JB CLASSICS has been around for six years making waves in the competitive foot wear scene, explain how the concept for the line came about and what, if any, difficulties you ran into, creating a new shoe in a market dominated by Nike and Adidas.
JB: It started out of an interest to fulfill a void in the industry, to build a creative powered, expressive based footwear lifestyle company that would be completely independent & design driven and allow it to naturally grow & shape its way around the surface of what we now refer to as today’s sneaker - street culture. For the first few years just living and surviving on creating something, which I was passionate about was sound enough and a complete miracle in my mind. The most difficult thing about this period of time, was overcoming the fact that I had zero training in footwear design or the footwear industry. However this lead us in a direction of our own in the long run, and a very clear understanding that giants will live with giants, we strive to walk our own paths at our own pace with our own vision and our funk.
Mdot: We always keep moving, stay nimble, keep pushing..daily. Because we are in an industry saturated with mega giants & mini mega corporations, we can react quicker and also take advantage of the speed to market element. As for difficulties, yeah, people react funny to independence, especially when they are not a part of the movement. Best part, I have gained more knowledge than many do in years of schooling & having no footwear development experience only made it more exciting and eventful. Everyday is a different day, we are making history along the way.
Many folks in Oz and maybe abroad are unaware that the label is actually a collaborative effort with JB and female artist/designer Mdot. How did this relationship come to fruition?
JB: It started as a friendship. We meet in San Francisco in 2003, one thing led to the next and we began to co-direct the brands vision together around 2004 and haven’t looked back since.
Mdot: We’ll, we met at a photo show titled, “Who Shot Ya” in San Francisco, CA back in 2003. We had great conversations, then started working together, and just really joined forces…it’s pretty dope!
Having a female voice in creating a shoe must be a first, considering that the lines that Nike and Adidas are bringing out have obviously been thought up by a group of men, thinking what a woman would like to wear. How has Mdot’s vision helped cross gender borders for JB Classics?
JB: This is a complete no-brainier in my mind and very very successful, She has the creative knowledge & energy on all sides and with all facets, and has been behind the IRON CURTAIN personally many times to actually see how products materialize, which is so key & priceless for any designer while designing; as well as the understanding of how CBS’s are calculated, how materials are sourced, how patterns are graded, how BP’s are molded & developed, how Q/C lines run, how packaging lines run, overseeing and setting vessel schedules, dealing with custom brokers, duty charges, 20- 40 foot container bullshit. To be honest the list of hands-on experiences are endless, not to mention dealing with the factoring company & design / development and sales managing. Her vision of the cross gender range, in the coming seasons will become it’s own complete female line, and this is only the beginning. We are both blessed to be working at something that we love to do.
Mdot: Firstly, thanks to Mr. Bass for the kind words and respect. I’d like to add, I create what I want to wear. I have been aware of this frustrating element for years, actually since age 7. Not only in athletic footwear companies, yet in many product industries, a group of men create for female lines and miss it. No one’s taking design risks because they don’t know what females want or don’t due to their research to begin with. In the most recent collections, still not released in stores, I have added a lot high fashion inspired touches with classic color-ways. I really am not afraid to take material risks, basically in my mind, if its been applied to a product, there’s a way to apply it on sneakers/footwear in a appealing manner. At worst we just end up with a lot of back and forth development emails with the factory to make it happen.
The most anticipated release from JB Classics is the Kid Robot x Tilt Peddler collaboration, which was featured in SNKRFRKR last month as a teaser to the drop. When you collaborate with such artists what is the process from idea to finished product?
Mdot: Most important, we all stay on the same page, and the lines of communication are wide open. It starts with their vision on our template’s, like the graphic artwork and overall color direction. We apply as much details into the first round sample, so we can see all ideas materialized and then eliminate what’s not needed. So it doesn’t come off over designed too, we all know what I ‘m talking about! Then we send our revisions to the factory and make a second sample, usually it all comes together then, if that’s the case, then we set production numbers and talk costing, stress to the factory to pay close attention to Tilt’s custom artwork during the printing process then days later, checking vessel schedules, clearing customs and landing the final product.
There are a number of luscious materials used on this one shoe, including perforated leathers, mesh, not to mention the amazing Tilt splash image on the heel panels. Is there a story behind each fabric you use because I know you like your shoes to be “a walking journal”
Mdot: With this particular project, we handled all details for the material make-up. We collectively wanted to make this peddler model light-weight, so we incorporated air-mesh on the quarter panels, and added perforated details on the tongue & heel tab. Since, we use many lush materials on our kicks, all the leather details are full-grain leather. As for the specially designed Tilt graphic, this definitely helped us when applying a visual balance with accent colors throughout the sneaker.
You have recently released pics of the 3M Hexsell Plated Model, what else can we expect from the Lab of JB?
JB: I’ve attached some photo’s from The Leary Collection, releasing for the holiday season, ( Mid - November 2007 ) We are also introducing The Prime Label this year, the label has been designed & developed to reach key target pricing and will be produced in larger quantities to be more assemble to those outlets which are unable to buy our Premium Collectable range.
I hear through the grapevine that there will be a luggage line coming out under the JB Classics Lab imprint, designed and executed by Mdot – any truth to this rumour?
Mdot: Yes..yes!! It’s in R&D stages right now. I do a lot of travelling, and see a huge void in the luggage industry. Not just that so many bags are alike, I notice so many travel accessories that don’t exist, which would make my travels a little more convenient and fresh. So with that said, it only makes sense for us to continue the lifestyle extensions. Stay tuned…2008 it’s on!
Your motto is “Swift, Silent, Deadly” which is very close to an in joke we have in Oz about flatulence, but explain to us exactly what you guys mean.
JB: It’s partly influenced by the great old Sink Bomb Phrase and partly a word for word breakdown below:
Swift –moving or able to move very quickly. We are a very small mobile company, that utilizes our speed to market daily.
Silent – not speaking or communicating, especially through choice. We work and communicated with those we cross paths with and share a similar vision.
Deadly – to emphazine the intensity of something. We strive to build products that push boundaries from collection to collection.
How do you maintain fresh ideas in this day and age of blogging and hype where nothing is sacred?
JB: Yah its pretty crazy these days, but a fresh idea should be just that and hold its ground no matter what the variables are… Nowadays, it’s hard to find value in many things, there is so much more hype surrounding products. Individualities seem to be ruled by IP addresses which is really pretty strange when you think about how sacred some of these products or projects are to the creators. At any rate blog’s are a easy way for a globally community to view each others works, interests and learn from, in general they connect the global community virtually and are a great marketing tool. I suppose the hype side of things always get tested over time and sorts it’s self out in long run. I’m hoping more sites will focus on telling stories and educating the younger scene, rather than building more platforms about selling products. Either way we will continue to walk our own paths and meet great people along the way….
Mdot: As cliché as it sounds, it’s simple taking inspiration from anything and everything.
If you produce what you want to produce, you stand by your creations, and it comes off that way in the end product. As for Hype, it’s where we are at, as a society these days. Definitely, it will become more enhanced and bionic, before it slows down. We live in a product circus era, people want things updated & now, and company’s are here to take their money, and then we report on it every milla-second…it’s crazy!
Where do you see JB Classics Lab as a brand going into the next couple of years, do you think the sneaker game will still be creating this huge buzz?
JB: I’ve been hearing this same question, since day one, like Edgar. R. Fiedler would say “He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.” I’m not a trend forecaster nor do I care to be. Though it is interesting, it’s seems like the sneaker culture is only growing stronger and extending it reach deeper & deeper into other existing genre’s creating more influenced with the help of internet & websites, feeding the buzz to every corner of the planet. If anything it will become more commercialized just like many past interests of urban culture. Our brand will only continue to grow and mature, our pipelines are jammed packed with projects for the next 24 months.
Mdot: An all around machine, with many COGS that feed off each other. Really -just the full scope of the lifestyle. As for the sneaker game, it’s not going anywhere. It’s been an under-belly industry for years, many people have old childhood memories of sneakers, which was an extension of their personality growing up. The mega giants started to pay attention and capitalized on it. Kept feeding to the consumers new releases, week after week, all the way down to monopolizing the market. I hear horror stories from retailers, and it sounds a bit mafia to me…
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