Khaleej Times - City Times

Sneakers are a part of a person’s identity: Kickasso

- DAVID LIGHT

david@khaleejtim­es.com

POSSESSING THE BEST trainers is nothing new. As far back as the eighties, sitcoms and soap operas have been replete with bedraggled parents trying to placate their enfants terribles with the latest ‘kicks’. Netflix’s polemical sensation, Hassan Minhaj, even dedicated an entire episode of his Patriot Act show to the sneaker industry’s lure and subsequent profit, highlighti­ng the programme with anecdotes about his personal weakness for Nike Air Jordans fomented during childhood.

Arguably the developmen­t, which took appreciati­on beyond a few compliment­s to an actual phenomenon has been the recognitio­n of the culture surroundin­g the love of gym shoes and their impact on everyday living. As with most trends, the original ‘sneakerhea­ds’ were formed on the streets of New York and LA where a unique and thus expensive pair of trainers commanded a degree of respect. Heavily tied in with concurrent urban attraction­s such as hip-hop, street dancing and graffiti, the shoes became part of an unofficial uniform.

Sports and entertainm­ent stars, many of whom had been inculcated with a respect for the ethos as a result of their upbringing, took sneaker worship worldwide to the point where we now have rapper Kanye West selling his Yeezys for upwards of Dhs1500 and can attend Sole DXB, an annual UAE festival of trainers delivering associated slick musical acts, food and basketball tournament­s.

“Sneakers are a part of a person’s identity and they say a lot about that person, the style and what they love,” said customisat­ion artist Troy Cole, better known as Kickasso. Founder of Kickasso Kustoms, Cole’s Los Angeles studio takes the convention­al store-bought plimsoll and transforms it into a work of art

You’re given licence to customise the apparel of a sports team of your choice, which is it and what do you do?

The Los Angeles Lakers. I’m from California and a big sports fan. It would be great to customise everything for The Lakers!

so impressive customers have included athletes like David Beckham, Dwyane Wade and Chris Johnson.

Cole will be in Dubai today and tomorrow offering the opportunit­y to enhance your Reebok sneakers for free in honour of the brand’s launch

of their first-ever Fit Hub 3.0 store in The Dubai Mall. From 6pm to 9pm on both days you can meet the designer and sass-up your shoes.

“I’m a big fan of Reebok and all of their designs,” Cole told us ahead of his arrival. “I love the Classics and working my designs on them. This will be my first time in Dubai so I’m really excited. The city looks really cool with amazing landmarks to see and loads to do.”

Establishe­d just under a decade ago, the last few years have seen Cole’s projects go from individual commission­s to a full-time steady stream of business.

“I love being creative and I love sneakers so it made perfect sense to me,” Cole said on his beginnings. “To be able to mix two passions and form a The customisat­ion of apparel and vehicles is huge in the US, but only catching on elsewhere. Why do you think that is? Do you think the thought of how expensive it may be puts people off?

I’m not sure why it hasn’t been as popular elsewhere, but I’m here to change that. Clothing and trainers are easily accessible now you can buy online so more people are looking at ways to show their individual­ity, whilst also buying quality known brands. career from it is a dream that I had for a long time.

“I get to put people’s personalit­y into their clothing and sneakers meaning that no two days are the same.”

Despite the plethora of celebrity names coming through the door, one special customer stands out and it’s not actor of the moment Michael B. Jordan, as we would have expected. It happened to be Cleveland Browns American footballer Odell Beckham Jr.

“I did all of his stuff up until last year. He loves it and it’s great to work with him. He is top of his game and always in the media spotlight. He’s a very creative guy. He knows what he wants, and he gives me freedom to basically do what I do.”

But which design does Cole lean towards when given free reign?

“The most popular things for me are The Joker and superhero stuff. I’m inspired by literally everything. Mixing culture and tradition with my creativity is something that I love doing.”

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