First up, major props for taking out the coveted Best Sneaker Shop in the national New Zealand rag Metro Magazine. Explain to the kids at Sneaker Freaker just what a big deal that is, especially to a store only opened for the last 6 months.
Thanks Mafia – it came as a bit of a surprise, as the Metro Magazine awards are quite highly regarded amongst businesses here in Auckland. Actually, who am I kidding – it was a stupendous shock. It’s a public user/reader nominated award which is then judged by Metro’s editors every year, and at the end of the year they select winners over a whole bunch of categories. Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city and competition gets pretty fierce round these parts, so it was just incredible to see such an accolade so soon… a lot of the other category winners have been around for years - it’s mind-numbing. I mean, we’re totally stoked and more importantly - humbled by the whole thing, as we trumped the previous winner who had taken that category over the past few years… still, much respect to the stores who have been doing their thing for years though. The most rewarding aspect of the experience was to know that even Joe public was feelin’ what we were trying to achieve, and not only the streetwear/sneaker faithful. Incredible.
It’s been a massive year for Qubic. Just how insane has this year been for your store and what is it like to see the dream becoming a reality?
Shit, I almost crashed my car when I was told about the award. No joke, haha. It’s just been completely craze. Man I don’t even know how to begin to describe how this year has been, it’s just surpassed every single expectation we had of getting Qubic up and going and bringing our vision to the NZ and global peeps. There’s something about creating something out of nothing that brings such a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment… to know that you’re treading the way for others to follow and venturing into unmarked territory. It’s pretty cool.
You guys seemed to have done everything right with this new store. Just how painstaking was the process to get it from plans to off the ground and then to now as already an award winning sneaker store?
Haha, truth be told, it wasn’t an easy path. I’ll be honest; there were plenty of hurdles that we needed to get over to see our vision turn into a reality – both before and after we opened, and not just physical hurdles. There were also entities out there who tried making it as difficult as they could for us, but I won’t get into it. In a way I think we’re lucky that we’re incredibly passionate about what it is that we were trying to achieve, because it’s gotten us through a lot. That’s the ugly side of the industry that people don’t tell you about. We kept our heads down, made the right decisions, and just kept at it. It’s nice to see that through all that hard work we’ve been able to achieve what we set out to accomplish. We tend to let our actions speak as opposed to our words.
Speaking of Sneaker Pimps, it’s a major coup for you guys and also for Peter Fahey with his travelling band of sneakers. How many sexual favours did that set you back to get Pete over?
Well, there was this one time I was with Pete in Vegas…. Haha jokes, jokes. No, Pete was feelin’ our space and our vision and then we started talking back and forth about the possibility of bringing the show back to NZ in its current form. When we met in person it seemed like we thought along the same lines, so it just clicked. It took a while for us to settle on a date and confirm the gig but we got there in the end. Eh, Pete? Haha. We also got a bit of a helping hand from JB and Miss Mdot from the JB camp, so much love to them too. Now we’re all just amped about the show happening. Pete just told me the other day he was psyched about coming here too so we’re all looking forward to a gigantic night on the 7th. It’s going to be super craze.
What can the peeps expect from the shows considering the international shows have been absolutely incredible with big name celebrities attaching themselves to the tours. Did we hear correct in that Futura will be making his way down?
Yup, we managed to convince Futura to come down these parts and check out what NZ has to offer in the art and street culture scenes… it’s kinda cool that he’s doing a lot of travelling nowadays and we’re hoping he’s going to enjoy what New Zealand has to show, in art, street culture and the country itself. I’m telling ya, the air and water here is priceless… haha. On the flipside people from all facets of street culture here are psyched about him coming too, from our biggest graffiti writers to art collectors to sneaker fans. I mean, just thinking of all the things he’s pioneered in art and then influenced is mind boggling… Aside from that the Sneaker Pimps show is just next level compared to anything that has ever happened here in the past – I mean, are you serious, there are close to 1000 sneakers heading our way for the show. That’s like seeing 1/3 of Clark Kent’s collection. Yes, it’s that big. Haha. That, and there’s a huge afterparty after in Auckland city featuring some of NZ’s best local hip hop talent. Bananas.
You’re an accomplished sneaker customizer yourself and have now banded together with SBTG and Republic to release a limited run (12 pairs) of Dunk Highs including a jazzy shemagh designed by yourself and also a t-shirt. What was the occasion for this and how did you con SBTG into hand painting 12 shoes? Couldn’t you have done it yourself, lazy ass hahaha, jokes jokes? How did that come about and give us the background on that.
Are you friggin’ kidding me? Paint 12 pairs of shoes even close to SBTG’s level? Haha. No, Mark is someone I think that has been incredibly iconic and pioneering the sneaker ‘medium’ as a recognized art form to the general populace. I dunno how it is elsewhere, but here it’s still seen as bit of a gimmick as opposed to a medium. I still remember buzzing out over his work many years ago and then seeing someone as talented as he picked for a shoe design project with Nike just made sense, which is probably what led to the wild success of his Dunk Lo SB last year. Mark put forward the idea for the project a little after we opened, he was feelin’ what we were doing so we just built the idea from there. It took a little over three months from start to finish – not that long compared to your normal collaborative project, but when we finally put the three items together – the shoe, print, and shemagh; it was a pretty cool experience. I have to say though, working design with someone four hours behind your time zone doesn’t allow for much sleep. Haha
If that wasn’t enough, you’re also the admin director on NZ’s best Sneaker Forum and answer to Sneaker Freaker, Sole Jam. How important is having Sole Jam and bruz, when do you find time to sleep?
Sleep? I can sleep standing up like a vampire… haha. Solejam existed well before we even thought of Qubic, and it was just something I wanted to do at the time to get all the local sneaker and streetwear heads in one place to talk about what we enjoy. I think in a way it reminds us as well just why we’re doing what we do – to support the community and always bring something next level and groundbreaking to these peeps. Through it we’ve also been able to introduce a lot more people into the scene and educate them on all the finer details that sometimes aren’t mentioned – the differing quality in denim, shoe construction, garment construction, materials, and give them a better understanding of the industry on the whole. Product education is definitely something that I personally think we don’t see enough of in this industry, so we’re trying our best to fill in the holes instead of just putting brand names in front of people. Oh, and we’ve got our team of moderators now so they look after the forums when I’m not there. Big ups guys.
How will you top yourself next year considering the banging year you have had in ’07?
Well, I guess we’re just going to have to keep chugging along and doing what we do. I’ve found that if you do things right, opportunities tend to appear as the global community starts to recognise what you’re doing, so long as it’s real. 2007 has been awesome for us and it’s going to be an uphill challenge to keep up the pace, stay ahead and set the benchmark over and over again. Then again, that’s what they said before we opened too…
Give us a quick run down of what we can expect from Qubic in the future and how do you see yourself expanding your business and keeping this level of success up and taking it to the next level?
Phew, in 2008 we’ll have more design projects on the go with some of the brands we represent in store, people who have evolved from people that we do business with to being friends and our extended family from all over the world. For the store itself we’re going to be introducing a wider mix of higher-end, boutique apparel collections because I think that’s the next level, to look past the graphic design and appreciate fabrics, cuts, something to cater for the mature streetwear aficionado. On the gallery front, we want to run more shows, similar to the incredible “Watch This Space” show that we just opened the other day with Askew, Elliot F Stewart, and Misery, and on the Republic front, to work with more talented local and international artists and designers. I really do believe that New Zealand is overlooked a lot of the time, and it’s our time to stand up now in street art, fashion, and culture. There’s a lot of potential here that goes unrealised a lot of the time. I hope to showcase some of this to the world.
What will be stuffed in your stocking this Xmas?
Geesh, I dunno. A Supreme account? ;)