We all know about the famous "Sneaker Street" here in Hong Kong. The official geographical location of the marketplace is Fa Yuen Street that runs from Argyle to Dundas Street in Mongkok. Mere steps away from the Mongkok train station. While this busy street is filled with sneaker and sportswear shops, there actually is nothing very impressive about it. It makes for great photos and video op for tourists, but most all the stores there are filled with off colouways of popular sneaker silhouettes that usually fill outlet store shelves here in Canada for discounted price, but for over our retail prices after conversion.
While this is still fascinating, you can most likely find a slew of videos on Youtube of everything you'd need to see about it. I'm actually here to report on the underground sneaker market in this area. Not underground because it is illegal, or shady. But because it is literally; under ground.
The first of these market centres I stumbled upon was at the Chow Tai Fook Centre on the corner of Nathan and Dundas Street. When you arrive, you will see what looks like an office building. An entrance with a directory board and reflective elevators that goes up to local businesses and offices. But upon further inspection, you will see a fairly discreet signage that reads "Trendy Zone" with an arrow that points you to the stairs that lead you underground. Very uniquely Asian.
Once there, you will see a series of very small boutique shops that sell mostly all heat worthy shoes and clothing brand. From store to store, you will see the current trends of the market. At the time of visit, I found multiple stores that carried Supreme x Jordan 5's with matching apparel, Yeezy Boost 350's, and multitudes of GR and QS Jordan Retros. I spoke to a few of the vendors at these shops just to shoot the shit, and they seem unsurprisingly knowledgable of the product, but not very familiar of the market prices outside of Hong Kong and Asia. Although you can find very desired sneakers there, the prices will make you think twice before making an actual purchase. For example, a DS pair of Moonrock 350 Boosts will set you back around $2000 CAD. Even though the prices are astronomical compared to our local market, I understand that the price of their rent and cost of living alone makes this very relevant in their intentions when setting these prices. Also factor in the fact that even with release numbers that may compare to ours, their demand is easily 10 folds to ours due to population alone. After a few walk arounds, I was very impressed with what they had in store and knowledge of their stock who clearly shares the same passion with any other sneaker heads around the world. Although what I saw would happily been a welcome piece to my collection, my consumer senses prevailed as I walked away empty handed.
Next, are another series of "hidden" shops that I also stumbled upon. In the busy shopping districts of Hong Kong, you will often see banner ads set up on sidewalks like a vinyl sail blowing in the toxic wind. As I walked up and down the streets of Mongkok, I've seen probably hundreds of these as I tried to walk at the pace of a marathon speed walker, trying not to get trampled, ignoring them. But for a second as I tried desperately to find a wifi signal, I saw one that caught my eye. A cartoon banner with the words "Kix Dream Come True" on it. Interesting. Upon further inspection, I noticed an address on it. At first, thinking it was a local ad for an event or a website, I shrugged it off. But since I was lost anyways, I thought I would check it out.
Mere steps away, I saw a bill post with the same name on it, directing me to go to the 12th floor. I approached a building that deceivingly resembled an office or residential building. After waiting for an elevator for a few minutes, I got in, waited for the 12th floor and exited. Once I stepped off, I was presented with a corridor much like one you would see in an apartment building. At one end, was "Kix Dream." Once inside, I was greeted by a few trendy young people who can't wait for me to look at everything and insisted that I tried on my size. Looking around, it seems the collection is much like the previous store I visited. All very expensive, and in pristine condition. The selection ranged from Adidas Shelltoes, to Reebok Instapump Fury's, to Retro Jordans. All shrink wrapped left shoes. The preferred way of displaying their stock in Hong Kong. Seeing that everything I would want there was not at the price I was willing to pay, I lost some interest. As I was leaving, I saw something that caught my eye. A "Nike SB" Christmas tree ornament ball. When I asked "how much?" I was given the shitty news that they were not for sale... by themselves. They explained to me that they are only sold as a set with the Nike SB "Dirty Christmas." As I said, very knowledgable. Once again, I walked away empty handed.
After walking around for hours, I was very happy to say that the sneaker culture here in Hong Kong is more prevalent than I had thought. The sneaker heads understand the game, and took it to a retail level not usually seen here. "Exclusivity" is the name of the game. Style rules all among young people, and what you wear determines your status here. If you get a chance, definitely check out what they have to offer. Just make sure to bring cash. Lots of it. As none of these stores take credit cards.