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Everything you need to know about Sole DXB

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The world of footwear, streetwear and music collide once again at Dubai Design District, with an event that is gaining traction as one of the most eagerly anticipated in the region. Most of the major sportswear brands will be present, new launches are promised, films and talks fill up the programme and, perhaps most exciting of all, there’s a stellar lineup of DJs, MCs and rappers. You’ll need a decent pair of trainers just to get around it all.
When: November 18-19
Where: Dubai Design District (d3), www.soledxb.com

Day 0

Large Professor and Diamond D
Where: SoleDXB Lounge
When: November 17, 10pm
Large Professor is one of the biggest names in hip-hop production and has worked with Nas, Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane and last year’s headliners, Mobb Deep. Bronx native Diamond D is a founding member of iconic hip-hop crew Diggin’ In The Crates.

Day 1

Puma Clyde X Sole “Swag”
Where: Early Retirement
When: November 18, 3.30pm
This limited edition sneaker is dropping exclusively this weekend. Tanned ostrich leather and gold tip laces make it a stand-out choice. AED620.

Dâm Funk
Where: SoleDXB Stage
When: November 18, 8.30pm
The new-wave funk artist on Stones Throw Records who created the famous Funkmosphere parties in his native California.

Little Simz
Where: SoleDXB Stage
When: November 18, 10pm
Kendrick Lamar described British rapper Little Simz as “the illest thing out there right now” and she is taking time out from supporting Lauryn Hill’s US tour to fly to Dubai.

Stretch Armstrong
Where: SoleDXB Lounge
When: November 18, 10pm
Having presented his film Radio That Changed Lives at Sole DXB in 2015, Stretch returns to Dubai to close proceedings at the show’s afterparty.

Day 2

Skepta
Where: SoleDXB Stage
When: November 19, 10pm
The Mercury Music Prize-winning grime artist from North London comes to Dubai for his first ever show, hot on the heels of his album, Konnichiwa.

Sole Searching in South America
How two sneakerheads found the mother lode of old Adidas trainers

It’s like American Pickers for trainer fans. Gary Aspen, who has been working for Adidas since the 1990s, received a tip-off about a shop in Argentina that was full of Adidas dead stock. So, last year, he grabbed collector Robert Brooksy, hired a film crew, booked a flight, and went on the world’s best treasure hunt. The resulting film, Sole Searching in South America, is being screened at Sole DXB. We asked Gary about the discovery.

The tip off: “It came from a guy called Tom Ramsden, who began as my first intern at Adidas before going on to do great things with Originals and later Adidas Football. But we had no idea what was actually in those blue boxes – for all we knew it could have been ice skates, running spikes and specialist sports shoes.”

The plan: “Eventually, Adidas Argentina verified that the shop existed but they weren’t able to tell us what styles were in his stock – in fact, they were as shocked as we were about it. The owner, Carlos, has not had an account with Adidas since the days when it was produced under license there. It was a gamble but it was a chance we just had to take.”

The trip: “We flew two months after the tip-off. We arrived with a mixture of nervousness and excitement; one hurdle we hadn’t considered was that Carlos does not sell to many people. Once he realised that we were buying products for research for the Spezial range, and that we were genuine lovers of the brand rather than mercenary resellers, he warmed to us…”

The film: “Many thought it was staged or too good to be true – but if that had been the case, we’d be marketing geniuses! Also, Carlos has since received literally thousands of visitors from all over the world who have all seen the shop first hand and met him personally.”

The purchases: “That would be telling!”

The next adventure: “Last week I met a guy from the US who has about 300 pairs (all pre-1989) that had belonged to his late father. He didn’t want to sell but we talked about perhaps including them in a future Spezial exhibition.”

Sole Searching in South America is being screened at Sole DXB on November 19, 4.45pm

Concepts
The new outlet in City Walk is a museum to sneaker cool. Rami Afifi meets the man behind it, Deon Point

He’s been hailed as one of the 25 most influential sneaker-heads in the world and, just last month, he brought his boutique store Concepts to Dubai’s City Walk.

The brand began life in a Boston suburb in 1996 and soon expanded to New York, making a name not just from the limited edition trainers they sold but through collaborations of their own – chiefly with New Balance.

It’s a sign of the growing influence of Dubai as a market, and the love of streetwear here, that he decided to open store number three at City Walk ahead of locations like London or Tokyo. We met him just as the doors opened.

So, first question, why here in Dubai and not more established fashion capitals?
Dubai was slightly more challenging, which piqued our interest. There is a sneaker culture growing at a rapid pace, but it’s new enough for us to help along. I think the misconception of Dubai is everyone living lavish lifestyles; while that aspect exists, there is so much more happening. The architecture is breathtaking and they have roots in X Games, UFC and soccer, so it fits our overall vibe.

Concepts is a pretty broad name. Is there a reason behind it?
Our name was chosen for a couple reasons. First off, it gave us the flexibility we needed to evolve as our lifestyle matured. Secondly, we needed a name that would allow us to work with different brands while building concept shops with us. We are talking back in 1996, so the idea of concept shops within a retail space was entirely new. We were definitely way ahead of our time and it took some getting used to.

What is your favourite collab?
I can’t pinpoint one specifically as we’ve had quite a few. I personally loved the Blue Lobster [with Nike, 2009] because of the attention to detail and having to overcome a sophomore jinx. I think our most recognisable was the Rose New Balance, though. The planets just seemed to align on that one.

What sophomore jinx was that? What was the first pair of Concepts collabs you worked
on and released?

Haha! Let’s not discuss my first collab, please – I try my hardest to forget it! Let’s just say I was overzealous in what I wanted to accomplish. When my initial wishes couldn’t happen, I fell behind the timelines and had to rush. Trust me, it showed. Our first collab worth acknowledging was in 2008. At that time we had no formal design background so we kind of learned as we went.

Outside of Concepts collaborations, what are your favourite pairs of kicks?
I loved the Supreme Blazers, Slam Jam Asics (Gel Lyte III), and Atmos Air Max 1.

Your packaging is as notorious as your shoe designs themselves. Why are you so adventurous with the presentation?
We always wanted to balance the scales of a partnership. It wasn’t enough to see Concepts x Nike, or Concepts x NB. For us it was the ability to fully tell the story behind our inspiration. As we evolved, we welcomed the challenge of designing packaging as well as the actual design of the shoe.

Are you planning on doing any Dubai exclusive shoes?
Yes, of course. Right now, opening is our main focus, so things will be held off for the moment but in the future we will have Dubai-specific products as well as projects telling stories pertaining to the GCC region.

Would you consider collaborating with any local brands?
We will, absolutely. We are looking more towards staples in the culture and shedding light on those. Again, the culture is so rich we feel the need to contribute to it rather than take away from it. We will be looking to tell those stories from our lens and hopefully opening up doors within our market to those types of timeless brands.
Hear Deon Point in a panel discussion at the Talk Space on November 18, 6pm

www.soledxb.com

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