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In Store:
Sporting goodies

International sportswear giants are staking their claims on the fashion-conscious streets of Shibuya. Martin Webb slips on his sneakers to bring us up to speed.


New Balance
New Balance flexes its shoemaking muscles with this mighty store in Harajuku, towering over neighboring buildings and proclaiming its presence with an enormous poster. This is the first, official store in Japan for New Balance, the brand marketed as footwear for the serious athlete complete with trend-defying styling and appropriately technical-sounding names. The Athlete section, in the basement, is home to the Big Size corner, professional athlete's shoes and lots of screaming logo apparel. The Contemporary department, at ground level, displays new models, the "Commuter" and "Mode Comfort" lines and Dunham, New Balance's walking boot offshoot. Aside from more sneakers and accessories, the second floor, labeled "Classic," accommodates the kids' section and the Goodie Bear café, which has access to a spacious veranda. High price tags accompany displays boldly labeled "Made in USA/UK," making Japan-designed items not available overseas a better buy for foreign customers. Whether you commute, trail run, cross-train or hike, make your way to this retail monster when your soles start to come away from their uppers.

Open 11am-8pm. Harajuku Takara Estate Bldg, 1-8-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5785-3366. Nearest stn: Meijijingumae.

adidas Originals

The craze for vintage clothing has been hitting some fashion retailers pretty hard, especially those whose business is street casual wear. Few brands are as prized as adidas when it comes to vintage, and the guys at head office have come up with a scheme to cash in on the cachet of the company's illustrious history: adidas Originals. Opened on Cat Street last month, the store is laid out much like a flea market with low trestle tables and haphazard stacks of cardboard boxes. The stock consists chiefly of remakes of classic adidas items from 1972-1996, allowing shoppers to get the retro look without having to traipse around swap meets or trawl through vintage stores. You may need to wear in the 83-C training top and 1976 Stan Smiths yourself, but at least the smells and stains will be your own. Some newly designed items on offer include the affordable Levi's collaboration denim sneakers and not-so-affordable Swarovski collaboration, a rhinestone-encrusted fantasy shoe available only in this store.

Open 11am-8pm. Cat Street, 6-14-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5464-5580. Nearest stn: Meijijingumae.


Puma
Bitter rivals of adidas for 54 years, having been established by Adolf Dassler's disgruntled brother Rudi, Puma is still battling it out with the three stripes for dominance of the retro sneaker market. Puma's latest move in the war is the unveiling of the world's second Puma concept store (the first is in Santa Monica, Calif.) late last year in Harajuku. As might be expected from a "concept store," this one boasts a smart, clean interior and is sparsely stocked with high-end Puma products. The Italian-designed revival line, "Platinum Collection," is the mainstay of this sneaker freak's paradise, but specially selected accessories, bags and clothes from other lines do make their way into the store. If you need to get kitted out for the gym, get down to Kanda, where "concept" means high-brow, high-fashion, high prices. Those who care about what message their footwear communicates won't want to miss the hot releases due in store this season. With the resounding success of the Puma/Sparco boxing boots behind them, more dual name sneakers are in the cards, including a new Jil Sander design. This store is the only place to be seen buying that dinky gym bag, a styling T-shirt or a good ol' pair of Clydes.

Open 11am-8pm. Harajuku Quest Bldg 1F, 1-13-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3401-6100. Nearest stn: Harajuku.

Nike at 01one

The undisputed heavyweight champ of the sportswear world, Nike lands another blow to its envious rivals by grabbing two whole floors of Shibuya's Marui One. The reconfiguration of the Marui triumvirate has seen the fashion departments of One's third and fourth floor shifted to Marui City down the street to make way for Nike and transform the building into a hip hop/streetwear megaplex. All the Nike lines are here, from Jordan to All Conditions Gear, swimming to tennis, baseball, basketball and golf. The brand's sponsorship deals with top soccer stars like Ruis Figo, Ronaldo and Nakata will ensure healthy interest through the World Cup season, but if soccer isn't your sport of choice, try paying a visit just to marvel at the impressive sneaker wall on the fourth floor. With more new designs, more lines, and more colors than any other brand, Nike remains streets ahead. Sportsters who like to show off a swoosh should streak down to Shibuya sharpish.

Open 11am-8pm. 1-12-13 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3464-0101. Nearest stn: Shibuya.


ASBee

Converse, K-Swiss, adidas, Dunlop, a couple of Japan-based labels and the company's own brand are just some of the names that can be found at this whiter-than-box-fresh-Reeboks store. The models that make it into this new branch have been specially selected to appeal to the more fashion-conscious, funky footwear fetishist, and the company's own brand tracks high fashion trends with alarming precision. ASBee has exclusive distribution rights to the new line of Ecko sneakers for women, all but sold out so don't spare the shoe leather: hurry down and snap up a pair. Other nice finds are the new adidas Stan Smiths replete with Stan's smiling image on the tongue and the pre-stained Dunlop Green Flash. The genteel atmosphere of Omotesando seems to have rubbed off on the sales assistants, who wear smart uniforms and have much less of the bad attitude that one has to be prepared for when entering similar stores. A great spot for sneakers to strut your stuff in, pay it a visit in between espressos along this stylish strip.

Open 11am-8pm. Minagawa Bldg 1F, 6-2-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5774-1192. Nearest stn: Meijijingumae.

Photos: Brooke Wheeler

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503: The write stuff
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499: Blasts from the past
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429: Jet, set, go!
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425: Loud and clear
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421: Red brick revival
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417: Eye browse
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413: Sporting goodies
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405: Puff 'n' Stuff
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