We all know the song: “Get your kicks on Route 66.” But there are kicks and there are kicks, and the best kicks to be had in the city are found at our five favorite sneaker stores. Oh, you say that kids don’t call them kicks anymore? Fair enough. You can’t blame us for trying. By Jessica Allen.
Based in Japan, atmos chose Harlem for the location of the first US store, and we’re so glad they did. The store’s selection ranges from the rare to the limited release to the new to the hyped up and super fancy, from Nike to Adidas to Timberlands. That said, atmos is less about the warehouse vibe (with everything in stock and on display), and more about the boutique feel. Not only is the selection super-curated, but the staff is super-friendly, totally willing to help you find the ideal sneakers, whether for wearing or displaying.
Flight Club caters to the collector, the vintage shopper, the limited-edition seeker, and the need-it-new, need-it-now purchaser, a category we’re pretty sure we just made up. At any rate, this Soho store features new sneakers as well as never worn vintage ones. If you can’t find it online or at the NYC location just south of Union Square, the store just might have it in stock at its LA outpost. But we’re pretty sure you’ll be able to find something you like on the ginormous sneaker wall, featuring over 1,300 pairs.
With two locations, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, Kith has you covered. As owner/designer Ronnie Feig has said, “I want people to come into the store and leave with a dope pair of shoes, and a feeling that they are a part of something special. My crew has been with me since the beginning.” The vibe at the Manhattan location is high-end, with lots of black and shine to better display the shoes and apparel on sale, as befits its Noho address. But remember: when you’re here, you’re family.
So successful was Rime at the men’s sneaker game that the store expanded into women’s sneakers a few years ago (and expanded itself too, adding an Upper East Side location to its original Brooklyn one). The stock, including Nike, Converse, Reebok, Alfie, and Vans, is meant to be worn, rather than ogled, and the sales staff will help you accordingly. Work your way from the feet up by checking out Rime’s apparel and accessories (including bags, backpacks, and branded headphones), too.
Just like it sounds: Sneaker Pawn USA is a pawn shop for sneakers. Before you get grossed out by the idea of sticking someone else’s used sneaks on your feets, get a load of the selection: LeBrons, Kevin Durants, Shaq Attacks, Kobes, and so on. New stuff too. You can even get a loan based on your collection (and get this: the staff will come to your house for collections of 25 or more pairs). The back story’s pretty heart-warming as well: the Harlem store was founded by a teenager and his dad.