Sartorially speaking, the United Kingdom is famed for many things. There’s the bespoke tailoring of Savile Row, the age-old shoemaking traditions of Northamptonshire and even the kilts and country attire of the Scottish Highlands. Less well documented, however, is the UK’s long-running love affair with sports footwear. And, as a result, the resulting bountiful selection of world-class sneaker stores.
Wherever you find yourself in the United Kingdom, rest assured a top-tier sneaker outlet is only a stone’s throw away. From concept boutiques to grail-packed consignment shops, here are some of the very best.
The Other Side Of The Pillow – London
Good news for sneaker fans keen to get a look at the world’s largest collection of rare and vintage Vans skate shoes: there’s no need to travel all the way to the beautiful, sun-kissed shores of Southern California, the brand’s natural home. Instead, you can simply hop on the tube to Clapton. Perhaps not quite as glamorous, but certainly cheaper.
This vibrantly decorated boutique is one of the UK’s true hidden gems. Boasting a lively selection of weird and wonderful Vans sneakers from through the ages, it’s a haven for sneakerheads, skate-culture vultures and pretty much anyone with even a passing interest in footwear.
161b Lower Clapton Rd, Clapton, London, E5 8EQ
END – Newcastle Upon Tyne
Since setting up shop in 2005, END has gone from a small, boutique menswear space, nestled down a Newcastle back alley, to the most dominant retail force in luxury menswear. Known for its unrivalled mix of high-end designer clothing, cutting-edge streetwear and vast selection of sneakers, END has not only taken the online world by storm, but now also boasts three physical locations across the UK.
There’s a store in Glasgow and a glistening new flagship in London’s Soho district, but it’s always going to be the Newcastle branch that serves as END’s spiritual home. Pop in for the latest limited-edition sneaker drops, as well as mainstays from the likes of Nike, Adidas, Converse, Common Projects and beyond.
133-137 Grainger St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5AE
5 Pointz – Bristol
Widely regarded as one of the coolest cities in Great Britain, Bristol’s streets are bristling with music, arts, great food and, of course, sneakers.
Keeping the town’s sneakerheads happy since 2004, 5 Pointz is a store with its roots in hip-hop and street culture. It’s Bristol’s go-to spot for limited releases, so don’t be surprised to find queues forming down the street on a drop day. And, if the generous selection of footwear isn’t enough to scratch that shopping itch, check out the apparel selection, too. Expect to find brands like Carhartt WiP, Manastash and Norse Projects, among many others.
18 Nelson St, Bristol, BS1 2LE
Footpatrol – London
Europe has its fair share of top-drawer trainer outlets, but London’s Footpatrol (featured image, top) is often heralded as one of the finest. Freshly decked out with a slick new interior, the Berwick Street sneaker store houses world-class silhouettes from the likes of NikeLab, New Balance and Air Jordan. Stock is presented against a minimalist backdrop of grey walls, giant mirrors and artistically arranged shelving.
The space is nestled among some of the city’s coolest eateries and record stores, too. So, after you’ve picked up your shoes, be sure to grab a bite to eat and indulge in a spot of crate digging in the surrounding Soho streets.
80 Berwick St, Soho, London, W1F 8TU
Hanon – Aberdeen
Aberdeen perhaps isn’t the most likely location for a bustling, international sneaker-culture hub. A weather-beaten city on Scotland’s northeast coast, it’s a far stretch from the palm tree-lined boulevards of LA. Nevertheless, it’s where you’ll find Hanon, one of the world’s most reputable sneaker hotspots.
From humble beginnings selling kicks from their parents’ living room, brothers Brian and Edward Toft grew Hanon into something remarkable. Today it’s Scotland’s go-to spot for hard-to-find sneakers and trailblazing streetwear. The store is no stranger to an in-house collab either, so look out for hookups with the likes of Reebok, New Balance, Adidas and all the other big hitters.
49-51 The Green, Aberdeen, AB11 6NY
Sneakers ER – Glasgow
Glasgow’s Sneakers ER isn’t a sneaker store in the traditional sense of the term. It’s more like Apple’s Genius Bar, but for your shoes. Set up by two of the city’s most active trainer enthusiasts, Sneakers ER provides expert care, cleaning and restoration for your beloved kicks. Led by famed footwear restorer Glasgowbob, the store’s Sneaker Laundry is the largest setup of its kind anywhere in the world.
In addition to the in-house service, there’s also a vast selection of sneaker care products on sale to help preserve your shoes at home. Oh, and don’t forget to nip for a coffee at the SNKR Cafe – you can grab a drink while you wait for the staff to bring your battered kicks back to life.
73-77 Trongate, Glasgow, G1 5HB
KershKicks – Manchester
Situated in Manchester’s creative hub, the Northern Quarter, KershKicks is the latest addition to the UK’s sneaker scene. Founded by brothers Sam and Ben Kersh, the store works on a buy-sell-trade model and stocks some of the most sought-after trainers in the world.
Prices range from £50 to well over £2,000 and labels stocked include all the usual sneakerhead favourites as well as hyped brand collabs. The trading and selling aspect means that stock is always changing, so you can never be sure what you’ll find when you step through the doors.
Kersh Kicks 36/40 Edge St, Manchester, M4 1HN
Transalpino – Liverpool
As the spiritual home of terrace fashion, Liverpool is a city with a very distinctive sense of style. Outdoor brands, Italian sportswear and high-end denim have always been Scouse cornerstones, but rare Adidas trainers will always be top.
The city has a long-running history in importing hard-to-find Three Stripes kicks. In the casual-culture heyday the go-to store was Wade Smith, but today it’s Transalpino that boasts the most comprehensive collection. The owners make frequent trips to South America, Europe, the USA and beyond in search of Adidas archive sneakers. But these aren’t any old battered, second-hand shoes. Each and every pair is deadstock, meaning they’re box-fresh and unworn. If you’re on the hunt for something truly unique, this is the store for you.
80 Bold St, Liverpool, L1 4HR