best sneaker cities list as well, but it’s still possible (and probable) that they’re not receiving their just due. The sneaker exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum was historic, and their boutiques keep up with those in the States. Too bad the prices don’t.
Portland is a special case. Is it a big-time sneaker city? Technically it’s the biggest, what with Nike and adidas making their homes there. And with all kinds of crazy samples turning up in the city’s consignment shops, it’s not just the employees who get to rock one-of-a-kind heat. And boutiques like Compound supply the latest hyperstrikes from both the “local” brands and others. But it’s also not put on the same level with the New Yorks, Londons and Tokyos. At least, not yet.
* Repost via Complex Sneakers