Bangkok, with its young and diverse population, has earned its spot as one of South East Asia’s most influential hubs for street style.
Inspired by the hip-hop and skateboarding subcultures of the ‘90s and early ‘00s that influenced Thai fashion, Carnival established its flagship store in Bangkok’s iconic Siam Square in 2010 – right in the heart of the city’s most trendy neighborhood. We sat down with the Carnival team to hear about the evolution of Bangkok’s sneaker culture and the influence of the Nike Dunk.
PINT, CARNIVAL CEO
Bangkok’s sneakers scene started out as very niche. In pre-internet times when shopping online wasn’t an option and there were no sneaker retailers in the country, the only way to cop a limited edition pair was to travel abroad – a luxury very few could afford. We realized we could bring those limited pairs to Thailand and make it more accessible to sneaker lovers, and that idea gave birth to Carnival.
In the ten years since we opened the first Carnival store, we’ve seen a boom in Bangkok’s appetite for exclusive sneaker styles and have adapted to cater to that demand. As access to internet has grown, we’ve seen an increasing influence of hip hop music and skateboarding on the way Bangkok’s youth dress and a large part of that fashion movement has revolved around kicks. The fact that we have expanded to four branches across the city as well as expanded into e-commerce through an online store and app speaks to the growing understanding of and demand for sneaker culture in the city.
When we realized that our customers wanted to add a bit of a local touch as well, we created a new line of Carnival streetwear apparel that allows us to include Bangkok’s local flavor while collaborating with iconic brands like Nike.
ITIM, CARNIVAL MARKETING
Our most popular Nike kicks, unsurprisingly, are the Dunks – no sneakerhead’s collection is complete without a pair. The love for Dunk in Bangkok began in 2005 when skating culture became popular here. The Dunk x Stussy, Dunk x Diamond and Dunk x SBTG were the first SB shoes to hit the market. At the time, collecting sneakers wasn’t popular so people would actually skate in the shoes in Bangkok, much to the shock of sneakerheads in other countries.
In addition to selling Dunks, we are telling the story behind this iconic footwear; when we dropped the Nike x Off-White Dunk Low, we created a Dunk museum in our store to show the evolution of the style over the years and the different collaborations. Sneaker culture goes so much deeper than simply collecting shoes – the history and cultural context of the Dunk are what make it so special and we want to educate people on that.
FERN, CARNIVAL SALES EXECUTIVE
One of the most exciting shifts we are seeing in Bangkok now is that more women are starting to appreciate sneakers. We were surprised by the number of women who come to our stores looking for Dunks – the women’s Dunk Disrupt style flew off our shelves in minutes, but we’ve seen a growing interest from women in unisex or even men’s styles. It’s a promising new avenue for Carnival and we’re looking forward to leading the sneaker conversation for her.