Wes Tyerman is the epitome of living the sneaker dream. Born and bred in the UK, Wes found his foot in the door at London’s premier sneaker spot Offspring in the early 2000s. Not content with working for the big guns of the UK scene, Wes migrated to a coveted spot on the Foot Patrol team, sharpening his design skills and contributing to some killer collabs. With an impending decline in sneaker sales and the imminent closure of the once-revered boutique, brands fought for Tyerman’s finesse, with Nike scoring his services for their 1948 campaign. These days you can find Wes managing the concepts behind some of your favourite adidas Originals drops. We took time out to find out more and delve deeper into his 1000 strong sneaker collection!
Hey Wes, give us a little rundown into who exactly Wes Tyerman is…
As a kid growing up I was always into sport, like watching a lot of football and basketball. I studied fashion and worked in the industry for a couple of years. Whilst starting out on my own collection in the early 2000s, a friend offered me work at Offspring in Covent Garden. I guess it snowballed from there…
When were you first fascinated with sneakers and what was it about them that captured your heart?
My mum says she remembers me drawing trainers when I was four but I can’t really remember that. But I do remember going to Olympus Sports when I was six or seven and just spending ages in there looking at the different shoes. I spent longer in there than I did in Hamleys.
What was that first pair that sent your collection into a knee spin?
I think it was a Jordan V after I had left Uni in 1999 and had some money in my pocket. It was the first time I could afford two pairs at the same time so I had a fresh pair, as I always wore most of my kicks down to the ground.
Tell us how you got involved with working at Offspring then moving onto Foot Patrol?
A friend of mine worked at Offspring in Covent Garden and he knew I was really into my sneakers so he offered me a job. I went from there to Size? and back. After a break I got a call from the guys at Foot Patrol where I went from part-time to Buyer to Store Manager.
Did you have a hand in creating and designing everyone’s favourite Foot Patrols – the Nike Air Stabb or the polka dot ‘90s?
The beautiful thing about Foot Patrol was the design process at that time. Everyone was so deeply into the casual wear culture along with everyone having come from a design or sneaker background. It was a melting pot of ideas and a true collective. Arranging the launch day was one of the most fun parts as well. It was always a perfect ending.
It must have been an exciting time for you guys working at such a revered sneaker spot in the ‘golden age’ of sneaker collecting. What were some of the highlights for you?
I think we all enjoyed the drops the most. The amount of effort we used to put in, and then to see everyone having a laugh after queuing overnight meant we’d done a good job. We used to get people traveling from everywhere. It was always good to speak with like-minded people from other countries.
What eventually was the downfall of the store?
The sneaker game now is getting really hard, I mean, anyone can open up a sneaker shop. Add to that, top line product was getting really watered down. At the end of the day we were a small independent store.
Was it difficult to find something after the store folded or were you already working with brands even back then on a freelance basis?
I was writing for Dazed towards the last days of Foot Patrol. So this continued until I was approached by Nike for the 1948 project in Shoreditch.
Wicked. Tell us about how that all came about.
I got a call from Acyde when they were starting to put the project together. We went over everything to help the shop become a unique space for the Olympics. I helped view the space, buy the stock – the necessities for a shop to run. Really just everyday management of the store.
Did this pose a ‘conflict of interest’ with your work at adidas?
No, adidas rang me when I was at Nike to see if I would come for an interview. The job was a creative role at Originals. Nike understood that this was my background and it was a great opportunity for me.
When did you become involved with adi as their Originals Concepts Manager? What does a Concepts Manager actually do?
I jumped on board in 2008 just after I finished working with Nike on the 1948 project. The role of a Concepts Manager is to analyse the market and trends, choose your silhouettes and work the concepts of the shoe. I was working with colab and non-colab designs, so I had to work out the guidelines if partners were involved through to the final shoe and sales sectors. Most importantly, I had to work on the relationships with said partners. I worked on the Rod Laver project through to the adicup 2010 range. It was a great experience and I had a fun time getting to work and speak to people throughout the whole business. On top of that, meeting legends like Markus Thaler (he is god).
Not only that you’re also a design consultant for adidas – quite a nice resume you have going there!
Working in the scene for a long time helps. Like any scene, you’re not in it long if you don’t know your shit. I mainly help different areas keep up with trends and reach new consumers.
All these amazing positions you’ve held within brands must stack up to a nice crisp collection! How many sneakers deep are you now?
Before my son was born it was over 1000 but I’ve had to make some room so it’s about 600-700 now. I really want to get it to about 75-100 pairs of must-haves.
What are some of the stand out pieces in your collection?
I like my old bits like my Nike Zoom Flight 95s, Huaraches, Air Bakins. Things I remember being hyped on when they first came out. I have some bits like the Clot Air Max 1 and the Neighborhood Super 50th and they’re cool, but the ones that pull on my heart strings have to be the bits I remembered when I was young playing sport and have been lucky enough to pick up again.
Do you think you’ll hold onto them all? Is there any desire out there still for limited edition sneakers?
The times where trainers would retail for £90 and resale the next day at £500+ are over. The fact we wore our shoes and bought doubles meant the amounts were always depleting. People nowadays buy trainers to make money instead of for the love of the shoe.
What is the scene like in the UK?
Well the sneaker bubble certainly popped. The market is flooded with so many shoes these days. It’s not how it was when there used to be one or two nice shoes out a year. Nowadays there’s six or seven all right ones a month. It’s watered down, sorry to say, but the consumer has too much choice.
How do you feel about the new Foot Patrol opening? Do you have any ties to the new store?
I’m glad it didn’t die. I had a lot of good times there but the time comes where you have to move on and do what’s best. I don’t have any ties to the new store. But there maybe a little something coming out, so keep your eyes open.
Oh word! Where can we find you these days? What are you working on?
I’m back in good old London town. I’m working on a few things – a concept for adidas Originals icons stores and a couple of the iconic Consortium partners. I’m also working on some bits with U-Dox, which are top secret. And I just started working with SNCL – it’s a clothing range with graphics alongside with the artist Reilly. There’s some real stand out pieces in the range.
What’s up next for you?
Work, work and more work. The thing with Reilly is really exciting and I think that could be really big. His art is unreal. Oh and lots of play with my son and watching proper football again.
Photos by Errol