If you have a hankering for all things vintage then Chris Aylen is your man. You may remember him from our killer vintage sneaker feature in Issue 12 or online here, where he got us sympin’ for some Seismic Nikes and Air Max Plus’. Well, a lot has changed over the last few years, so we thought we should check up on the UK roller to see just what happened with that crazy collection and cop his thoughts on the current state of the sneaker game. Get your bibs ready, this guy’s got the goods that’ll make you drool!

Since the last time we caught up, I’ve been developing my own creative agency and working on other projects in my spare time. It’s been difficult to juggle paid client work with my self-initiated things, but everything is slowly falling into place. The client work allows me the luxury to develop the internal projects, which are now starting to pay for themselves. Through my Diggers With Gratitude music project, we’ve pressed previously unreleased music onto vinyl from iconic artists such as Tragedy, Marley Marl, Main Source, TDS Mob and a number of others. My Trashfilter magazine project has allowed me to work with brands such as adidas, Visvim, Porter and Sole Technology, which has been great. There are a couple of other things on the boil, but more on those later…

Sneaker-wise, I have sold a few things (mainly my still-boxed Hyperstrikes and promo pieces I’d accumulated) but picked up a few new things along the way. I have really liked the things that adidas have done with the ObyO project and also their skate range. I spent a week with the adidas guys in Portland in May, which was great. I interviewed Danny Kinley at adidas for Trashfilter and got to find out a bit more about the creative process behind the skate models, which was really interesting, and got to meet some of the other guys out there which was really cool. Scott, Brian, Jess, Mo, Joe Arrow, Peter Stolz and the rest of the Portland crew definitely keep things rolling!

At the time of writing, I’m particularly interested in the footwear that C-Law – Chris and the team at Addict – have just released. There are nods to a few other brands in there, but there’s enough originality and clever styling to make the range stand out. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in the flesh. I’ve also really liked some of the recent Nike releases – the Climbers pack had some great colours and materials (the Footscape Motions were a definite purchase for me) and I thought that the SB Dunk that Eric at Chrome Ball put together was one of the best collaborative releases in the past few years. Utilising the Airwalk Enigma colourway and the subtle graphic reference to the era of cutting down your high tops didn’t obscure the fact that this was simply a great looking shoe. The Sole Technology family has released some great stuff too – the Atiba project was very nicely done. I’m looking forward to watching what the Podium family (DVS, Lakai) bring out over the next few months as well.

One thing that did stand out recently was the work that Kelly Kikuta and the Gravis guys did on the Dylan Reider shoe release. Whether you loved or hated the shoe, I really thought it was a brave and interesting thing to do: letting a skater have free reign to do what he genuinely wanted is amazing. And the accompanying promo film by Greg Hunt… well… just watch that for yourselves. Amazing.

It’s easy to sit back and moan about ‘the state of the scene’, but I think things are still interesting enough to keep going. Trends do go in cycles, but I do think that instead of a being a passing fad, ‘sneaker culture’ has become properly ingrained in everyday life. I guess to many of us, it always was.

Images by Errol Photography