The year 2000 gave us a bunch of things. The Millennium Bug. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. DeviantART. The Nintendo Gamecube. Dora The Explorer. The International Space Station’s first crew. iTunes.
And the atmos sneaker boutique, which started in Tokyo. If any company’s gonna be named ‘Japanese brand of the 21st century’, we think this one should be it.
A sneaker empire built from the ground up
Born in Harajuku – where else? – atmos drew crowds from the start. The shop stocked global sneaker brands, and had access to the specific shoe models people wanted, at more reasonable prices for the Japan market.
It all came about on founder Hidefumi Honmyo’s trip to America in the 90s. He saw the shoes all his friends were raving about being sold dirt cheap. Buying up stock, taking it home in a suitcase and reselling at higher prices felt like a great idea.
His first venture in Tokyo was a vintage sneaker and clothes shop (Chapter) in a Harajuku junk yard in 1996. When that took off, and stayed popular, the next step was atmos.
Not long after opening, atmos got noticed by Nike. They weren’t mad about the sneaker sales – they wanted in. What started as an American sneaker import store became the only place to get Japan-exclusive collab kicks. And fast! The first pairs of atmos x Nike Air Force Max 1 sneakers dropped in 2002.
Sure, there’s another atmos store in New York now, and one in Seoul. Plus some other outlets in Asia. But the flagship Tokyo shop’s still where the most coveted sneakers are.
Every pair’s as unique as the person wearing it
After Nike, other shoe makers quickly followed – a lot of them.
Many of the most famous sneaker brands in the world have lined up to do special atmos collabs:
Along with a bunch of other brands that don’t make shoes, but do make other cool and interesting stuff:
The store location means new sneaker designs get heavily influenced by Harajuku styles and trends. Sometimes, those kicks get a bit crazy: vivid colours, animal prints, weird concepts and unusual finishes. There was that range of Nike Air Max 1 ‘curry’-coloured shoes. There was that barbershop-themed adidas collab.
It’s all gotten so huge, and so hyped, that an annual 1-day sneaker convention – ‘atmoscon’ – started back in 2013. Over 4,000 people showed up in Shibuya for the 2018 meet.
As well as going for the exclusive merch tables, talk shows and live/DJ music, sneakerheads use atmoscon as an excuse to show off their shoes. Imagine it – a whole day out at one of the industry’s biggest events, and you spend it looking down at the ground.
Order Japan-exclusive collab kicks from anywhere
Before the internet came along, sneaker collectors would visit Tokyo just for the atmos exclusives. Save your soles – you don’t need to travel anywhere to get your kicks.
Buy atmos shoes and streetwear from Japan on the DEJAPAN website. Seen the perfect pair somewhere else? You can make orders from other sites (like the atmos Japan online shop) using our item request form.