According to Colin Firth, ‘Manners maketh man’. But shoes also maketh man, especially in Melbourne, where foot fashion is taken pretty seriously.
Used to be that ‘sneakers’ meant a beaten-up pair of Dunlop Volleys (still the comfiest shoe ever designed by science), but these days if you’re not rocking the latest Adidas, Nike or Common Projects, you may as well take yourself out of the gene pool, dry off, and go get some hot chips with vinegar. You’re done.
Don’t know your Yeezy from your Onitsuka Tiger? No worries. There are stores for that sort of thing. Here’s where to get your kicks in Melbourne.
Sneakerboy’s Chadstone concept store, home to the DSX (‘distressed stock exchange’). What’s that? Kind of like a bricks-and-mortar eBay for sneakers. It’s an in-store marketplace where you can trade, sell or swap your trainers.
Of course, if you’re looking for cutting-edge, Sneakerboy also has an encyclopaedic range of sneakers. Brands like Valentino, Dior, Celine and Balenciaga, plus limited-edition stock from Nike and Adidas, among others. Find a pair you like, place an order, and the Sneakerboy guys will have the shoes delivered straight to your door. Nifty.
Probably Melbourne’s most iconic streetwear retailer. Not surprising it stocks an insane range of top-of-the-line sneakers (600+ styles at last count). Everything from Adidas and Jordan to Timberland and Vans hi-tops.
You know your store is on-point when it’s the go-to for visiting musical heavyweights like A$AP Rocky, Snoop Dogg, Tyga, and Tyler The Creator. If you want the full Culture Kings experience, drop into the Queen St store for a shave at their in-store barber.
Secret Sneaker Store
A secret sneaker reseller, tucked into the second level of Melbourne Central? Yep, it does exist. Secret Sneaker Store (or SSS as it’s known) specialises in authentic pre-loved sneakers.
Run by sneakerheads for sneakerheads, they personally vet and check every pair that comes through the door: the label, the quality, the box, even the smell. They test it all. Check their website for a list of ‘new drops’, updated daily.
Emporium has a bunch of good streetwear stores (if you’re trying to build the collection, start on the basement level, and just work your way steadily up to the food court).
Capsule is one of the best: a curated little concept store, specialising in a blend of dapper and dangerous. One-half gentleman, the other half sneakerhead. Check them out for Brandblack Force Vectors, Adidas Tubular Doom or limited edition stock like Saucony x Premier Grid 9000.
Sydney Rd’s go-to for sneakers and streetwear apparel. Concrete Jungle spruiks itself as your friendly neighbourhood sneaker store, a place where you can come and suss the latest Puma Tsugi Blaze or Adidas originals, chat sneakers with the lovely staff, or just pick up a fresh can of Crep Protect.
The range rotates regularly, but there’s always a solid mix of Converse, Adidas, Saucony and Vans, plus epic collabs like Pharrel Williams X Adidas or Mita X Le Coq Sportif. Pro tip: watch their sale page like a hawk.
Authentic footwear, cobbled by artisans in remote monasteries deep in the Italian Alps. Well, not quite.
That Alps stuff is BS, but these really are some of the highest quality Italian shoes in the CBD. 124 Shoes stocks a bunch of brands you probably haven’t heard of (BB Washed, Buttero, Primabase, Marsell), imported from Italy and handcrafted by third-generation shoemakers. The quality is high (the price tag is a little alpine too...), but if you treat them well they’ll last years. Our tip? The Conflict For Interest trainers in washed nappa leather. Belissimo.
One of Melbourne’s OG sneaker stores. This Barkly St sneaker temple first opened its doors back in 1997, and it's been going strong ever since. You’ll notice the range as soon as you walk in. Fred Perry, Onitsuka Tiger, Nike, Asics, Adidas—they’re all here.
The nice thing about Prime is the gender balance: a lot of sneaker stores tend towards male-biased, but Prime stocks an excellent range of Asics and Adidas womenswear. Keep an eye on their new arrivals too, including a snazzy range of Fred Perry fashion.
Up There Store
You probably won’t stumble on Up There Store. It’s tucked up some narrow, rickety stairs on McKillop St, floating high above the CBD.
One of the city’s true retail gems, packed edge to edge with Yuketen loafers from the US, Hancock raincoats from Scotland, and a truly epic sneaker collection. Pick up the latest edition of Sneaker Freaker and browse the racks for the latest collabs from Nike, Adidas, Norse Project, Aprix, Christian Kimber and McGuffin & Purpose.
They’re not always on the cutting edge of street style, but chances are good you’ll find something to make your credit card itch. Hype stocks a solid range of styles from Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Converse, Nike SB, Lacoste, Asics, Reebok, Puma, Shubar, Onitsuka Tiger, Supra and Converse.
The Sure Store
The Sure Store describes itself as “Melbourne’s home of the good stuff”, which is pretty accurate. It’s a stone’s throw from the Town Hall and stocks a solid mix of new releases, classic streetwear, boutique sneakers.
Think HUF’s classic low, Adidas X-PLR or retro stock like the iconic Air Jordan 8 in Cool Grey. There’s always a few back-issues of Sneaker Freaker too if you’re looking for sneaker-related reading material. Special shoutout to the logo socks from 40s & Shorties. They look smashing with any hi-top.
A bit of a Fitzroy institution, you’ll find this place on the corner of Brunswick and Moor St. Doomsday isn’t your typical ‘retail shop’, in fact they kind of hate that term. It’s a neighbourhood hangout, stocked with “things we dig”.
Usually, that includes off-beat brands like A.Four Labs, BEINGHUNTED, Bootleg Is Better and Civilist. They’ve got a great community bent too, which is why you might catch a local art exhibition or book launch, plus independent zines like The New Order and Zug Magazine.
One for either birthday or payday. Harrolds is an upmarket CBD boutique that stocks some of the most exclusive shoe brands going around. Think names like John Lobb, Giuseppe Zanotti, Comme Des Garcons, Rick Owens.
The new Collins St store is gorgeous (check out the Tom Ford collection while you’re there), but the prices are on the steep side. Probably the place you’ll shop when your garage hip-hop band hits the big time and scores a Hollywood bio pic (working title: Straight Outta Frankston).
You might have heard of these guys before. Sole Finess have been killing the sneaker game online for over two years, and now they’ve given us a sweet space to shop a refined but comprehensive range of kicks.
The first store of its kind in Melbourne, Sole Finess aims to drive the evolution of women’s sneaker culture in Australia, and we’re on board. Nike, Adidas, Vans and Converse are some of the labels you can expect to see on the reg. And as the sign out front says, this place is 100% "for the honeys".
Everything about Armadale is premium, so when you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Dough Store opened up on High Street.
And while your regular High Street Armadale shopping odyssey would have your fashion and brunch needs satisfied, you can now add exclusive sneakers, street-wear and accessories to the mix. At Dough you can expect to get your hands on rare collabs that you would usually only see on Instagram. But, you better get in quick, these shoes move fast.
Want to step up your style game? We found Melbourne's best secret fashion finds.
Image credit: Nike