Huddled within the gorgeous vintage Behbehani Villas in Kuwait City, you’ll find a few splashes of modernity – a Starbucks, the original Casper and Gambini’s of yore, and a… sneaker store!
SoSneaky is the Marafi sisters’ gift to Kuwait – a haven where the style savvy, confident and curious can find a prime selection of one of the most comfortable fashion essentials: sneakers. Run by Sarah and Masoumah Marafi, SoSneaky is an artfully arranged store containing sporty chic apparel for both men and women. “Our sneakers come from different corners of the world,” big sister Sarah Marafi says as she walks us through the spacious, art-deco inspired designed store. “We realize that in Kuwait, like many other places, people are focused on and prioritize the big brands like Nike and Adidas – while we think they’re great, we would like to stock brands that are known outside Kuwait, but not in Kuwait- in addition to brands people know and love. We like to branch out and include lesser-known brands in our inventory. We want to offer Kuwait something different.”
And different their inventory is! When you walk around SoSneaky and take a clear look at the sneakers on display, the range and originality of the selection is apparent, and it’s obvious that Sarah and Masoumah know their stuff when dealing with the vendors. “We’re both sneakerheads!” Sarah laughs, “We both like casual wear and believe in being comfortable and stylish – this is something we’d like to help incorporate into Kuwait’s style scene. We like to think of SoSneaky as a lifestyle and not a trend.”
The merchandise at SoSneaky can easily be worn as way of life rather than a way of trend. Both men’s and women’s apparel are vast and range from comfortably stylish, to slightly trendy, but are mostly timeless. What’s also great about the SoSneaky boutique is that they support local designers on top of lesser-known brands. The gender-neutral apparel is also great because men and women alike can shop freely and purchase what they genuinely feel will work with their wardrobe, such as selecting a cool piece from local Youngg Design’s cutting edge tanks, or fun Disney inspired shirts by Eleven Paris. Gender specific clothing is available too, like gorgeous pure silk pieces from Danish designer RWD.
In the store, you can see elements of both Sarah and Masoumah’s characters. Sarah’s Nordic influence shows in the store’s construction, with light colored wood and shelving schemes inspired by her Copenhagen apartment. Civil Engineering student Masoumah is an artsy soul, which ties nicely into the graffiti art that works its way into the store’s design. She also fancies herself an environmentalist, which explains the refreshing pops of green lining throughout the décor. “I wanted to be an environmental engineer, and civil engineering is the closest I could get to that!” she says with a shy smile.
But as different as they may appear, their sisterly bond is strong and the two work beautifully together. Sarah, the older and more talkative sister, added, “Because I’m based in Denmark more than I am in Kuwait and live there full-time, I depend on her to hold down the fort while I’m gone. Of course, I’ll come back as often as I can and help out, but Masoumah lives here and I still have a life in Denmark.”
What else did the sisters bring to each other’s lives? Lots of sneakers! “Sarah turned me into a sneakerhead!” Masoumah laughs. “they weren’t a big part of my wardrobe before, but my collection keeps growing now, because of her.” This statement is undoubtedly accurate, because when we asked what their first favorite sneaker was, Sarah answered with a vehemence that traced back to her first beloved sneaker at the predicted age of a tender six or seven, Masoumah collects herself for a more modern response. “Jordan Futures,” she states coolly, “black with green stripes – I like black because it goes with everything.”
The store has been running smoothly since their April 23rd opening, as commemorated in the form of graffiti on a wall in the store. “Everything about our store is sneaky – the location, the sneakers, the brands we use – it all ties into the name!” Sarah says excitedly as she poses grinning with a pair of sneakers. “We have plans to collaborate with pop-ups in the future, so stay tuned for that!”
Photography by Muneera Alkhulaifi.