In early February, Nike unveiled a new ad on YouTube: “Nothing Beats a Londoner.” Within a few hours it had gone viral. Some Londoners didn’t like it, claiming that it relied on played out stereotypes like the supposed ubiquity of Skepta among London’s youth. Others, like The Fader, marvelled at it, equating it to “Space Jam, but British.” Subjective assessments aside, it confirmed something that has become increasingly apparent over the last few months: Nike—and its subsidiary, Converse—are banking on London in a big way.

Older sneaker aficionados will know that this is by no means a new development. Despite hailing from the United States, London is at the heart of Nike’s cultural footprint and the brand is deeply ingrained in the city’s landscape, going back to Nike’s transformative decade in the 1990s. Nike’s sales in the U.K. grew by 600 percent throughout the nineties, making it one of the most profitable markets for the brand. By 1999, London was home to a flagship NikeTown and, today, the brand’s Oxford Street store is Nike’s biggest; it’s a testament to the importance placed by the company on developing business in the British capital.

The rise in popularity around the turn of the millennium—and accompanying growth in sales—owes to a few factors. The first was the plethora of premium sneaker retailers in London. The UK has always been home to a vibrant sneaker community, on par with the US, and, as such, its retailers commanded the same type of respect as those stateside.

Follow Marc on Instagram here.