Hong Kong: Shoe-Horned On Sneakers Street

SNEAKERS STREET HAS POSSIBLY THE GREATEST GATHERING OF SHOES ON THE PLANET. BUT DON’T EXPECT MUCH IF YOU’RE AT THE BIG-FOOTED END OF THE SPECTRUM. 

There’s an interesting thing about Hong Kong. If you look down at what people are wearing on their feet, invariably they’ll be wearing sneakers. Designer sneakers at that.

It’s probably not so surprising when you consider that around 87 per cent of shoes these days are made in Asia. And Hong Kong is home to arguably the world’s biggest gathering of shoes on the planet.

Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok, known affectionately as Sneakers Street, is a 180m stretch of shops selling every footwear brand imaginable, from Adidas and Dahood to Vans and Converse.

Despite what many people think, there are few if any fakes on Sneakers St. Most shoes here are the real deal and shop keepers rarely budge on price.

Screenshot at May 15 16-09-19

While this busy street is filled with a dazzling array of the latest designs and limited-editions, there’s actually nothing very impressive about it.

It’s packed with people, especially at night and on the weekends, when the Fa Yuen Street market is also in full swing. Several blocks of the street are closed down to traffic during the day and early evening, so you can wander safely.

Perhaps the best time to go is early afternoon – anytime from 1pm onwards when the shops are starting to open and the crowds are at their thinnest. Don’t even bother going before midday because nothing will be open.

For me, the real disappointment with Sneakers Street – like much of Hong Kong – is that the stores rarely stock large shoe sizes. Because I’m something of a big foot, I had zero luck finding an Australian size 10 or bigger (US11).

Screenshot at May 15 16-08-59

Many shop assistants knew they simply wouldn’t have a shoe to fit me, but they’d go through this time-consuming process of presenting me with shoes in the hope I’d somehow settle for a tighter fit.

So while I was parading in and out of stores with all these fantastic shoes before me, it soon became clear that I’d be leaving empty handed.

To be honest, Sneakers Street does not have the bargains it once did, particularly for Australian visitors who’ve seen the foreign exchange rate move in the wrong direction in recent times.

Ten years ago you could buy a pair of Adidas or Vans for about $60 Australian – and you’d walk away knowing you bagged a bargain. Today though, there’s minimal difference. 

For example, on a recent visit a pair of Vans at Sneakers Street cost around $100 Australian, which is pretty much on par with what you’d pay in any Australian store or online.

Sneakers St is still worth a look because there can be some dramatic markdowns and sales – just not always on the brand or style of shoe that you had your heart set on.

– Bernard O’Riordan

Screenshot at May 15 16-01-00

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