Times Square is where brands go to get excessive. For the past few decades, these couple of acres have been the site of an arms race between pretty much every retailer on the planet competing to have the biggest, most ostentatious presence in a place that packs more overwhelming stimulus per square inch than anywhere else in the entire country. The effect is surreal; at this point walking through Times Square feels like walking through a dreamworld version of a shopping mall where everything is scarily large and way more vividly illuminated than it is in the real world.
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Most of the time, it feels like a bad trip—but it does have its good points. Like the gargantuan Foot Locker that’s opening up there today.
Whether it’s in a mall or on a city street, the cozy confines of the standard-layout Foot Locker are like a home away from home for sneakerheads. The new Times Square location is more like coming home to discover that your parents have moved into an insane, hyper-futuristic mega-mansion. Sprawling over 17,000 square feet split into two stories, it’s essentially an entire department store dedicated to sneakers and streetwear.
The sensory overload starts in the lobby, decked out in massive video screens displaying a parade of classic kicks. Upstairs, the men’s department boasts three entire shop-in-shops—a Puma Lab, the second-ever Adidas Foundation location, and a 1,614 square-foot Foot Locker House of Hoops—as well as special presentations by Timberland, Converse, and New Balance (not to mention an assortment of New Era, Under Armour, Vans, Asics, and Stance products).
The space is both huge and well-curated. It’s hard to look anywhere in the store and not see something worth copping: Puma’s Clyde Frazier-inspired Legacy Collection for Black History Month, the best of Adidas’s current line of game-stealing NMDs, and enough Jordan Space Jam gear to satisfy even the most dedicated lover of ’90s nostalgia. Hell, even the selection of sneaker cleaning products is impressive.
The store is so surreally overwhelming that it almost made sense to end of our preview tour by sitting down in the corner of the House of Hoops given over to the Nike’s Kyrie Irving line to talk to Kyrie himself.
“It’s awesome,” he said of the store. “I went downstairs to the Nike Fly Zone and I’m seeing all these different Js, man. I’m like, if I saw all this when I was a kid, just lined up—AJ1 to the 12s to the 9s, to the Pennys to the Scottys—just everything that was exclusive. The culture’s just growing so much.
I admired the Kyrie 3s he had on, and he told me that the each model of his signature shoe represented a different phase of his life. The latest, he said, is “definitely down to business. Definitely very direct. What you see is what you get.”
I asked him what he usually rocked when he wasn’t wearing his own shoes. “Js,” he replied without hesitating. “Them Js, man. I’ve become more of a sneakerhead now that I’m older than I was before. Before I’d take all my Jordans and my sister would get so mad at me because I’d play outside in some Air Jordan 7s or 8s and just ruin them. Now I’m seeing it and I’m appreciating it more.”