Real lives: No, I don't want to Just Do It, thank you

LOUISE FRANCE doesn't own a pair of trainers. Weird, eh? We sent her to Britain's first NikeTown, which opened yesterday, to see if it could sort her out

I am perhaps the only person in Britain under the age of 35 who does not own a pair of trainers. My argument has always been that a pretty pair of turquoise Mary Janes are perfectly adequate for the kind of exercise I do (walking from my bed to the fridge and back again) and that there is no room in my wardrobe for some cumbersome, dayglo, pumped-up footwear.

Indeed, it's a fair indication of my interest in all things sports footwear that should someone proudly show me a pair of spanking new trainers my response is to panic and blurt out something along the lines of: "Oh look! What a lovely pair of, er, pumps you have."

Logically it follows that I am not a great player of sport. Following an embarrassing experience when I slipped flat on my back in the school showers at the age of 14, I vowed never to enter a changing room again. I do not run, or jump, or even Fosbury Flop. The last time I rode a bike I fell off.

So I was like Thora Hird at a line dance competition last week when I visited NikeTown, the new Nike shop at Oxford Circus in the centre of London. Personally, I hadn't heard of NikeTowns but by all accounts they are a pretty big deal in the States where the first store opened in 1990. There are now 11 branches across America and one in Berlin. The Oxford Circus branch, which opened its doors this weekend, is only the second in Europe.

It's taken two-and-a-half years to build and more money than you can chuck a tennis ball at. (Sadly, Nike is not giving out official figures.) But calling NikeTown a "shop" is like calling the Beatles "a cute four- man guitar combo". As you walk through the main doors, there is a sense that you are walking into some kind of hallowed place. A veritable temple to trainers, a palace for pumps.

I was wearing a pair of Birkenstocks for my guided tour. Indeed, there's the rub. For Nike is having to face up to the fact that trainers are no longer the must-have footwear for a generation. Last year it reported its first slide in profits for 13 years. For as soon as dads started wearing them to B&Q on a Saturday, the younger market turned elsewhere. Now we're wearing all kinds of shoes from itsy bitsy kitten heels with very useful plastic cherries on the straps to Timberland walking boots. And our trainers (or rather your trainers since I never had any) are left quietly mouldering away at the back of the hall cupboard.

Which is all rather problematic when you've got precisely 49,000 pairs of the bloody things in the stock cupboard. Wisely then Nike is flogging its merchandise by promoting sport. When you enter the store and walk through the atrium - a domed space called a "decompression zone" which Nike hopes will become a meeting point for athletic clubs - you see the words `To all athletes and the dreams they chase, we dedicate NikeTown, London" emblazoned across the wall.

Walking around the 69,000 square metres of shop - and that's a lot of walking, let me tell you - there's a sense that Nike's attempting to elevate sport (and surely by extension shopping) into something spiritual. NikeTown is a shrine to sportsmen and women. Every 20 minutes the blinds go down electronically and a 360 degree video screen starts up with mini films about sporting heroes. Frankly, it's all a tad Orwellian. Around every corner there are rousing aphorisms and slogans encouraging you to wash your smelly PE kit and run up and down a lot while wearing, naturally, top-to-toe Nike.

Not that they haven't been creative in the way they've designed the store. The main space has been sectioned off into mini streets and specially designed buildings which ape the London skyline. Each department is cleverly designed with the specific sport in mind. The Men's Football dept, for instance, is carpeted in artificial turf. In Men's Tennis the sounds of balls being thwacked and blokes grunting as they serve are piped through the PA system. In Men's Running there are glass cases exhibiting each generation of trainer. Frankly this bit went over my head. Suffice I'm told they're a lot better than they used to be.

The women's section is the biggest women's sports department in Europe - "not a mere peach add on" as the Nike spokesperson says. Like the men's bit, each enclave is dedicated to a different sport. Nike is doing research into why girls stop doing sport when they reach their teens - this obviously struck a chord with me. I almost told the Nike spokesperson about the shower incident but thought better of it.

As you leave through the main atrium the words "Go Run! Go Jump! Go Play!" can be read along the tops of the double doors. How About A Nice Cup Of Tea? would have been more my style, I have to admit. Then just when I thought it was all over, I had a memorable moment on the street outside. For what should I find slap bang next door to the souped-up, all-singing, all-dancing NikeTown? A branch of the outsize clothing store Evans. Now, that's what I call a shop.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sustainability Manager

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

    Graduate Sustainability Professional

    Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

    £100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn