Famed for its glitzy hotels, sci-fi skyscrapers and luxury malls, Dubai’s globally renowned glossy aesthetic has provoked a rise in underground culture. With a myriad of homegrown streetwear shops and brands taking over the UAE—and with luxury brands like Balenciaga and Gucci embracing sneaker culture—it’s clear that the high/low mix is no longer a niche concept.
Among these new stores is General—Dubai’s favourite concept store—that sells clothes and accessories from international brands as well as regional up and coming designers like Precious Trust and Tania George.
Four years ago, 21 year-old Kazakh Amirlan Kurakov moved to Dubai and started working at General in 2017. Having grown up exclusively listening to American hip-hop, Kurakov is a self-proclaimed sneakerhead. “It was the Air Jordan Retro III Black Cement that was a silver-shining comet in the galaxy of sneaker culture”, he says, referring to what was he calls a pivotal moment in the history of the sneaker. “A lot of people became obsessed with them at this time”.
Kurakov is committed to spreading passion for street culture around Dubai, and even though the scene is still in its earliest element, Kurakov is enthusiastic about how things are evolving. “We have to be patient. You can’t force what must grow naturally”, he says before adding, “I don’t see any problem with people buying luxury street fashion if they want to be associated with some sort of group or culture. What would you do if you felt lonely and useless in society?”
But with new sneakers dropping every day, it’s almost impossible to navigate the best shoes to buy. That’s why we’re here to help – we’ve asked Kurakov to round up his five favourites.
Air Jordan I “Court Purple”
This pair is Rain from Mortal Kombat!
Skepta x Nike Air Max Deluxe SK
SK is such an important collaboration between the UK grime artist and Nike. It’s like Peter Pan’s fairy-tale on the feet. It’s a trophy for the culture. It shows how Grime is a serious sub-genre of hip-hop music. Scientists receive prizes and rappers are being rewarded with sneaker collaborations.
Undercover x Nike React Element 87 “Green Black”
React Element 87 is simply the best new silhouette released in 2018.
Nike Air VaporMax 95 “Neon”
I believe the Neon colourway of the 95s is the most important one. I adore how Nike masters the science of creating iconic shoes and then turns them into immortal legends. In fact, I’m a big fan of the futuristic Vapor technology. It’s like Chevy Impala 64 with anti-gravity wheels.
ACRONYM x Nike Air Presto Mid Racer “Pink Multi”
First of all, I treat sneakers as a form of art. The collaboration they did back in 2016 proved that it’s possible to do something really cool by twisting the retro traditional Nike silhouette. This is historical. When I look at them, I imagine myself wearing them in the universe of Deus Ex, being a cyborg and shooting from my right hand to fight the intergalactic injustice.