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The Churches of the Divine Sneaker

Some people buy kicks because they’re comfortable. Others amass them because they’re exquisite, rare, socially significant—and comfortable. Here, the best sneaker stores in town, for ardent collectors and casual walkers alike.


Dave's Quality Meat buyer Kyle Demers.  

158 Rivington St., nr. Clinton St. 212-375-8128
The paterfamilias of the city’s sneaker boutiques, Alife has been the model for many of the retailers on this page since it opened in 1999. The vibe is more uptown gentlemen’s club than Lower East Side shoe shop. Styles like the Jordan retro box sets and neon irak x Adidas RMX’s arriving this month are chicly displayed in cherrywood cubbies, with an Italian crystal chandelier and ostrich-skin wallpaper to enhance the rarefied vibe.
Best For: The Snob Collector

347 Fifth Ave., nr. Fourth St., Park Slope 718-369-7477
Philosophically akin to Alife in its focus on limited editions and exclusives, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of presenting a dandified street lifestyle, Premium Goods is minimally designed, with shoes stacked on a raised panel wall. Stylists flock here to load up on vintage pairs of Air Force 1’s, Creative Recreation, and Nike Air Huaraches.
Best For: The Low-key Yet Serious

359 Lafayette St., nr. Bond St.; 212-777-6102
What Christian Louboutin is to stiletto aficionados, Nort is to sneakerheads. The skater and hip-hop sets camp out for hours to get their hands on new releases, like a pair of suede mustard-colored Bobbito Air Force 1’s or black-and-burgundy velvet Nike Gent Packs. Raw brick, shiny aluminum racks, and leather seats make this one very sexy sneaker store.
Best For: The Sneaker Scholar

7 E. 3rd St., nr. Bowery 212-505-7551
Right now, the most innovative sneaker store in Manhattan, thanks to the exhaustive efforts of buyer Kyle Demers, who works the Las Vegas trade shows, scours the Internet for new designers, and lobbies Nike and Adidas for the most exclusive releases. This month, expect high-top eighties basketball and retro skateboard sneakers. The store is style masked as anti-style: Bags hang from meat hooks, tees marinate in a refrigerator, and kicks come home in brown paper bags that look like they’re holding a pound of brisket, not a pair of peacock-printed Nike Court Forces.
Best For: The Lover of Offbeat

3 Great Jones St., nr. Broadway 212-420-9955
This pint-size place isn’t just kicks; it’s also stuffed with old-school Cazal shades and colorfully tripped-out Evil Genius tees. If you’re deep in sneaker culture, the smallish selection might not impress. For the rest of the population, the Reeboks, Pumas by Alexander McQueen, and silver-and-python Y-3s are hip without being too much.
Best For: The Design Follower

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