Jacob Cain’s interest in streetwear and sneakers first manifested as an online pursuit in high school.

“It’s been a hobby of mine for about 10 years,” says the co-owner of Sole By Style. What would become his Covington streetwear store was first a way for him to flip clothing and shoes through the internet as a way to afford the items he really wanted. In college he shifted his hobby into a web-based business and found the spark to build it into something more.

Cain saw that streetwear culture wasn’t being supported in Cincinnati as it was in larger cities like Chicago or Los Angeles, the latter of which is bursting with stores like Sole By Style up and down Melrose Avenue.

“I knew the sneaker culture here was big enough for it,” Cain says. “It was always something that I wanted to do.”

After graduating, Cain looked for opportunities to create a brick-and-mortar store, one that would not only function as a retailer but also a gathering place for the intersecting interests of streetwear and sneaker culture. After all, the brands that dominate the trend—from Thrasher and Supreme to Air Jordan and Travis Scott—have roots in the skateboard, punk and hip-hop scenes. Streetwear culture merges fashion, art and music into a unique collective that forms its own community of collectors, enthusiasts and artists.

Eventually, Cain found 617 Madison Ave. during a drive through Covington early in 2019.

“I knew it right away—if this is going to happen, it’s going to be here,” he recalls.

With a little help from Austin Dunbar of Covington’s Durham Brand & Co., whose office is one floor above Sole By Style, the interior was built out over two months to hold an entire wall of signature and limited-edition sneakers, several racks of clothing from popular streetwear brands and display cases of various other forms of branded merchandise.

August 17 brought the store’s one-year anniversary, commemorated with a sale event and celebration. The party featured gift card giveaways, discounts on just about everything in the store and music performed by local artists DJ Hope and Chris Crooks while customers old and new flocked to intersection of Madison and West Pike Street.

“There’s definitely a whole thing that goes around it besides selling shoes and trying to make money,” Cain says of the community that builds through a store like his.

With a year in the books as a company with both a physical storefront and its long-running online presence (exemplified through its popular Instagram), Cain and Sole By Style aren’t slowing down. The store just launched its YouTube channel where it posts videos showing off the visual appeal of streetwear culture and the store itself. In the next couple of years, Cain wants to find the next store’s location, for which he wants a bigger and bolder concept.

In the meantime, Covington’s Sole By Style will keep growing into its role as one of the only true streetwear retailers in Northern Kentucky and a gathering place for the many people in on the trend and the community that coalesces within it.