What Sneakersnstuff’s New Bar Means for Sneakerhead Culture

Sneakerheads are no strangers to camping out in lines. But in New York City, they’re now queuing up for something other than a new shoe drop—though it’s not that far removed.

Basked in a purple glow from the neon sign above the front doors, downtown cool kids eagerly handed their IDs to bouncers and assured the door person they were on the list. It wasthe grand opening of SNS Bar, a nightlife hot spot made for hypebeasts. And they hadn’t been this excited since, well, their last pair of Jordans.

The new bar and lounge, which held this debut bash in May, is owned by Sneakersnstuff, the Swedish sneaker retailer that has developed a cult following around the world. Founded by Erik Fagerlind and Peter Jansson in 1999, the company preceded the sneakerhead boom, earning an early reputation for curating the coolest kicks for collectors and fashionistas alike. But, says Fagerlind, they “love to do a little bit more than expected.” Which is why they’re now trying their hand at hospitality.

Outfitted in plush purples, brass and gold, with Scandinavian design elements linking back to the company’s roots, the subterranean destination is  located beneath Sneakersnstuff’s Meatpacking District store, the brand’s very first U.S. outpost that opened in 2017.

Much like Sneakersnstuff’s concept shops, which dot the globe from Stockholm to Paris to Los Angeles, SNS Bar is an experience. Underground sound makers and headliner DJs come together on any given weekday, while revelers sip “shitty drinks made great,” the bar’s cheeky nod to classic downtown culture and a promise that things are just a bit more refined here. There are gold toilets in the bathroom, and like any respectable Meatpacking District establishment, a magnum of Dom Pérignon can be ordered to one’s table for a cool $1,420.

But besides making its mark as a fun place to party in NYC, SNS Bar seems to embody a shift in sneakerhead culture. The niche market once reserved for avid insiders is going more mainstream than ever and, dare we say, quite literally opening its doors to newcomers. At its heart, however, the spot serves as a clubhouse of sorts, where those in the know can gather and show off their goods in action, outside of an internet forum like eBay or Instagram. Much like those parking-lot gatherings for collectors of souped-up cars, sneaker-centric watering holes might be able to bring the scene together, giving new meaning to the term “kickin’ it.”

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