For three days this month (December 6-8), the glittering Dubai Design District (popularly called d3) became a mecca for those who worship streetwear and contemporary sneaker culture, as Sole DXB kicked off its seventh edition. Far from the towering skyscrapers of Dubai, the flat expanse of d3 hosted some of the biggest footwear brands in the world, alongside labels that define today’s street-chic sensibilities. Our home base was the towering adidas Originals stand, a cleverly designed space spread out over four floors that had both consumers and influencers flocking to it all weekend. At any given time, the line to enter snaked around the structure.
Once inside, it was easy to see why. Each floor hosted a separate interactive zone that brought the very best of the brand to the public. Floor 1 was the Smash Floor, which housed limited edition drops of the Dragonball Z, Never Made, and Kids collections, as well as the Yung Series, which featured the Continental 80 silhouette, Yung 96, and the hotly anticipated reimagined Falcon. This time, adidas Originals upgraded the shoe with a new design and a bold colour scheme that was pure ’90s throwback bliss. And in the very centre of the space, was what we were introduced to as The Smash Cage, a 360-degree mirrored room that was pure genius on the brand’s part—taking the very meaning of “interactive” and pushing it to the limit. Consumers were first made to choose a giant block, which had sexist messages printed on the side, such as “Women belong in the kitchen, “Petite=weak”, and “Only men should be bold”. Once they picked their peeve, they were made to wear protective gear and goggles, and armed with a baseball bat, before being ushered into the mirrored room with strict instructions to smash the block of their choice into millions of little pieces—effectively “smashing” patriarchy and stereotypes.
After that exhilarating exercise in self-expression, floor two was comparatively zen and introspective. Dubbed The Creators Floor, this is where your wildest wardrobe dreams could become reality, thanks to adidas Originals’s dedicated—and very hands-on—customisation crew. On this floor, you could pick up a T-shirt and turn it into a crop-top, or turn a jersey into an off-shoulder piece—literally nearly anything your mind came up with, was achievable. All you had to do was pick your piece, proceed to the design counter, fill out a form, sit with the designer as they sketched a version of your outfit, and then take it over to the sewing station where hems were dropped, pockets were ripped and everyone became a designer, resulting in the birth of some very cool avant-garde ensembles we spotted walking around. The kicker? You just needed to pay for your piece, the design and customisation was totally free.
Next up, the Panna Football Floor—a steel cage that hosted some of the best ball skills we’ve seen in a long time, and also doubled as the venue of a very slick freestyle rap-off. This is also where the Copa Boot, a classic football boot that has been brought into the 21st century, was to be found. The adidas Copa has been redeveloped, with the brand marrying new technology with the look of a reimagined classic. And to top everything off, the top floor of the adidas Originals was reserved for sundowners— with DJs including S.O.N.Y.A, Shef Codes, and Erratic Dreamer spinning over the course of the weekend—where guests, influencers and key friends of the brand mingled under a steadily deepening desert sky before the night-time revelry began.
While the daytime was for snapping up coveted merchandise, frequenting the food stalls and witnessing street-style that was equal parts surreal and superb, the night was all about the music. And adidas Originals had the biggest chunk of the pie, thanks to the fact that it hosted British rapper Giggs, who is also the founder of record label and rap collective SN1. His high-energy set brought everyone to the main stage, bags of bespoke Originals apparel in tow.
From the outside looking in, Sole DXB is a giant footwear fest for steadfast sneaker fans—just ask drummer duo Shreya Naik and Vivaan Kapoor aka Chickeen Masala, who won the raffle to experience Sole DXB with adidas Originals. But on the inside, it’s so much more—it’s a cultural extravaganza, jam-packed with dynamic street style, high-octane performances, amazing deals and drops, and some of the coolest people you’ll meet anywhere. If Sole DXB 2018 was anything to go by, we’re waiting and watching for next year.
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