Unfortunately, expect to pay at least 25% more for gear here. A pair of Air Max's that would cost 90 USD in America will run about 800rmb (125 USD) in the Nike shop here.
Metro Stop: 7 min walk from Exit 1, Changshu Lu Station, Line 1
Good For: Nike SBs, skateboards, Fly gear, the skate community
A skater named Jeff Han who used to work in a milk factory opened Shanghai's first skate shop way back in 1999. Though he never turned pro, a lot of Chinese skaters in his clique did, and you'll still find sponsored skaters hanging out there in 2015. This is where you go in Shanghai to find Nike SB's, as well as VANS, Converse, Adidas (the only shop in China with the Adidas skateboarding collection), HUF, and the Levi's skateboarding collection. They also stock decks, wheels, bearings, completes, and Fly's line of original clothing. This places comes first on our list because of the history and the community around this place, and their staff is really down to earth, probably because they actually skate. Sometimes FLY hosts events like photo exhibitions, too.
For more on Fly, peep this interview with the founder.
Metro Stop: 5 min walk from Exit 4, Hengshan Lu Station, Line 1
Good For: OG Feiyue, Warrior -- iconic Chinese sneakers
Coming straight outta' Shanghai, Feiyue is a classic Chinese sneaker brand that started in the 1920s. If you're looking to practice kung fu, these are ideal. They're also comfortable, unique, and only 50-100rmb for a pair. That's cheaper than fake shoes! While Feiyue are comfortable for walking around in, they don't provide the best support for running. Culture Matters is a tiny, tiny shop on Dongping Lu, right by where Not Me club used to be. Note these are the real OG Feiyues, not the French remix.
For more about Feiyue, this local dude named Steward kept a pretty insightful a blog about the sneakers until around 2010.
Metro Stop: 8 min walk from Exit 1, Changshu Lu Station, Line 1
Good For: Exclusive Nike releases and collaborations
What used to be a streetwear and sneaker shop called The Source became one of six Nike Labs in the world in 2014 (the others are in NYC, Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Milan). Kids often camp outside of this spot overnight to cop the latest collabo between Nike and some Japanese designer. it's set up almost like an art gallery and they often host [exclusive] events. While this is definitely one of the more expensive spots, they do stock items you can't find anywhere else in the world, including other Nike Labs. Each Nike Lab shop has their own sneaker, but sadly the Shanghai edition is far from fresh.
Metro Stop: 5 min walk from Exit 6, Jing'an Temple Station, Line 7
Good For: Coffee, original Doe gear
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10am-9.30pm | Sat-Sun, 12pm-10pm
Doe (Dou, 豆) means "bean" in Chinese, and Doe the streetwear shop slangs their own roasts and makes slow drip coffee on site. The space itself is lovely (feels a bit like the old Source but less industrial) but the sneaker selection is lackluster. Maybe they don't want other brands to outshine their own Doe collection, which is quite dope. Their branding and logo design is on point (that Tiger drinking a coffee on the coffee bags is a nice touch), and I'd come here for a coffee, especially on a rainy day. Staff don't seem like sneakerheads though and weren't particularly outgoing.
Metro Stop: 5 min walk from Exit 9, Jing'an Temple Station, Line 7
Good For: CLOT, other streetwear
Edison Chen's streetwear brand CLOT has had a three-story shop on Julu Lu since 2009. The selection is decent, staff are friendly, and they get some exclusives. Brands include HBA, Been Trill, Odd Future, Raised By Wolves, SSUR, Undefeated, and Herschel. This one also has outposts in Beijing, Taipei, and HK.
Metro Stop: 8 min walk from Exit 4, Changshu Lu Station, Line 1
Good For: Grown-up gear.
Alright this is the most expensive option on our list, but if you're looking for nice, grown-and-sexy men's clothing that doesn't come from Zara, H&M, Uniclo, or the fabric market, this is the spot. Aside from sneakers (not their forte), loafers, and other footwear, they stock brands like Rag & Bone, Creep, Surface To Air, Steven Alan, Norse Projects, Public School, and lots more. There's also accessories like laptop bags, wallets, yuppie lifestyle toys, draft beer and some snacks. This is one of the few places in Shanghai that does really good seasonal sales, so watch out for those because prices can get slashed to half-off or less.
Metro Stop: 2 min walk from Shaanxi Nan Lu Station, Line 10
Good For: Jordans, Air Force 1's, Air Max 90s, Nike Basketball
The selection at a lot of Nike shops in Shanghai* is more like that of an outlet store -- you won't find much. But this flagship in the IAPM is a definite exception. Not only do they have most of the latest Jordans and Nike Basketball / Running kicks, their apparel game is strong, with lots of nice shorts, T-shirts, and gym gear. Guess this is the closest thing to a Niketown in Shanghai, and you'll even find a few Nike Shanghai pieces sometimes. Good service and shop design, too.
*Note: There are dozens of Nike shops in Shanghai, including one at the corner of Sinan Lu and Huaihai Lu, and another near People's Square. Those are OK options for standard Nikes, but they're similar to Nike shops you'll find in any other big city. The Kicks Lounge and the Xinle Lu shop are a bit more unique.
Metro Stop: 7 min walk from Exit 6, Shanxi Nan Lu Station, Line 10
Good For: Rare kicks, luxury sneakers, Jordans.
WZK has the most impressive sneaker collection I've seen in Shanghai. Whether it's Dunks or Air Max's, they have colorways you won't find at any other shop downtown. But even more impressive is their Jordan selection. They have pretty much every pair ever made, all shrink-wrapped and hidden behind a case. Lots of New Balances and Reeboks in here too, and many options for ladies. One point of annoyance though, on our visit, four staff followed us all over the whole store like we were about to go all Winona Ryder in there.
Metro Stop: 7 min walk from Exit 2, Shanxi Nan Lu Station, Line 1
Good For: Fitted hats, plain T-shirts, streetwear, local designers.
Finally, if you need hats and shirts to go with those new kicks, SoCal is the place. Originally just a Taobao shop, their storefront has a huge collection of [legit] fitted hats for like 150-200rmb each. That's about half the price of the official MLB shops, which charge something ridiculous like 400rmb for a hat. Taxing...
SoCal feels more like a spot in Beijing or NYC. The staff are friendly and they're always bumping some rap or trap on the speakers. They also stock heavyweight plain T-Shirts -- the same kind you'll find at the Korean shops in LA -- in at least a dozen colors, shirts by brands like Stussy, Carhartt, and Trukfit, and even some gear by local brands like Operation Chinchilla.
Know about other spots? Leave 'em in the comments