Finding the perfect pair of sneakers isn’t easy in New York. The landscape is booming with legendary mom-and-pop shops, big corporate boutiques, new launches every weekend. It can be hard to keep up with the changing times.
Whether you’re looking for a pair of bespoke custom kicks or the most extra buttery grails, we’re taking you on a trip through one of the largest, most well-respected sneaker cultures in the world.
Join us as we travel from Crown Heights to the Upper West Side in search of the best sneaker shops in NYC and the gems they hide behind closed doors.
Extra Butter LES
The team at Extra Butter are movie-buffs, classic sneakerheads, and downright innovative dudes amongst sneaker culture. They started off on Long Island until 2013 when the ASICS x Kill Bill shoes hit the scene. From there, the young, buttery dudes expanded into their LES location only thirty minutes away.
For early 2000’s sneaker connoisseurs, Extra Butter LES is your best spot for kicks like ASICS, Reeboks, New Balance, Pumas, and more.
They’re authentic in respect to sneaker culture compared to the massive streetwear kingpins in the city. They don’t run with the trends or hottest releases, just offer some classic sneakers with exclusive collabs you won’t find elsewhere in NYC.
If you are looking for any rare sneaker while you’re in New York, head over to Flight Club. It’s arguably the most famous sneaker consignment shop in the world and the moment you walk through the door you’ll understand why.
They sell nearly 10,000 pairs of every sneaker brand imaginable in your brain. Yeezys, retro Jordans, Nikes, Reeboks, Vans, Saucony…the list goes on. Every sneaker is “new” or “almost new” and wrapped in plastic for freshness. Take an hour…or two, out of your day to ponder amongst the rarest shoes in the city.
For starters, 21M NikeLab is not NikeTown, nor anything of the average retailer you’ll find elsewhere in the city. Don’t expect Foot Locker-type sales associates pestering you to buy a shoe, or asking if you need help. Customer service here is non-existent, but the shoes are worth the trip when shopping in SoHo.
It’s a conceptual store with exclusive shoes you can’t find anywhere else. They sport a small collection of high-end collab sneakers, host wildly popular launch events, and offer a one-on-one studio where you can design your own pair of Nikes with a house designer by reservation.
Sneaker label Buscemi are notorious for their extravagant sneaker offerings so it was only fitting that they’d eventually open the doors to their Soho flagship store in New York’s creative precinct. The polished showroom provides the perfect space to present the brand’s luxe offerings as well as doubling as an art gallery with seasonal artist collaborations on display. Be prepared to drop a pretty penny if you’re going to shop here as it’s all about excess and design in the name of standing out. Want proof? The first gallery installation was Buscemi’s 100mm sneaker decked out in 18k gold detailing and diamond-studded closures worth a grand total of $132,000…for a sneaker.
New York is home to the best, most stuffy and pretentious sneaker shops around. So it’s nice when you come across spots like WestNYC who have a delightful staff with the sneakers to match. West is a local favourite for Upper West Side folk because it’s the only shop in the area that gets Tier 0 releases.
It’s small, boutique style shop carries east and west coast streetwear, including brands like Supreme and Crooks & Castles. With all your classic streetwear brands, a few low-key gems, and of course, Danner and Vasque boots for good measure.
Envision a shoe store where there’s no ice cream. Not one tourist updating their IG feeds. No hypebeast correspondents for blocks away. Where black leather Frye’s, John Fluevog wingtip lace ups, and Brand Black tennis shoes gracefully adorn the walls around you.
Yes, it exists in NYC’s landscape. And it’s nestled in Cobble Hill awaiting your feet. Thank you Soula, for being classy, cosy, and selling sneakers that are equally as comfortable as they are cool.
Susan Boyle, the woman behind Rime, brings 30 years of buying experience to her carefully curated Brooklyn sneaker shop. After working for NYC sneaker giant Michael K, she went out to open up her own shop in ’07 which expanded into two locations – Brooklyn and the Upper East Side.
There’s a massive amount of unique sneakers to choose from, all packed into the small sales floor and a low-key back room. She’s cool, she’s sweet. She’s Susan B…and she owns one of the best sneaker shops in NYC.
Gene Han and his family have been running the speaker landscape in Brooklyn since the late 80’s. It’s become the go-to spot for sneaker connoisseurs over the years, and Alumni is the new face of this neighbourhood staple.
They feature up and coming brands like Publish and ICNY, but more importantly, have one of the most creative displays for their kicks. Curiously meander through the closed cabinets surrounding their in-style shoes to find some serious gems like Karhu Synchron Classics, Nike Air Max 97’s, Reebok Instapump Fury’s and more.
Both KITH locations are instaworthy shoe havens for those looking for the best sneaker shops in NYC. Each fit out is different but similar in some ways. The ceiling is made up of rows of beaming white plaster sneakers.
They’re clean, minimalist and look like they came out of the Hypebeast Handbook. Regardless, they have some seriously cool shoes, display installations, and a snack bar where you can order cereal and treats.
Unnecessary? Yes. Do you want the latest trends for sneakers? Yes. Either KITH Manhattan and Brooklyn (or Miami) will get you both and is definitely one of the best sneaker shops in NYC.
Alife Rivington Club
Blink once and you’ll miss the tawdry welcoming of Alife Rivington Club in LES. If you manage you find the discrete entrance, hit the buzzer and wait until you’re granted access to the shop.
You’ll find yourself planted in an old world looking English cigar room. Fit with wood panel, a reception area, and individually lit sneaker displays – imagine the Kingsman’s closet if they wore too many Nikes.
While Alife as a streetwear brand fell off after their expansion into clothing stores and LA, the flagship in NYC offers some seriously hard to find kicks and past collabs exclusive to the shop.
Alfie Rivington Club