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A World of Pure Imagination: Argo Concepts Interview

Date: April 22 2018

By: Matt Williams

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What if BAPE collaborated on Tom Sach's Mars Yard Shoe? Or Jeff Staple brought the 'Pigeon' to the SF Air Force 1? These are the sorts of questions that keep Cam Stewart up at night. 

More than just fleeting thoughts, the inquisitive designer puts his Photoshop skills to work under the name Argo Concepts, bringing them to life for the world to see. We caught up with Cam to discuss the life of a customiser in the digital realm.

What sparked your curiosity in sneakers?
I’ve always had an appreciation for sneakers, but it was the Huarache NM that prompted me to delve deeper into the footwear and streetwear scene. The new designs were just so imaginative and I really wanted to contribute to the culture somehow. So I started playing around with kicks in Photoshop and manipulating them with 3D software. I created a pair of ‘Moonrock’ Yeezy BOOST 350s that I had equipped with a Y-3 Retro BOOST sole and the rest just snowballed from there. It was a pretty simple sole swap really, but it still looks good looking back on it now.

What was the first shoe to really get you noticed?
It was the Staple x UltraBOOST concept for sure. I couldn’t tell you what it was about that concept that made it stand out, but people absolutely loved it. I went from getting around 90 likes on my concepts to getting over 2000 on the Staple one. I remember sitting at my desk in shock as the notifications kept rolling in — it was non-stop! 

You’ve come a long way since then. What design has had the biggest response?
Definitely the Yeezy BOOST 350 v2 I created using ECCO transparent leather. It gained some serious traction and ended being featured in some pretty big online magazines everywhere from Mexico to China! I would say it took off because it challenged the physical make-up of the shoe — it didn’t just add collaboration credentials to a popular silhouette. I actually have some of that leather at home. It truly has to be seen to be believed!

How has your approach evolved since you first began?
When I was starting out, I was doing pretty minor stuff like changing colours and swapping soles, mostly just for kicks that I liked. Since then, I have become more involved in the streetwear scene and stay pretty up to date with it. Having that information keeps the concepts relevant to what's going on at that point in time.

The other major change is that I now put an emphasis on just sitting down and getting the work done, rather than waiting for a good idea. If there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that you can never guess which concept is going to do well. There have been some I have done that I wasn’t happy with personally, but they were really well received by the community.

You often use your concepts as an opportunity to mash up existing sneakers with style cues taken from hype entities and trends. How necessary is hype to be noticed in the modern sneaker scene?
There is no doubt that the notoriety of the brands used impacts the concept’s success. This was really great starting out, because those hyped brands were the ones that I was most familiar with and that helped me gain traction relatively quickly. As I learned more about different brands, my personal taste changed and so did my concepts. At the moment, I try to keep a balance between hype, my own taste, and collaborations with other artists.

You always make it clear that your works are digital creations only. How often does your inbox get flooded with sneakerheads wanting to buy your concept creations?
Daily! [Laughs] People from all over the globe message me asking for prices on specific concepts and are disappointed, yet understanding, when I tell them they are only digital renderings. The dream is to make these concepts a reality and that is definitely something I am working towards.

We saw that you had a crack at hand-making your own shoe from scratch — for real this time! What effect has that experience had on your concept designs?
I have made about five pairs now, with each one turning out better than the last. It’s great to be able to see that progression. It’s a huge shift from working with a purely digital medium where the design only needs to look good from one angle.

The real thing needs to look good from all angles, be comfortable, and well made.

It’d be impossible to recreate many of your concepts with traditional techniques. If you had the opportunity to make one of your concepts a reality, which one would you choose?
This is a tough one. It would probably have to be the ACRONYM x adidas UltraBOOST Mid. ACRONYM is one of my favourite brands to use as inspiration. They have a very clear, consistent design style that translates across to footwear really well. 

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