Contributed by Eddie Samad
Dubai, Dubai, Dubai. Not the first country that springs to mind whenever you think of streetwear and sneaker culture, but it’s 2017, Dubai’s stepped it up, and so should the rest of the world.
This year, Hugh and I made a trip to Dubai to check out SOLE DXB – the region’s premier streetwear and lifestyle event. Held annually, it is a melting pot of streetwear culture, music, art, sports, and high fashion all rolled up into a kaleidoscope of all things cool and fancy. It’s where hypebeasts go to die.
What started of as a gathering of like minded individuals passionate over streetwear has evolved into a regional powerhouse. The fact that it’s held in Dubai only magnifies the scale of the event and the style of execution. This ain’t your usual sneaker swap meet — think 13 to 15-year-olds flexing Off-White AJ1s and grown men rocking Visvims and Hender Schemes and you’ll get an idea on how high the standards are over here. I mean, they don’t call Dubai a rich man’s playground for nothing.
2016 was the first time I attended SOLE DXB and I was really blown away by it, and we weren’t just referring to the Arabian breeze. I went with zero expectations, told myself to just go and see what the fuss is all about. What I experienced there was a real eye opener. My entire weekend was on a completely different level compared to what we are used to back home.
Fast forward to this year, the bar was obviously raised higher with speakers like Jeff Staple, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Chicago Don C and a whole lot more gracing the event. For the music part, heavyweights like Pusha T, Anderson Paak, Teyana Taylor, Goldlink and a host of talent across the gulf region.
Day 1 was jam packed with speeches given by industry experts and pioneers. The 45-minute-long presentations given by each speaker were definitely worthwhile. Where else are you going to get a condensed version of Jeff Staple’s entire 25 year streetwear career in 45 minutes.
Day 2 made us lose our minds. One notable exhibit was Nike’s Maker’s Studio — an entire Nike experience spanned across three floors, basketball court included. You don’t have to imagine being able to full-on customize your very own pair of Air Force 1s, because at Dubai, it was reality for us. I got mine dip dyed, while others got to embroider, paint and customize to their own liking. Nothing quite like a pair of bespoke, one-of-none shoes.
Their second floor displayed the rarest and most valuable of Jordans. A few notable pairs in display included the AJ1 Top 3 Gold and AJ12 Public Schools. The third floor was where we got to witness Nike’s legacy with the NBA in all its glory — we got to see championship jerseys of the Golden State Warrior and the 2-feet-tall Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy, made especially by Tiffany & Co.
We also got a taste of high fashion at the Dior exhibit where we got to check out their menswear and womenswear offerings, on top of having a good time at their rooftop bar.
Streetwear culture comes full circle when we also got to experience more than the garments and shoes. The ‘Letters to Andy Warhol’ exhibition was definitely icing on the cake for us. The entire weekend experience came along with amazing performances that solidifies streetwear not only as a trend, but also a lifestyle that encapsulates fashion and music.
Overall, Hugh and I had a blast in Dubai. Good food and great company certainly made it better for us, and the future of Pestle & Mortar Clothing. We always thought it’d be really cool for us to broaden our horizons and meet up with more like-minded people in the streetwear industry, just as a cultural exchange and potentially put Malaysia on the global streetwear radar.