The vibe of London’s hip Shoreditch meets Dubai this weekend (November 18-19) as Sole DXB returns to the city’s most happening location; Dubai Design District (d3) for a two-day festival. The event, which is now in its sixth year, celebrates the Middle East’s urban style, music, culture and sport, and will have a specific focus on London this season, bringing British acts and brands to the UAE.
Expect to find international and local pop-up concept stores, exclusive collections from footwear brands, performances from international artists, speciality food and local sporting events.
‘A few years back, there was no platform connecting like-minded creatives who shared the same interests – so we started Sole DXB,’ says Hussain Moloobhoy, who, with Raj Malhotra, co-founded the event. ‘What began as a small event in Al Quoz now brings more than 11,000 people through the door over two days.’ The event has grown hugely since 2010 and now what was originally aimed at a very niche market has something for everyone.
‘Our underlying stories have shifted,’ says Hussain. ‘We’re focusing on London’s role in the hip-hop scene with big grime acts joining us this year. Our direction when it comes to art has been more towards urban contemporary. In areas like basketball, we’ve tried to elevate the experience for the players and the audience.’
So get your best sneakers on and be ready to shop and party as we reveal what to get excited about over the weekend.
Sole DXB began life as a festival to celebrate urban and sports footwear in the region, so while it has expanded from this, trainers are the fundamental essence of the event. ‘It wasn’t that long ago that if you were wearing trainers, you’d be automatically rejected from any door in your city,’ says Hussain. ‘That’s obviously changed. As the people who started this culture have grown older and moved up the ranks in their respective fields, streetwear has found a collective voice and has made its mark.’
This is highlighted by the huge turnout of sports brands participating. You’ll find pop-up stores from Puma, Nike, Reebok and Adidas revealing special-edition pieces that will instantly be available for Sole DXB-goers to buy, as well as UAE-based Level Shoes and smaller brands selling locally made styles.
‘As with any segment of the industry that finds success, you’ll have brands that are purely hopping on the bandwagon,’ says Hussain.
‘That’s unavoidable, but it also means that a lot of younger very talented people coming up the ranks are empowered to follow through with what they love.’
If shoes aren’t your thing, head to the Sole Ball Above All Classic basketball tournament, which returns for another year. The competition will take place with matches throughout the weekend and will feature 11 local basketball teams who will compete to take home the Dh10,000 prize. It’s sure to be an exciting schedule of events with some of the Middle East’s highly anticipated upcoming players taking part.
This year’s festival will bring a line-up of international hip-hop artists to the stage. Acts performing over the weekend will include urban UK musician Skepta, American singer-song writer BJ The Chicago Kid and a host of other rappers, DJs and singers such as Large Professor, who has produced music for Busta Rhymes, and rising star Little Simz. There will be a number of stages across the event featuring both local and international artists and DJs.
The music and partying will continue on into the night with the Sole DXB after party. Hussain is excited about the whole event, but lets slip a highlight he’s particularly looking forward to, ‘We’d be lying if we didn’t say we were excited about shutting the whole weekend down with Skepta,’ he says.
No Dubai day out is complete without an amazing selection of food. Food trucks and stalls on site include the Vida Food Truck, Shake Shack, Pinza and Mexican joint Taqado. Bull&Roo – the team behind Muchachas, Tom & Serg and Brunswick Sports Club – are launching their latest concept, Uncle Jheff. It’s Thai street food with dishes such as tamarind beef ribs and red curry rice salad on offer –with a side of that hipster Bull&Roo vibe, of course. The pop-up comes ahead of a permanent restaurant in Dubai next year.
Aside from the trainers, there will be plenty of other buys at the festival. Online fashion brand Namshi will have a pop-up shop showcasing some of its most popular designs from the site – you won’t even have to go online to buy them.
Sole DXB’s Early Retirement concept store will be selling clothing from international designers whose pieces are otherwise unavailable in the region.
Also returning this year is the popular Swap and Sale shop that will allow shoppers to bring their old sneakers and swap them with others. If you don’t have any old shoes to bring, there will also be a sale featuring rare and vintage styles.
The top pop-ups
This UAE-based footwear concept will be bringing a pop-up version of its store in The Dubai Mall, showcasing a curated range of exclusive and limited-edition designer sneaker collections, as well as a never-seen-in-Dubai Maison Margiela Paris retrospective. Sneaker cobbler Dominic ‘The Shoe Surgeon’ Chambrone will be making footwear on site.
Find collections including the Fenty Puma by Rihanna and partnerships with Careaux, Trapstar and UEG. Look out for the Puma Clyde x Sole SWAG (Dh620), a limited-edition sneaker making its Middle East debut. The retro-style shoe is inspired by basketball legend Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier. The area also has music events.
The brand will exhibit its premium Made collection. At the event, shoppers will also have the opportunity to customise their own pair of New Balance Classics.
Get your trainer game sorted now
Dh399, New Balance
Dh379, Nike Air
It’s on: Sole DXB is from November 18-19, and is free to enter if you register beforehand and arrive before 3pm, otherwise Dh100 on the door after 3pm. Go to soledxb.com