Can you smell the weed? The belief that San Francisco’s romantic hippie outpost Haight-Ashbury is always covered in a cloud of this specific substance is obviously cliché. Of course there is weed but there is even more nostalgia around: Some of it due to tourists like us, who try to catch a glimpse of the days gone by when Haight-Ashbury was the epicenter of love, peace and – you got it – weed. But as Dylan said, the times they are a changin’ and a during the last two decades a different type crowd has moved to San Francisco. Many of these folks work for tech companies and start-ups in the Silicon Valley. They are part of the new generation, whose parents probably once joined the flower power movement or came from outside the US. Many of the younger residents (and some of the older too) are not into politics – even though they feel pretty embarrassed by Trump and his actions. They like buying, collecting and wearing sneakers. You might call them sneakerheads if you wish.
For all these people, the doors to a new “church“ opened on Super Bowl weekend of 2016: On Haight Street, where the heart of a liberal America beats, you’ll find Nice Kicks. Born and raised in Austin the guys came to the West Coast last year with an ambitious agenda and their impressive, two level store conveys the impression that they had big things in mind. Along with the opening Nice Kicks launched their NMD collab as part of the adidas Consortium world tour. This modern classic with its black-red tie-dye pattern pays homage to Haight Ashburys flower-power heritage. While the NMD hype seems to be fading a bit, you still have to pay 1k or more for these beauties. The good news: Looking at of the artwork comes at no charge. You’ll notice a big mural and other memorabilia from the release throughout the store.
Frankly speaking we were quite impressed (and surprised) by the size and the selection of the San Francisco store. Perhaps we just expected a normal sneaker boutique. Behind a glass door you’ll find selected premium releases and apparel from designers like Alexander Wang and Raf Simons and other collabs like the latest TGWO City Sock. They call this room „The Mint“. In the back they have more shoes and clothes also for the female sneakerhead. Take for example the Puma x Fenty drops or the popular Iniki by adidas. Right next to the entrance a long wall of Nike and Jordan shoes will please all swoosh lovers. But there’s another design element that will certainly grab your attention upon entering the store: The golden Jordans in plexiglass boxes suspended from the ceiling remind us a little bit of Kith’s sneaker installation. It’s nevertheless an eye catcher, hands down!
„Take it to another level“ – in this case you can take the red neon sign literally. The upper floor is home to more fine footwear and apparel. If running/lifestyle shoes from Asics or Saucony are y our thing or if you prefer oldschool styles from Puma and Vans, in either case their selection won’t disappoint. Ok that’s an understatement! Nice Kicks usually receives all limited drops and many of the latest (general) releases. Their claim „We are Sneakers“ might sound like a catchy promise. Yes, it is for sure, but we saw with our own eyes that those guys do what they do with real passion and knowledge. Treating your customers right is one thing, but leaving your own footprints in the game is something different. Nice Kicks has achieved both. If you spend some days in beautiful San Francisco (a Sneaker City Guide will follow asap), make sure to come around and buy some nice kicks on Haight.