Lafayette’s ‘Sneaker Politics’ Recognized Amongst Complex Magazine’s 10 Best Sneaker Shops In The South
Lafayette is often recognized for it's delicious food and amazing culture. Recently, we were dubbed the 'Tastiest Town' according to Southern Living. We also just celebrated Festival International de Louisiane which was crowned as the best for world music. Tell somebody to make some room on Lafayette's trophy shelf for another top honor as our very own Sneaker Politics was recently ranked by Complex Magazine as one of the 10 Best Sneaker Shops In The South.
I can remember back in 2005, when I met a guy named Derek Curry while he was working at Finish Line in the Mall of Acadiana. He noticed my friend and I because of the limited edition kicks we were wearing, and told us he was really serious about opening up his own 'sneaker boutique' in Lafayette that carried exclusive footwear and other premium men's apparel and accessories. We exchanged numbers and within a few months we were checking out a spot he was interested in off Arnould Blvd. Just a few months after that Sneaker Politics officially opened for business and never looked back.
Since opening the doors in 2006, the Sneaker Politics brand has expanded with a location in New Orleans and recently opening up shop in Baton Rouge. In addition to the three retail storefronts, Politics is constantly shipping out products via phone order to people all over the world. Their hustle has definitely paid off because recently, they were recognized by culture giant Complex Magazine as one of the 10 Best Sneaker Shops in the South.
But what makes Politics any different than a Finish Line - the place I originally met Curry - or a Foot Locker, or any chain-type of shoe store that can be found in just about any mall? Ironically, the answer can be found in the mantra of the magazine that gave Politics it's props. "Buy," "Collect" and "Obsess." You see those words on every issue of Complex Magazine, and as human beings, it's truly what we do on a daily basis.
- Buy - We love spending money ... just look around at all the unnecessary things you have within arms reach.
- Collect - Everyone has something they like to collect, for some, it's super limited exclusive kicks.
- Obsess - iThis, iThat. Brands. Reality shows. Art. Music. Celebrities. The opposite sex. The list goes on.
In the last decade the sneaker industry has exploded and major athletic footwear companies have taken big notice. Brands like Nike, Adidas & Vans have put a major focus on releasing a variety of limited edition styles that feature unique color combinations, luxurious materials and nifty collaborations with other brands and artists. Combined with clever marketing, these exclusive designs are often only made available through trendy sneaker boutiques and other high end retailers.
The big brands know that without the influential sneaker shops to sell their collectible diamonds, there would be no culture craze, no hype and (gasp) no sneaker-heads. If the term "sneaker-head" is confusing to you, just pass by your local indie sneaker boutique on a day when the latest pair of limited edition kicks are released for purchase. Chances are, there will be a line - and in that line, you will find "sneaker-heads."
Some may scoff at the idea of waiting in line to buy a pair of shoes, or find it silly for people to obsess over footwear, and that's understandable. While the naysayers are laughing and scratching their heads, what started out as a small group of consumers has literally become a global phenomenon. Many new stores have tried to capitalize on this phenomenon, but quickly find out that it's so much more than just opening up a space and selling colorful shoes. With so many hats in the game only the most influential are able to continue to set the trends and dictate what's cool.
After building somewhat of a southern sneaker empire you would think that Derek Curry would just sit back and let the shoes sell themselves, but that couldn't be any farther from the truth.
People come into the store and make me feel like more of a stylist than just another neighborhood retailer. I'm not gonna sit behind the counter while you look through my store, that's not me. That's wack. I'm gonna talk music with you. I'm gonna talk about whatever sports are in season. I'm gonna find out what you're doing this weekend and help you put something together based off of your style, or a pair of kicks that you might wanna rock ... not what I want to sell you. We only get to live this life once, why not look cool doing it?
Derek Curry, Sneaker Politics Founder/Store Owner
Beyond the merchandise, the sneaker boutique has become a crossroad for just about every walk of life imaginable. Skaters, artists, musicians, DJs, athletes, cool kids, young kids, old kids and everyone in between all seem to find a common ground amongst the rare kicks that outline the storefront. Sneaker Politics New Orleans store owner Patrick Bowden (aka DJ Kemistry) describes his shop as a melting pot, much like the city that it's located in.
On any given day you can walk in and see Mystikal or your favorite New Orleans bounce rapper getting fresh for a show they might have later on that night. You might see Drew Brees in here buying the latest Nixon watches for his O-line right next to a 14-year-old neighborhood skate kid who may end up riding for Nike one day. It's crazy, the sneaker shop is like the modern day barbershop.. it's all here.
Patrick Bowden, Sneaker Politics New Orleans Store Owner
Exclusive kicks, one-of-a-kind collabos, the latest brands, the freshest designs and all around cool kids can be found at all 3 locations of Sneaker Politics, Mon-Sat between 11a-7p. And when you step in the door, know that you are standing in one of the best sneaker shops in the country.
For the who, what, when, where and why of Sneaker Politics, be sure to check out their official site. Also, be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram & Twitter (@sneakerpolitics) to stay up on whats fresh!