The World’s Greatest Vintage Sneaker Stores
Nothing beats digging through piles and piles of shoes! Some of the best footwear finds are hidden away the usual high street retailers, located in the seductive crevices of vintage stores.
While many brick-and-mortars are taking a little break around the world, definitely add these locations to your list in preparation for the big dig. Just promise to keep them a secret, okay?
the other side of the pillow by pillowHeat
Stepping into the other side of the pillow by pillowHeat on the top floor of Vans’ Carnaby store in London is like entering a time capsule. The vintage plimsoll specialist focuses on pre-1998 Vans made in America, dating all the way back to the earliest SoCal examples from ’66! Australian expat Henry Davies scours the globe for the finest examples of golden-era waffle soles, and constantly refreshes the inventory.
It’s not often an unofficial operation gets formally recognised by a big name brand, so it’s pretty rad that Vans noticed this diehard collector’s plight.
Even if you’re not looking to walk away with a pair of crusty creps, it’s worth checking out the living history on display at the pillowHeat gallery residence-slash-shop.
47 Carnaby St, Soho, London W1F 9PT, United Kingdom
Shimokitazawa is a district to the west of Tokyo that has a rather suburban feel compared to the high-paced density of neighbouring Shibuya and Shinjuku. There are plenty of small second-hand stores scattered throughout this ‘Old Tokyo’ relic, but hidden up a set of stairs and behind an opaque door is SOMA. Look forward to gems like 1970s Japanese Nike runners, OG 1980s basketball shoes, European-made adidas and PUMA, and Converse Chuck Taylors reading ‘MADE IN USA’.
Refer to their Instagram page to view all the latest arrivals, but pop in – assuming you find the place – to properly witness the wall-to-wall greatness that is on display.
Japan, 〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−33−6 飯嶋ビル202
Paul’s Boutique Berlin
Not to be confused with the Beastie Boys’ album of the same name, Paul’s Boutique is a Berlin institution. Having been in business since 2000, they know a thing or two about the vintage game. The OG Oderberger Straße 47 location is mecca for foot-first fiends. The sneaker-crammed wall is likely full of nuggets that haven’t been discovered for 20 years! Enterprising vintage hunters can check out a selection of new arrivals on the Instagram page, but it’s best to drop in and spend a few hours digging. Who knows what could be hidden in those shelves?
Oderberger Str. 47, 10435 Berlin, Germany
Jojo’s General Store by Rag Parade
Don’t be fooled by the fresh-faced and curly-haired appearance of Joseph ‘Jojo’ Elgarice, the man behind Sheffield’s finest vintage store. At a spritely 28 years old, Jojo has amassed an inventory many times older than himself, thanks to a very sharp eye for detail. There's a range of Victorian-era menswear to more ‘contemporary’ 90s sportswear and streetwear, but some proper old-school sneaker heat lands on the shelves at Jojo’s General Store, too.
Expect the usual suspects: nylon Nike runners and leather basketball shoes, suede adidas terrace shoes, and even some baller Mephistos! Be sure to grab a Stone Island or C.P. Company jacket to match.
553 Ecclesall Rd, Sharrow, Sheffield S11 8PR, United Kingdom
The quiet suburb of Mataderos in Bueno Aires, Argentina, seems an unlikely place to house a treasure trove of vintage deadstock adidas - but it’s true. Carlos Ruiz has been running Ruiz Deportes since 1980, and there’s stock in there that’s probably been there since opening day! The Argentinian financial crisis during the early 2000s resulted in local manufacturer Gatic losing their license to manufacture adidas products. But Ruiz stuck to his roots, buying up deadstock from other sports stores that went under. Ironically, he is believed to be protective of his stock, so you might have trouble buying!
Ruiz was highlighted in a 2014 mini-documentary that saw adidas SPEZIAL head Gary Aspden and a handful of hardcore Three Stripes collectors make the trip. Will you? As of February this year, Carlos was still manning the shop, so make the pilgrimage while you still can.
Av. Emilio Castro 7312, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Like hunting for records, books, furniture, or just about any old collectibles, it’s always worth checking in regularly and striking up rapport with the owners and staff of vintage stores. You never know what you might find!