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SNEAKERS

Dubai now has ‘the best sneaker store in the world’

Words by Rob Chilton

Part streetwear shop, part art gallery, Presentedby is redefining retail

The Presentedby sneaker boutique in The Dubai Mall doesn’t have security guards patrolling outside like the jewellery and watch stores nearby, but maybe it should. Although the sneakers inside aren’t covered in diamonds (a pair of diamond-encrusted Air Jordans can’t be far away) they are some of the rarest and most sought-after pieces of streetwear in the world.

Level Shoes Lattice walls and light shows

Jordan x Dior, Supreme x Louis Vuitton and Nike x Off-White are just some of the limited-edition sneaker collaborations wrapped in protective plastic and carefully perched on lattice shelves in this dazzling store inside Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall that feels like stepping into an art gallery.

“With shoes of such rarity and expense, you want an environment to match it,” explains co-founder, Ridwane Ettoubi via Zoom from brand HQ in London. “To be brutally honest, most shops are boring and dull – you go in and just look at the product. At Presentedby, it’s almost like an exhibition. Even if you’re not into sneakers or streetwear, it’s captivating.”

Level Shoes Special edition sneakers

He adds matter-of-factly, “It’s the best sneaker store in the world, absolutely. In terms of the experience and product, I can’t think of another store in our market segment that can compete.”

The shop in The Dubai Mall is the first opening outside of London for Presentedby and was the obvious location for Ettoubi and his partners. “Dubai was such a natural fit for us,” he says. “It wasn’t, shall we do Dubai, it was when will we do Dubai. Eighty per cent of our customers come from the Gulf region. Dubai is a lifestyle everyone wants to work towards. We go to places where people will appreciate the rarity of our premium shoes and there are only a few cities in the world like that. In Dubai you have the fast cars, the watches, the seven star hotels, the restaurants... You want to be associated with that environment.”

Level Shoes Presentedby has stores in London and Dubai

Both the London and Dubai stores were fitted out by avant-garde architecture studio External Reference. The latticework that lines the walls of the UAE space is particularly striking. “We want customers to be wowed,” explains Ettoubi. “For Dubai, the store needed to be amazing. Think of the architecture, the lights and the glamour that’s associated with the city, we had to be on a par with that. We didn’t want a traditional shop, we wanted to stand out and create a journey of discovery. We wanted people to walk in and think, ‘I’ve never seen this before in retail.’ When people visit, we see their reaction and they enjoy it. It’s a talking point.”

Level Shoes Streetwear from Air Jordan x Dior

Such special surroundings at the premier Level Shoes store demand special sneakers. “It’s all about uniqueness, says Ettoubi. “The sneakers we stock are sold out at retail level, you can only get them on the secondary market, which is usually online. We’ve all heard the horror stories of missing boxes, or boxes being delivered with no shoes inside. We offer difficult-to-get products that you can’t walk into any store and buy. We have Louis Vuitton’s Supreme collection, Air Dior, Jordan 1s, Yeezys, Carhartt Jordans and also the Stratocaster Supreme guitar, and pinball machines worth £60,000. Seeing these rare items in magazines and online is fine but when they’re in your hand your appreciation for them changes.”

Level Shoes Presentedby at Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall

Before wrapping up the video call, EDGAR asks Ettoubi to show us his sneakers. He lifts his leg onto the boardroom table to reveal the iconic and lusted-after Nike Air Max 1 Atmos Elephant. “I wear them every other day,” he smiles.

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