What is streetwear, and what is it about it that makes people pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for a pair of shoes? In short, it's a fashion subculture based on an amalgamation of hip-hop, skateboarding, sports, punk, and plenty of other influences that has evolved into one of the most influential aesthetic movements of the past ten years. Streetwear's success lies in a collision of high and low culture: The clothes are working class and informal in origin, but the culture of so-called hype around the biggest brands and designers, plus the collectible nature of the clothes, means streetwear fans, sometimes known as hypebeasts, will pay big bucks for the newest, most interesting item from their favorite labels.
No figure symbolizes the rise of streetwear better than Virgil Abloh. The designer began his career in partnership with Kanye West, first at Fendi, where the two interned, and then at West's creative agency, Donda. Abloh used his association with the rapper to jump-start his brand Off-White, which sells T-shirts for hundreds of dollars and shoes for thousands — that is, once they quickly sell out and are relisted on sites such as Grailed and StockX. He's now the menswear director at Louis Vuitton, and Off-White recently announced a Miami store will open this spring. You don't have to wait that long to dive into the culture, however. New Times has put together the best places to shop for streetwear, whether you're new to the game or a seasoned pro. Let's link and build, fam.
Andrew10 NE First Ave., Miami
Streetwear and skate culture have been intimately intertwined for as long as anyone can remember, so it makes perfect sense that this downtown skate shop has become the epicenter of both scenes in Miami. Skateboard decks line the walls, and the brand's well-crafted shirts and other merchandise rely on Miami-centric imagery such as hurricanes and logos from the likes of Jupiña, the Heat, and even the iconic Little Havana restaurant Versailles. The trio in charge of Andrew — Adrian Douzmanian, Nick Katz, and Pres Rodriguez — grew up in South Florida and grew the shop out of Peachfuzz, the iconic Miami hip-hop party, as a new place for the streetwear and skating scenes to congregate. It worked, and now the shop has been heralded as a revitalizing factor of Miami's downtown; Katz also helped open the skate park Lot 11 down the street under an I-95 overpass. But what really makes Andrew a beloved part of local culture is its sense of humor — sure, the store will hold those Travis Scott sneakers for you if you're desperate to cop 'em, but you might have to sing for your purchase first.
A Bathing Ape137 NE 39th St., Miami
The 305 is still waiting for streetwear kingpins Supreme and Off-White, but last year, the beloved Japanese label A Bathing Ape touched down with a Design District flagship and a special-edition capsule collection featuring a unique pink-and-turquoise camo pattern. Founded by designer Tomoaki Nagao (AKA Nigo) in the Japanese street-style epicenter of Harajuku, Tokyo, A Bathing Ape (AKA BAPE) gained worldwide popularity in the mid-2000s thanks to its now-iconic logo, collectible items such as Bapesta sneakers and shark hoodies, and plenty of celebrity cosigns. Nigo marketed the brand in the '90s by giving shirts to musician friends such as Cornelius and invited the likes of Kanye West and Pharrell Williams to collaborate on special editions, pioneering the now-common fashion practice. Ironically, the brand's name is a dig at its own consumers: It's derived from the Japanese saying "a bathing ape in lukewarm water," which describes someone indulging pointlessly. Of course, pointless indulgence is kind of what Miami's all about, so BAPE should fit in well here.
Billionaire Boys Club255 NW 25th St., Miami
It doesn't inspire the same fervent following as Supreme or Off-White, but this brand started in 2003 by Pharrell Williams and BAPE designer Nigo has established quite a footprint for itself via a massive Wynwood outpost in association with Adidas. Both brands can be found here, along with clothes from Commes des Garçons Play, Neighborhood, and Japanese-inspired streetwear and merchandise such as Takashi Murakami plushes and Medicom figures. Because this is Wynwood, a side room houses a selfie-friendly outer-space-themed display featuring a giant astronaut helmet and sneakers floating on magnetic bases. A few Miami-themed items were available on a recent visit, and unlike many streetwear shops, Billionaire Boys Club offers a sale rack.
Flight Club3910 NE First Ave., Miami
This New York sneaker dealer's Design District outpost might as well be considered a museum of hype shoes. The latest and greatest sneakers, from Nike's recent collabs with Sacai to every variety of Yeezy you could imagine, are on display out front. Everything is wrapped in plastic and behind glass while the true merchandise is boxed up in the back behind a steel grate. It makes the browsing experience a bit antiseptic, but the selection is hard to doubt. Flight Club even boasts a column of Florida sports-themed sneakers, which are, presumably, not for sale.
Kith1931 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Before this famed New York streetwear purveyor expanded to Los Angeles, it landed in South Beach. Nestled between Collins Park and the ocean on Collins Avenue, Kith opened its Miami Beach store in 2016 and has seen a brisk business from tourists and locals ever since. Head honcho Ronnie Fieg opened Kith in Brooklyn in 2011 after becoming well known in streetwear as the brains behind the Brooklyn boutique David X. It was there that Fieg, who's less a designer than a savvy businessman with a good eye, established his talent of finding unique brand collaborations, a technique that has become a staple of the culture. He began with his own take on the Asics Gel Lyte III, and he has since combined Kith's in-house line with nearly every brand — fashion or otherwise — under the sun: Adidas and New Balance, Aimé Leon Dore and Versace, and even Power Rangers and Coca-Cola. At the shop, you'll find Kith-branded merch and collabs as well as a wealth of other brands, such as Hoka, G-Shock, Needles, Heron Preston, Cav Empt, Onitsuka Tiger, and many more. You'll also find Kith Treats: a concession stand that sells cereal and milk, ice cream, and other confections.
Lower East Coast84 NE 39th St., Miami
Sure, you can buy clothes at this Design District store where arcade machines and old VHS tapes contrast with stark, modernist decor, but what really makes Lower East Coast a draw is the printed matter. This is Miami's sole importer of iconic Japanese fashion magazines such as Popeye, Go Out, and Lightning which go into the nerdy details and exhaustive research that put the American menswear press to shame. Publications on sports, comics, and art, as well as independent zines, are also available, making LEC one of the most interesting boutique book shops in the city. Streetwear brands such as Central Bookings, Carhartt W.I.P., the Good Company, and LEC's own line can also be found here.
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Shoe Gallery244 NE First Ave., Miami
The oldest shop on this list, downtown mainstay Shoe Gallery has been in business since 1979 and has won Best Sneaker Store in New Times' Best of Miami rankings at least twice, in 2012 and 2017. Founder Abram Waserstein started the shop after leaving Cuba, and the place has stayed in the family for three generations, each one keeping in step with changing trends in footwear. In other words, these folks know their stuff, whether you're looking for the latest ultralimited Nike x Off-White collab or just a pair of everyday sneakers to beat the shit out of.
Unknwn261 NW 26th St., Miami
The one thing that should be "knwn" about this brand is that LeBron James founded it with childhood friends Jaron Kanfer and Frankie Walker Jr. in 2011. Back then, it was a (relatively) humble sneaker shop with a location at Aventura Mall, but last year, it opened a second location — a massive storefront opposite Wynwood Walls — during Miami Art Week. So it's no surprise the new place is a gleaming destination for high-end streetwear in the arts district. Complete with a basketball court outside and a bronze basketball hoop sculpture in the middle of the showroom, Unknwn carries a mix of streetwear, haute couture, and 305-centric merch. You'll find BAPE, Comme de Garçons Play, and all kinds of Nikes, but you'll also get brands that straddle the line between low and high fashion, including Stone Island, Common Projects, and Maison Martin Margiela, as well as one of LeBron's favorite brands, Thom Browne. Unknwn sells its own line here as well.