Even though Dubai has been a hot spot lately for rich rappers to shoot their lavish music videos, you really wouldn’t think of this city being a mecca for street culture. But that’s where you’d be mistaken. Sole DXB is a diverse platform for people from all over the world to explore their love for Hip-Hop, sneakers, and art culture. It’s an annual affair, and every year, the organizers select a new, engaging theme to focus on. And of yes, there always have a slammin’ selection of music acts and fashion brands to capture the imagination. Learn more about Sole DXB in our exclusive feature below…

What is Sole DXB, when did it first launch, and who are the principals/founders behind it? 

Sole DXB started in September 2010, the brain child of common friends with shared passions for hip-hop, sneakers and art culture. A one-off film screening for 200 family and friends turned into a 1000 people party spilling out onto the streets – and the rest as they say is history. As partners, we are all Third Culture kids that wanted to build a platform for creators in this city and build a space for those that others didn’t cater to.

People wouldn’t think of Dubai being a nexus of street culture – can you explain the current Hip-Hop/Street Fashion scene in Dubai? 

Dubai has often been called an unlikely candidate for what we do.  We suppose any city, seems unlikely until someone in it makes the effort to build something.  Are there challenges to putting on an event like this? Yes. But this is still a city that believes in big ideas.  What the scene here has had going for it is that there is a genuine lack of cynicism.  People aren’t walking in to Sole, looking for things to hate on.  They’re bringing good energy and there’s genuine excitement, that collectively, we’re experiencing the beginning of something.  There’s been an expectation that we are simply appropriating American Hip Hop and contemporary fashion, but our international guests would be the first to tell you that they’ve been surprised to find that Dubai has it’s own language and flavor to the culture.  Also, with Sole growing to the scale we are at, emerging creators are more likely to take risks knowing someone has their back.

What is so different about the upcoming Sole DXB event in December; what is different, and what is new and exciting? 

Every year, we try and tell a different narrative.  In 2015, we looked at early 80s New York and the rise of Hip Hop with the likes of Mobb Deep, Lisa Leone, Darryl McDaniels, and Stretch and Bobbito.  Last year, we focussed on how that movement crossed the Atlantic and the rise of Grime, with Skepta, Stormzy, Little Simz. This year, Sole is looking East.  We think Dubai can learn a lot from the lessons of Japan.  Since the end of World War II, Japan was seen as an imitator of American culture in everything from manufacturing to fashion.  Today, it’s peerless in everything it touches.  While the essence of Americana is still there, Japanese fashion has vaulted past its contemporaries, and in our opinion is always a generation ahead of other major cities. So we are bringing out people like Hiroshi Fujiwara, who were not only there at the beginning of it, but also were catalysts for it.  Then we have brands like Visvim, Wacko Maria, Neighborhood and Undercover showcasing their wares. The music program is second to none with Kano, Pusha T, Goldlink, IAMDDB, Serious Klein, Stretch Armstrong, Serious Klein, and so many more participating. We’ll also be offering an exclusive international screening of (yet to be shown) Word is Bond, a Mass Appeal produced documentary.

What are some of the noteworthy sneaker brands that will be showcased at the upcoming DXB event? 

A lot of highly sought-after brands will show and retail never-before-seen wares across the weekend, each individually housed in bespoke retail units (all taking design cues from the finesse of Tokyo architecture). We have your global staples like Asics, Nike, Reebok and Vans, and then there’s a brand-new luxury element – reflecting this changing global ‘streetwear’ market – so we are working with Dior Homme and Kenzo for example. Then you have that Japanese element – Neighborhood, Visvim, Wacko Maria. Add to that some bold brand with real cult clout like Staple and Les Benjamins. It’s a pretty mad spread, and we know for a fact the product that these brands show is without comparison. Everyone brings the heat to Sole DXB.

Lastly, what can we expect from the expansion and continuous evolution of Sole DXB for the coming years? 

We will continue to set the bar higher for ourselves…and if we stop doing that, we hope our supporters will remind us of that. We’re fortunate enough to have a home at Dubai Design District till at least the end of 2019, but during that time, you can expect to see us in other cities like London, tokyo, hong kong and Barcelona, working on smaller events, working to connect people to our city.

This year, Sole DXB takes place from Dec 7-9, 2017, Find out more here

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