When it comes to the latest and greatest in menswear coming off of Paris and Milan's runways, the average Miami dude just doesn't get it, nor does he give two shits. But when it comes to the very touchy subject of their kicks, however, Miami men could school the best of them -- that means you, NYC and LA; yeah, we just called you out.
It all started in 1984 when Nike and His Airness, Michael Jordan, revolted against NBA standards and splashed a bold, Chicago Bulls colorway of red and black onto what everyone knows now as the first pair of Air Jordan 1. Thirty years later, and the game has expanded exponentially with the acquisition of mega stars on and off the court, collaborating with billion dollar accounts to constantly pop out rain-makers like Yeezy's Air 2 Red Octobers (still), and the continuance of the perpetually sold-out Air Jordan dynasty (#forevershallyourule).
The sneakerhead subculture got so huge in fact that people started making a lucrative income just by collecting and selling these "wearable memorabilia."
But it seems Miami's sneak-scene in particular has violently peaked as of late, not just for the fellas, but for their equally fly boo-thangs, as well. Some say LeBron is to blame for the sudden spike of footwear flow in Miami; others concede that it's just a general desire to express individualism. But the real question, of course, lies in where to retrieve the freshest pair of kicks around town.
Now, you could just settle for your nearest Footlocker or Famous Footwear for the latest releases of SB Dunks or "Triple Blacks," but the odds of being paired up with a sales associate who actually knows their shit is slim. That's why Cultist is pointing you in the direction of the experts of Miami; guys who serve to inform, wake up to Sneaker News, live for the illest colorway trends, and genuinely just want to make you their homie.
Here are Miami's Top Five Sneaker Boutiques in no particular order.
Despite it's conspicuous coordinates right off of US 1, most people zoom straight past the sneaker treasure trove known as Solefly. But little do they know, a faux mini-court stocked with some of the best -- and most exclusive -- Jordans lurks right beneath their very noses. They even did their very own exclusive collaboration with Jordan called the Solefly 3.
Sadly, the 3m, soft white leather and terry cloth interior soles aren't for sale. But besides being in good with the Jordan fam, other sneakers are bound to steal your attention. The heavy retro runner selection toward the front of the store has some of their best sellers, like the Asics Gel Lyte 3 in the all red colorway (thanks, Yeezy) and the Free Flyknit 4.0. To compliment their shoe game, the store also plays home to the most trending brands in streetwear like Publish, Ten Deep, Diamond Supply, Staple, and high-end up-and-comer, Drifter. And while the merch pretty much speaks for itself, what ties everything together at Solefly is the staff ready to bend-over-backwards for its loyal clientele, or "homies," as assistant store manager Izzi puts it. "There are no stupid questions here," he says.
Doesn't sound much like a sneaker store at all, does it? But pass through the doors of the burgeoning South Beach consignment sneaker spot and all shall be revealed. You're first greeted by a rotating airport conveyor belt, displaying air-tight saran-wrapped shoes, and old-school terminal-benches imported from Madrid's Baraja's Airport.
Why the saran wrap fetish, you ask? It's to guarantee that the shoes are kept in the most pristine condition for their future owners. Not only do patrons get the chance to buy one-of-a-kind finds like the first edition of the Jordan 1 (in the original Chicago Bulls colorway) and crème-de-la-crème designer names like Balenciaga, and Giuseppe at ATC, but you can sell your kicks, too!
"We give the consumer a platform to sell their shoe," says owner Daai Lo. Even though their sport is reselling other people's pre-owned sneaks, the shoe standard is set extremely high. All sneakers must be unworn (or at least appear to be), and they must be authentic. How's that for traffic control? As far as percentages go, the store insists on giving its consignee 75 percent of the earnings, which is insanely fair by consignment standards."70 percent of our consignees are young guys and making a decent living of $10,000 to $60,000 a year, clearing the commission." Evidence enough to ditch that crappy day job and start selling those kicks.
Kendall, once deprived from the likes of fresh, rubber midsoles, has been recently shaken up by sneaker boutique The Edition. Having opened two locations in Kendall and West Kendall, 19-year old storeowner Michael LoBue caters to the new generation of sneakerheads. Though new to the Miami sneaker scene, this young buck has quickly garnered street cred, hence being the only dealer in Miami to carry Dwayne Wade's new line Way of Wade. In October, he'll release the much-anticipated Wade 3s.
If Pretty Boy Wade's collection doesn't grab you at first, the giant score bored in the middle of LoBue's newest location, off of SW 104th St., sure as hell will do the trick. The aesthetic of the store is meant to mimic the American Airlines Arena, with all LED lighting and half-court floors. The store may be AAA-inspired, but it's more driven by fashion rather than athletics. California brands like Crooks and Castles, Publish, Rastaclat, and Han Cholo jewelry make up the majority, and are followed by up-and-comers like Bucketfeet and Sprayground backpacks, who has a sick Grand Theft Auto illustrated backpack out right now and just did a joint donation with the store on Power 96, donating ten school bags. But as far as what's really pushing in the store LoBue says, "right now a lot of people are going back to the old stuff, like Air Max."
Irrefutably the ultimate purveyor of Jordans, it's no wonder the 7-year-old Washington Ave. location made it on to our list. The antithesis of pretentious, its flagship store boasts a down-to-earth vibe for locals and wayfarers alike, letting their product do all the talking. But besides the obvious details of rubber soles attributing to its glory, the store hours of the beach location is what makes this spot so distinguishable. Open till midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends, nocturnal sneakerheads can get their fix up until the wee ours of the night.
Limited editions and exclusive colorways are always bringing hordes of customers stampeding through Soles' doors. The styles currently making waves are hands down the Jordan Future with 3M stitching in limited colorways, the Air Force 1 in exclusive prints, and the limited edition Barney's X Jordan collab, store manager Nick Mendez says. These are running customers up $400. Hot damn, that's a lot of green. Men's streetwear lines like Billionaire Boys Club and BWood NYC also lend a nice touch to the store's swag.
King LeBron James, alongside co-owners Jaron Kanfer and Chris Julian, visualized the whole concept behind Unknwn, housed in the megalithic likes of the Aventura Mall. While the attachment to the former star of the Miami Heat does gain a significant amount of attention from the public, its resourcefulness and mission to "graduate" young guys into men is what maintains a constant flow of clientele.
With the exposure of over a hundred vendors, the boutique flawlessly welds streetwear brands like Boy London with ready-to-wear names like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Hood by Air; Sneakers like Reeboks and Jordans unite with high-end designers Marcelo Burlon and Common Projects.
"That's where we believe fashion is going -- it's the high and the low," Kanfer says. Unlike most brick-and-mortar stores that see technology as a looming threat, Unknwn gladly adapts it into their selling approach. "We represent the new form of consumerism," Julian says. For each Jordan and Foamposite mounted on its sneaker shelf, is a coinciding iPad to serve as an educational tool for the less informed. "Our number one priority is being informative to our clientele and giving options as an information center," Kanfer says.
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