You might not describe the manic, tourist-riddled shopping scrum that is the area around Oxford Street as having a ‘neighbourhood’ vibe – or the hip factor – but Adidas wants to change that. Earlier this month the streetwear behemoth opened London’s first Originals flagship store on Foubert’s Place, just off Carnaby Street. It’s not only a home for its cult Originals range, but a space the brand hopes will bring together London’s creative – and sneaker-loving – community. This is the fourth Adidas Originals flagship in the world – there are others in Seoul, Shanghai and Berlin – and this is the UK’s first store 100 percent dedicated to Adidas Originals, the hip, bespoke arm of Adidas proper, with a focus on customisation, super-exclusive limited editions and collaborations with other brands and artists.
On our visit we spotted all manner of weird and wonderful shoe creations – including Adidas’ collaboration with Jeremy Scott – furry, tiger-print trainers with tails. There were also trainers covered in snakeskin. But should you like your sneakers less statement, you can also get hold of more classic-looking kicks like Stan Smiths. In coming months there’ll be collabs with Rita Ora, Spezial, Mary Katrantzou and Pharrell dropping in. You can even create your own designs using the Mi Adidas customisation service – and put your own photos on your trainers with the upcoming MIZXFlux photo app – should Pharrell’s shoes not be to your taste.
This is the latest in Adidas’ series of ‘neighbourhood’ concept stores, designed to reflect the culture of the cities in which they’re located (which would make London’s, presumably, the most awesome). Local creatives have been drafted in to put their mark on the space – including George the Poet, whose rhyme written specially for the store (yes, really) appears on the walls.
This place is Adidas’ cool credentials in shop form, so it’s no surprise that attention to detail here is meticulous. You won’t find rows and rows of products tumbling off shoddy display stands – the spacious shop is a slick, minimalist, industrial-feeling affair, with the interior designed to put the spotlight on the product. And it’s not just the concrete shelving units, the hip aesthetic even extends to the staff, including store manager Kyle Hougham. Beard, tats and undercut? Tick, tick, tick. He’s also got a background in skateboarding fashion and stint running a Shoreditch streetwear store under his belt – his style know-how will undoubtedly play a part in shaping the shop’s future.
The shop will be home to a regular schedule of both public and private events, including gigs, film screenings and meet-and-greets with Originals collaborators. ‘To me, the “neighbourhood” is the whole city’, Kyle says. ‘We wanted to draw people from different areas and different boroughs within [London]. Having somewhere central is the best place to do that.’