In Our Words

How did where you grew up impact your sneaker style?
I was born and raised in one of the biggest townships in South Africa namely SOWETO. Most of the famous South African artists, political icons, musicians, innovators, poets—you name it—hail from the South Western Township. But now, things changed and I live in the city of Johannesburg (the city of gold “Egoli”)... If Cape Town is L.A. then Jo’burg would be New York.

What’s crazy is that in SOWETO there is a style of dance called “Pantsula”. In the ghettos of South Africa in the 80’s, it was like break dance was to the ghettos of the US. So ALL STARS are to PANTSULA what SHELL TOES are B-BOYING. A lot of us are heavily influenced by what the rest of the world is doing but we give it a local flavour (glocalisation). That’s how I would say that where I group has influenced my sneaker style.

When did you start loving sneakers?
I can’t think of a time when I didn’t like sneakers. It has always been a matter of circumstance, and by that I mean that South Africa has not always been a democracy and that has affected a lot of aspects of the shaping of our youth culture. Our parents had to sacrifice a lot to send us to private school in order to get a decent education. So most of us understand hardship. Which means that back in the day, I could dream about having the latest LA GEAR, Nike or Reebok, but I could not always have them. This is why I think that I’ve always cherished my sneakers. But where I’m from female sneaker lovers are few and far apart.

How did you become a sneaker fiend?
I’ve always been kind of subversive in my approach to life and the way I see myself. I always hated the idea that to be a woman, to be beautiful you have to adhere to certain stereotypes. I’m a “tomboy” so it was only natural that I would be into sneakers. I like to look good, like every one else but comfort is every thing to me. To me sneakers are the answer to the mainstream’s definition of sexy. It’s all about how you rock them.

The earliest memory I have,,, one of those defining moments. I was watching "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Robin Williams, having been disguised as woman for a day, walks home and he says, "If I ever find the ba#$#d who invented high heels…I'll kill him!"

What do family and friends think about you being a sneaker fiend?
It’s not easy for a mother to come to terms with the fact you are not the young pink and perfect princess that she had always wanted. That you like Thunder Cats and not Barbie. But it’s all good, my family knows that I’m a tomboy, and they embrace me for who I am. I’m the type that won’t go to a club if they have a dress code that prohibits sneakers. My friends are not that in to sneakers but I don’t judge them for it, so in return they accept me for who I am.

What’s your favorite sneaker hunting story or success?
I remember in '99 Miss Lauryn Hill came out with the video for the "Doo Wap" song. I was digging the video but there was one particular scene where this girl had on these red suede Pumas with the white and it was like love at first sight. Only problem was, way down here in South Africa there is no place for fiend. Try as I did I could never find them any where in SA.

I had even given up completely until I got the opportunity to travel in the UK. Me and my boy were walking around the city of London, and we bumped into an inconspicuous sneaker store and walked in. I swear the heavens opened up and my jaw dropped. It was like being dipped in chocolate, everywhere I looked I saw a pair I liked. SIZE? … was sneaker heaven on earth. The ambiance was tight and every other pair of sneaker was calling my name. Until I saw them…cherry red suede with a white line (puma). Problem was we didn’t have enough cash and the store was closing. So a couple of days later we went back to London to try and find the store, which proved more difficult than we had thought. It was such a triumph when we found it and I finally had the sneakers I’d been coveting for so long. Since like ’99 when the video came out and it was 2006!

What has had the greatest impact on your sneaker style and love?
It connects me to the culture and music I love and adore. I’m a b-girl at heart and I love LOVE HIP HOP, so I choose hip hop! THE REAL HIP HOP. To me it says that I’m comfortable in my skin, and I don’t conform to the mainstream just like the hip -hop movement. I guess I exist in the creative fields such as design, fashion, anything that involves a level of self –expression, and my sneakers are one way for me to express my individuality and creativity.

I am a young black female and nothing makes me prouder. But that is not all that I am and my style reflects that. I’m the type that doesn’t believe in weaves and all that crap that some of my people do to make them fit it. I like not fitting in.

Describe your sneaker collection.
I like sort of autumn colours… your browns, yellows, reds, greens or combinations. I have a very modest collection which consists of 5 PAIRS OF PUMAS, 6 PAIRS OF ADIDAS, 3 PAIRS OF CONVERSE, 2 PAIRS OF DC SHOES, A PAIR OF ROXY SNEAKERS, A PAIR OF O’NEILS and a pair of boys’ Eckos .

Do you think it’s different being a FEMALE sneaker fiend?
I think to own something like a passion for sneakers says something about you as a girl and it sets you apart, makes you stand out. It shows that you have explored other avenues like “heels from hell” and that kind of thing and have made a decision that f@#*ck what they said, you choose to define an aesthetic for yourself on your own terms. That you are a leader not a follower.

Anything else you want to add?
Like everyone else I want to own a sneaker store, so that I get access to the phattest kicks. If you guys have any ideas on how I could go about it or any connections, please let me know. peace!

Sneaker companies, are you listening? --Lori

Return Home