Growing up in an era when copping trainers meant taking long train rides and blowing a week’s wages, UK graff head/b-boy Mr Spite has seen it all. Super soaked in the first generation of hip hop culture, Spite became a permanent fixture in the scene, eventually becoming known for his Shelltoe obsession. He even rocked his beloved adidas three stripes (along with his groomsmen and incredibly understanding wife) at his wedding, making him officially the adidas Shelltoe Messiah! Thanks to our good mate Errol, we managed to score an exclusive look into his ridiculous collection and find out just what it is about the rubber capped kick that floats his boat.
G’day from Down Under Mr Spite, tell the kids at home a little about yourself….
I’m Andy from the UK, aged 37. I’m a true sneaker head when it comes to the one and only adidas Shelltoe. I’m married to my beautiful wife Sue. I’m an ageing B-Boy. Back in my prime I was into graffiti art. Now I’m a full-on collector of the adidas Superstar.
It seems like a pre-requisite that if you’re from the UK you’re either going to be into Puma or adidas. Why is that?
I think it has a lot to do with the early influences of music from RUN DMC, The Beastie Boys, LL COOL J and The Rock Steady Crew. They all wore Puma States or Shelltoes. It was a true mark of a B-Boy along with your name belt buckle and puffer jacket.
You chose the three stripes as your shoe of choice. What was it about the Shelltoe that had you hooked?
I’d have to say it was the simplicity of the shape, transformed only by a pair of fat laces to complete the look. It’s a ‘legend’ on your feet.
Everyone has a ‘first time coppin’ kicks’ story – what was yours and how did it set the foundation for your obsession?
At the age of 17, I was at college in South London. I had found out from a mate that a store in town was taking a big delivery. So I bunked off, jumped on the tube and stood and waited for the store to open. My whole week’s wages were spent on my ultimate pair of ‘Made in France’ adidas with white uppers and red stripes. They were worth every penny. I laced them with white fat laces – I was ready. Mr Spite was rocking!!
Do you ever wish you had it easier when it came to sourcing sneakers – how did you go about it back in the 80s and 90s?
I’ve never found hunting sneakers a chore. It’s a battle and a good one. If I’m out shopping, I will always look in different shops to see if there is something that catches my eye. That hasn’t changed from day one. But there are now far more Internet shops around, that of course, I’m spoilt for choice.
Having been there when the shoes actually first dropped, how do you feel about young cats today that cop and rock or build a collection without knowing the full knowledge of the history of the sneaker?
These young collectors are cool with me. As long as they stay humble and respectful of the older long-standing cats, it’s all good. It’s the idiots that jump on the bandwagon that collect to be cool that irritate me. But they come and they go. They always will.
What was the atmosphere like back in ’86 when you first saw Kurtis Blow and subsequently got heavy into the B-Boy movement?
I was only 14 years old and had been let loose to go to an event that I can still picture clearly to this day. The atmosphere was electric – breakdancers, beatboxers, rappers and DJs. ‘If I Ruled The World’ was the tune at that time. Kurtis Blow rocked. He was supported by The Cookie Crew and DJ Cheese. From a B-Boy point of view, I was hooked!
Speaking of the B-Boy movement, which came first – the love of sneakers or the culture attached to it?
Most definitely the culture! I was breakdancing and body popping in the school playground many years before. And later it was all about remembering every word from the ‘Licensed To Ill’ Beastie Boys album whilst playing ball games.
You were a graffer right? Tell us how you got the name Mr Spite and give us a bit of insight into what you were doing as part of the NTA crew – who was involved and just how prestigious was it to be part of the posse?
If I remember correctly, I was given the name Spite by a friend. It has no background meaning. I thought it sounded good. Being a writer was a great escape from normal life. I had a partner in crime, who went by the name ‘Pure’. We were kings in our local area. To get our names noticed, we joined a crew called ‘New Teen Arts’. We were unstoppable; we had all the best writers in our crew. Even now, you might still see an old ‘NTA’ throw up along the train line.
You’re also part of perhaps the only website dedicated to the love of the Shelltoe – SSDB (Superstar Data Base). How did that all begin and what goes down on the boards there?
This website was set up by a collector who came out the other side of the 35th release in love with the Superstar. Its an open forum discussing collections, new drops, future drops, every day stuff and hard to find shells. The members are all very helpful. The knowledge that we can give is always greatly received, but like any great forum, we do have rules! Come join in.
How did you guys feel about the 35th anniversary celebrations of the Shelltoe?
The project was a great success and still is. There were some interesting designs and some not so. There are still a couple of pairs that still haunt me. D-Mops and the Tates are my holy grail. One day! But there are a couple of pairs that I wouldn’t take for free – the ‘I Love Londons’ are true pony!
Was there a sense that it all came too late or that the brand had gone into overdrive, having already released so many colourways of the Shelltoe leading up to the project?
There will always be room for more. The music series must have been so popular. The Ian Browns, RUN DMC`s and RHCPs were the ones, in my eyes, that stood out from the crowd. Good quality leathers and designs go along way!!
So you have nothing other than Shelltoes in your collection? No other brand or style has taken your fancy and make your eye wander?
I can’t. I just can’t. As I said before they are ‘legends’. But there are plenty of other adidas I would rock and Pumas if I wasn’t Shelltoe-obsessed.
And are you joking – both your wife and yourself wore Shelltoes to your wedding? Most blokes run into problems with their better half when it comes to sneaker obsession – how does your wife deal?
My wife is very understanding, sometimes. Lets just leave it at that.
Massive thanks to Errol for the awesome images!