Last Friday, Bobbito Garcia took over a streetball court in the north of Cologne, Germany, to show the young'uns some of his tricks and moves from the B-Ball mainland. He then hosted a screening of his amazing NYC basketball documentary, Doin' It In The Park, and spun some proper vinyl records for the after-party at Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld. Sneaker Freaker Germany Managing Editor Daniel Giebel grabbed him for a few New York minutes to talk about his sneaker bible, 'Where'd You Get Those', and his future plans.
SF: Since today has been all about basketball so far, we'd like to talk shoes. Do you still follow what's happening in the sneaker scene today?
BG: I would say no. I'm an expert for the years 1960 to '87, but I can't tell you how many ASICS Ronnie Fieg has done … it's not that I don't care, it's just too much to keep up with. It's a lot, you know?! It's overwhelming. My angle with the whole thing is to be a historian, to be an advocate of people being creative with their footwear and sort of be an ambassador of the culture for the last 25 years.
I wrote an article for the Source magazine in 1991 called 'Confessions of a Sneaker Addict' – at that point I was an addict, I'm no longer an addict – and it was the first article in media history about sneaker culture. Right at that moment a lot of people saw me as their voice, and that has continued. I appreciate that respect.
My book came out in 2003, in 2013 I released a 10th anniversary edition, where we added a new cover and two new chapters and got a great response – you know, we introduced that part of sneaker history to a whole new generation. A lot of kids didn't know about my book! And now they're getting into it, getting it as a gift and they're blown away. All the old-timers who knew about it, they're buying a second copy for collector's purposes. I'm happy!
You should be – it's such a great book!
I'm appreciative of Sneaker Freaker too. I've known your founder Woody probably since 2006 when I did the press for the Kool Bob Love editions of the 25th anniversary Nike Air Force 1s. Woody came to New York, we knew each other via email, but met face to face only then, such a nice guy. We've stayed very cool since, I appreciate all that he's done, for the film he wrote a big article, and he's just a good dude. And I love the fact that my book and his publication started around the same time.
Here in Europe, running shoes are all the rage, while in the US it still seems to be mostly about Jordans and basketball. Do you see that changing, with people like Ronnie Fieg and all the running silhouettes?!
You gotta understand – basketball in New York is number one. It's the most influential sport and the most influential culture in the last 60 years.
Bigger than hip hop?!
Oh, absolutely! People might argue with me about what I just said, but it's the most consistently influential thing. Hip Hop is no longer really influential. It peaked in 1993, 1994. It hasn't really been creative in a very long time. Whereas basketball continues to evolve, to be influential, and to be a really high energy in the city. And so, when it comes to sneakers, that's the leader. In New York, kids take their cues from basketball. That's changing, of course, it's shifting. People have Sneaker Freaker, they have websites, they know what releases are coming out. But even if you look at the high fashion sneakers – they're all based on basketball silhouettes, like the Kanye sneaker. Basketball still has that cachet for sneaker culture. But, you know, I've always loved running shoes – and I'm a ball player tried and true. But even when I was a kid, running shoes looked cool to me.
But you don't see them on the courts, do you?
Sometimes. It happens. But it's New York, people may play in boots – get off from work, don't have time to go home, there's a game, so they play in Timberlands, you know!
So, what's next in stock for Kool Bob Love?
I want to tell you about two, no, three collaborations that I have coming up in the future: The first may be too early to even talk about but it's worth a small mention – I am doing an apparel line in collaboration with Patta from Amsterdam. We're doing T-shirts, long sleeves and sweat shirts. There is no third party involved, just Patta and Bobbito. Those are in the works right now, we're just finalizing the designs.
And I have a shoe collaboration coming out with Piola, a tiny shoe brand out of France that got started two, three years ago. They have really cool shapes, great quality, the rubber is sourced from independent farmers in Peru, and the leather comes from Portugal, where the manufacturing is done too. Very high quality, beautiful shoes. That's going to be an original design, it's not an existing model that I'm giving fabrics and colours to – we're creating a model from scratch. That should have happened ten, twenty years ago. But back then no brand was thinking like that, so I'm happy that Piola approached me with the idea, and we'll take it home from there. And then, in 2015, I've got a sneaker collaboration coming out with Puma!
How do collaborations like these come about? Do people just hit you up?
With Patta, I actually reached out to them. I love what they do. I respect what they do so much. I have done multiple apparel collaborations, dating back to the 90s when I did something with Ecko for the Stretch and Bobbito radio show. But I reached out to Patta and asked if we could do something together. Edson and I are very great friends, Gee and the whole staff over there – everybody's excited! I haven't even mentioned it in the media yet, so there you go – a Sneaker Freaker first!