I’m sure most guys (and girls) have had someone from school that they knew or hung out with, but never really gave much thought to because they looked geeky and nerdy, and they weren’t really the ‘cool’ kind. You know the ones I’m talking about. And then you all graduated high school and found your own niche and went with that…until one day you see that person mentioned above, but in a new light. They have since lost their braces, lost weight and developed in areas where you never even thought existed. All of a sudden you start regretting and every ‘shoulda’ and ‘coulda’ goes through your head. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about...Malaysia has changed in more ways than one.
Well, I was lucky enough to be the guest of a very special store opening in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the weekend just past and even though I made my move to Australia 15 years ago, I have to say that I’m proud to be Malaysian. Thanks to movements like Streething in Malaysia and Sole Obsession in Singapore, the entire South East Asian region has been put on the international sneaker map.
SOLE WHAT? – the newest (and first) dedicated sneaker boutique to come out of Malaysia had its opening party on the 29th of September 2007, turned out to be a milestone in Malaysia’s ever growing sneaker scene. The brainchild of Edwin Choong (better known as MINI in the Streething forums), SOLE WHAT? is the product of many years of love for sneakers and the culture around it. Sick of losing out to neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Thailand, Edwin decided that it was time for Malaysia to have it’s own voice of reason. With support from all the major players in the sneaker game such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Asics and numerous other related labels, this store looks like its on the right path to becoming KL’s premier spot for heads.
When they said they were flying me to KL as a guest to the launch, I didn’t think much of it at first and to be honest, I was wondering why for a time. For me, it was an excuse to savour the food and do some shopping for the weekend. Little did I know how big a deal this was gonna be...
SOLE WHAT? is located in Mid Valley Gardens, adjoining Mid Valley Megamall which the statistics say is one of the biggest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. It’s so big that is has not one but two hotels in it. For those of you in Melbourne who think that Chadstone and Southland are big – you ain’t seen nothing yet. This mall is EXTREMELY massive. The amount of stores in this place is insane, and you can find everything you will ever need. From any kind of restaurant, café, cinema, supermarket and the list goes on.
The store had already been open for trade a few days prior and when I arrived on Saturday morning, it was trading as usual. The launch wasn’t until 6pm that evening and when I returned then, there was already about 70 or 80 people waiting outside. The doors were shut and inside, two television crews were already hard at work filming and doing interviews with those involved.
To give you an idea of how major this store opening was, every important person in the regions sneaker industry was present. Heads from Nike, Adidas and New Balance as well as head honchos from magazines like Juice and the Hits FM crew. What impressed me the most is that other shopkeepers of the like were also present. And not just local retailers, the owners of top sneaker stores such as Anthony & Kelvin from Leftfoot in Singapore and the Swiss boys from Preduce in Thailand were all in attendance to show their support and love. Also there were local street celebrities such as MC Altimet from the now defunct The Tarik Crew and DJ’s Bunga and Blink as well as one of KL’s finest street artists – Squirtgun, who incidentally did the two massive pieces next to the outside window displays.
By the time the party was opened to the public, there was literally hundreds of kids waiting outside impatiently to be part of it. Beer was flowing like water (something like 10 crates of Carlsberg) and there was also ‘finger’ food provided by KL’s infamous roadside burger stall, Ramly Burger. And it wouldn’t be a sneaker party if there wasn't giveaways on the night which included raffles and product tosses. Everyone that came through the door also walked out with a showbag with all sorts of knick knacks in it.
All shops in Malaysia trade from 10am till 10pm, so the party carried on for almost 5 hours, which is in anyone’s book, a damn long time to be drinking free beer!!! And waves of heads kept coming…not to mention all the curious shoppers who thought there was some sort of celebrity appearance because of the sheer amount of people in the store. Needless to say, when the mall kicked us all out at closing time, we managed to move the entire party to a club and carried on – but that’s another story!
It was really amazing to see how well everyone got along, especially those involved in all areas of the industry. The support and encouragement they give to one another is out of this world and I can see a bright future for sneaker heads in Malaysia and its surrounding regions. It’s so refreshing to see the big players showing that they actually have more passion than they are credited for in this so called game.
I would personally like to thank Edwin and his crew for making me feel like a special guest in my own home town, and also to the Streething (and Sole Obsession) crew for building the foundation for stuff like this to happen. Without you guys, the scene in Malaysia wouldn’t be as big and recognised around the world. You guys ROCK!!!
Credits go to Jam Master Jules for the ‘fisheyed’ pics.
More pics of the event can be viewed bye clicking here