“The moment Hedi Slimane sent white high-tops down the runway in his July 2004 Dior show was the moment trainers officially entered the luxury sphere,” says Chris Kyvetos, creative director of Sneakerboy, the Melbourne trainer emporium he co-founded in 2013.
Set on Little Bourke Street in the city’s financial district, the futuristic shop – designed by Australia’s acclaimed March Studio – takes its cue from the local metro system and Paris’s Grand Palais station. “We wanted to combine this very urban aesthetic with a Parisian sense of glamour,” explains Kyvetos – much like designer sneakers, perhaps, with their mix of “street” and style.
The result is a striking tunnel-like space with row upon row of glass shelves stocked with 400 to 500 designs, all dramatically lit and accompanied by LED signs detailing each make and model. As Sneakerboy doesn’t hold any stock on site (shoes are shipped from a central warehouse to anywhere in the world within three to five days), 77sq m of the store’s 80sq m expanse is devoted to dazzling product display. “We wanted this to be something more than a traditional retail environment,” says Kyvetos.
But what really singles Sneakerboy out is its unmatched inventory. There are limited editions – its latest, a Y-3 Qasa with knitwear details (A$485, about £246), sold out within minutes (a second batch is expected by March 31); collaborations with luxury labels such as Kris Van Assche (a take on the brand’s multilace sneaker, about £280); and pre-releases from Saint Laurent (black suede skate shoes with an engraved silver buckle, about £480).
Sneaker collectors and connoisseurs will delight in rarely seen models, including grey python Rick Owens high‑tops (about £1,475) and Buscemi’s black Swarovski high‑tops (about £1,315), while classicists may prefer Adidas’s iconic shell-toe Superstar (about £142) or retro Stan Smiths (about £250) reimagined by Raf Simons, which “evoke a sense of nostalgia”.
“Sneakers are the ultimate expression of identity and we have something for everyone,” says Kyvetos. “Plus, as we don’t follow the traditional fashion calendar, our collections are less seasonal.” As such, enduring styles like Maison Martin Margiela’s Replica sneakers (from about £260) – understated trainers that are spot-on “for men who don’t wear suits to work” – are always in stock.
Melbourne’s fashion faithful also flock to the store for its clothing and accessories – Versace’s nappa-leather backpack (about £1,520) with the brand’s signature gold medusa head, for example, or the Raf Simons x Sterling Ruby ready‑to-wear collection, which is stocked at only a few boutiques in the world.
There are high-tech touches at every turn: like Apple stores, there are no tills – customers pay on their phones or in-store iPads via a Sneakerboy app – and shoe size, style preference and payment history are all stored to ensure future purchases are slick and easy. “I wanted to provide a shopping experience that fits effortlessly with the digital age,” says Kyvetos. “In the end, buying trainers should be seamless – and fun.”