Being a sneakerhead in Canada these days is a lonely business. The routine looks the same every week: Wake up early. Launch the SNKRS app and load the Foot Locker home page. Enter some raffles. Hit StockX. Nine times out of ten crawl back into bed disappointed. One time out of ten celebrate alone. The whole process might not seem so bleak if it weren’t so… well, so lonesome. In this age of never-ending lockdowns, closed stores, and no lines allowed, most sneakerheads only have the L to keep us company.
size? is looking forward to the moment when it can eradicate sneakerhead loneliness. The enormously popular streetwear retailer has been celebrated as one of the greatest sneaker stores in the world since its founding more than 20 years ago in the year 2000, and across the United Kingdom, where the brand originated, it’s considered by many as the be-all and end-all for buying rare and exclusive shoes. Now size? is finally coming to Canada this May, both as an online Canadian storefront and a massive brick-and-mortar retail shop in the heart of downtown Toronto—a move sneakerheads who’ve had a taste of the UK version have been waiting for literally for years.
And what the size? guys are thrilled about most, right now, is connecting with local sneakerheads—with giving people a reason to ditch the apps and head somewhere they can feel at home. “Everyone is stuck buying things online right now, but being able to actually come in, see new faces, talk to the staff, see and touch product that they might not be able to find online anyway, that’s so exciting to us,” says Jake Biggs, store manager for size? Toronto. “This company has been around for a long time overseas, and now we get to bring that sense of community and what the brand is all about to Canada.”
It’s been a long time coming. And for sneakerheads familiar with the brand, its reputation clearly precedes its arrival. “I’m from the UK originally, and I can remember going to size? when I was like 15 years old, seeing sneakers everywhere, and thinking, who the hell are these guys?” says Todd Bullions, who works with size? from Vancouver as their digital marketing manager. “It’s always been about so much more than just selling product. It’s about the culture and the community. size? is not just about going in to buy some shoes. It’s about the whole environment and culture and helping people grow through that.”
In Toronto, size? will be taking over the former home of Shinola and Stussy on the corner of Queen West and Ossington, near Trinity Bellwoods Park. For the size? crew, there could hardly be a more perfect location. “Shinola was there for a while. Stussy was there,” Biggs says. “People remember how memorable those locations where. So us having that corner and being able to put our own stamp on the streetwear scene in Toronto is exciting.” As for what the inside of the store will look like, Bullions says to expect some pretty crazy features. “It’s an old bank, there’s going to be elements that allude to that history,” he says. Although it’s not confirmed, they say there may even be a VIP vault.
One of the things size? is known for in the UK—even among sneakerheads around the world—is the brand’s history of hype collaborations with various sneaker brands. Some of these drops have been extremely difficult to acquire here in Canada, and for many collectors, the best thing about size? launching domestically is the ability to secure this kind of thing going forward. As size? comes to Canada, we’ll never have to miss out on these collabs again.
“A lot of these old sneakerheads know size? and have seen these collabs from the 2000s and haven’t been able to get them,” Biggs explains. “This is the first time people in Canada will have access to stuff from a longstanding brand.”
But at the end of the day, the primary appeal will be what we’ve all been missing so badly: shopping in person around a bunch of other sneakerheads, in what is basically a mecca for shoes. “There’s going to be a lot of hype for that in-store experience when we can do that safely again,” Bullions says. “When things get back to normal there’s going to be nostalgia for that. Just being able to do this stuff in person, and connect with someone in store who has the same interest in sneakers as you, rather than dealing with the isolation of buying things online.” For Bullions, that’s the most important part of the whole launch: community. “This isn’t just about sneakers,” he says. “It’s about everything that goes along with that as well.”