From the mosaic madness of Gaudi to the surreal stylings of Miró, Barcelona’s own 24 Kilates have acknowledged their hometown’s architectural forefathers with their recent NB collaborations. The store’s head honcho Pol took time out of his recovery from Bread & Butter to give us the low-down on the European love of art and footwear, express his shock at Nike and tells us the three things that make Spain what it is!
Hey Pol, how are things going in Barcelona? Has the city calmed down after the buzz and mayhem of Bread and Butter?
Day by day you can see Barcelona is experimenting a constant evolution. People used to come and go but the vibe this city gives the visitors now makes more and more of them stay. Barcelona is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world now so that means this is the hot-spot to be right now! Bread and Butter’s week has been hectic and a bit chaotic but it’s been definitely good for networking. Now we’re back to normality but it’s been great for sure. It’s been magnificent to see so many members of the industry here. BBB is perfect to meet new people and see old friends and also to expand the 24 Kilates vision of the streetwear scene.
With the release of the Spanish version of Sneaker Freaker, have you seen more peeps getting into sneaker collecting? Is the scene healthy in Barcelona?
Of course the Spanish version of Sneaker Freaker has helped a lot. Every time we see more people interested in sneakers, that’s why we released our first collaboration with New Balance, the Modernism Pack, in a time that nothing much was going on in Barcelona. There were people sleeping at the front of door of our shop to buy the pack and 70 per cent of them were locals! Something like this wasn’t even imaginable three years ago. Regarding your second question, in every city there’s fair and not as fair competition but 24 Kilates always tries to get along with everyone and to have fun with every single individual at anytime. Let’s put it this way, we try to add positivity to the sneaker scene by integrating people to our circle. That helps the industry to go a step further.
How is the brand perceived in Europe compared to the rest of the sneaker companies bombarding shelves with product?
We’ve always liked New Balance because a century after its creation they keep offering top class products, including both US and UK handmade. No brand out there can display this kind of CV. And despite that they don’t show off with huge advertising campaigns, they just stick to the quality of their goods and designs.
Your first shoe paid homage to the legendary architecture of Antoni Gaudi, inspired by the mosaic sculptures he erected around Barcelona. It forced our culture to buckle down and become more versed in Spanish art and architecture. How well received was it worldwide?
I can summarize how it was by telling you this great story. A Japanese girl turned up in the store a week after we released it because her husband sent her to buy the Modernism Pack for him. But she wasn’t living in Barcelona or even on holidays. She flew specifically from Japan to purchase it! Luckily for her, the New Balance guys had five pairs in storage and she could get one of those, because we sold everything out the first day.
When you were approached to do the NB 1700 collaboration did you immediately have the idea to showcase Antoni Gaudi’s infamous work on the shoe?
Since the first day we opened 24 Kilates we had the idea to develop our own ideas in it. But definitely we didn’t want to do that in a random way. We wanted to stay original but without forgetting our roots and culture. It was very important for us to show a world of creation and evolution to the sneaker world that Barcelona has and a background which can be totally linked to modern life, to the current streetwear scene. Gaudi and New Balance were innovators and we didn’t want to stay away from that, we actually stuck to that concept.
Was there always an intent to drop another shoe shortly after, highlighting another celebrated figure of Spanish architecture, Joan Miró?
Our collaboration with NB is not a short term thing. Gaudi was part of a project, and Miró is in it as well. It was like our Holy Trinity: Gaudí, Miró and Dalí – three masters of our culture, three reference points of our environment.
Where you guys taken aback to realise that Nike had used the same artist to collaborate, in a sense, on their Women’s Air Jordan 7? Did this anger you?
To be honest, I was quite shocked when the news came to me. I mean, I wasn’t very angry but definitely surprised because my sample was coming at the same time of that shoe’s release. But I reckon ours will look much nicer!
There have been references to Miró's work popping up lately, for example in the Nike shoes as mentioned above and also becoming immortalised in The Simpsons, where there is a statue of Miró's on the campus of Springfield University. What do you think is the appeal of Joan Miró's artwork on today’s pop culture and especially in the sneaker game?
We hadn’t seen Miró’s artwork on sneakers before. That’s why we came with the idea of releasing this shoe. 24 Kilates, as purely innovators in this scene, wanted to include Miró in our ambitious project because he’s been everywhere in the world in many ways (exhibitions, films, etc) but never in the sneaker scene. I think that’s a reasonably big contribution to Miró’s current impact on today’s culture.
There was a teaser for the new Joan Miró New Balance 1500 on display at Bread and Butter. Tell us about some of the features of the shoe and how you are representing Miró's work?
I don't think it was a teaser, it was already a reality. We were lucky we could have the sample and that saved our reputation, hehehe. Regarding the features, it’s important to point out that Miró has two distinctive subjects: his surrealism and the use of the basic colours of the whole spectrum. We decided to manipulate those colours but using a black background, taking in consideration the surrealism mentioned above. The shoe, which combines perforated leather and suede, reaches its harmony when it’s seen from a distance. The attractiveness of this sneaker comes from a mixture of basic colours and surrealism – a mixture that provides its own sense for itself.
When and where can we expect these beauties to drop?
It’s always complicated to match the schedule but we expect them to be ready for the next Bread and Butter in spring.
What’s next on the horizon for 24 Kilates?
If you mean what is our next project, I can also tell you one steady thing, we want to keep moving with the happiness that our country and culture has inspired us to do. Sun, women and wine, that’s all Spain is about, isn’t it?
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