Interview: A$AP Ferg Talks Sneaker Nostalgia and Working with Kanye!
When A$AP Ferg rolled through Sneaker Freaker ahead of his sold out show at Melbourne’s 170 Russell last night, we couldn’t help but stare directly at the molten lava Yeezy Foam Runners he was rocking. These joints were seriously hot in the flesh! We sat down with the Harlem native and spat some quick questions at him, discussing why it was important to pay homage to the Harlem legend Dapper Dan, what it’s like working with Kanye West, and his current deal with adidas. Dive in!
Tell us about these molten lava Yeezy Foam Runners you’re rocking!
They’re so comfortable! They remind me of when Tinker was making all the crazy Jordans, and the sneaker world fell in love with these spaceship-looking shoe designs. Shit look like boats and cars, all in different colours. That’s what Kanye’s sneakers are to me, this shit is the best sneakers in the game right now!
Was this pair a gift from Kanye?
Yeah! I’ve been working with him in the studio lately. I’ve seen a lot of his stuff in the making... It’s crazy!
What are some of the silhouettes you’re rocking at the moment?
I’ve been wearing a lot of original silhouettes lately, but I’m also trying to break into some more futuristic shit. Growing up it was all about flexing the colours, but everybody was scared to flex pink and aquas and things like that! That’s what I’m on.
What inspires you to try out new trends?
It’s through my community of friends. The conversation is always about fly jiggy shit! Whether that be talking about clothes and sharing different opinions in our group chats. Which is how my relationship with adidas started. I was tagging along with A$AP Rocky to a meeting, and adidas kept an eye on my development as an artist after that. They started investing in me early on. Giving me gigs and providing space for my listening parties. Then they hit me with the big deal, a two-year contract! They could tell the music was going to keep coming out, the hits, the bangers, they wanted to be a part of that.
Can you tell us about your process when working with adidas?
Right now I don’t have a specific shoe or colab coming up. My first shoes were actually skateboarding shoes. This was just when I was starting off, so I didn’t really have the luxury of choosing which silhouettes I wanted to work with, or building my own mode. But it was just a dope experience because they gave me the silhouette and basically the first shoe was inspired by Dapper Dan. I did the all-over monogram print paying homage to him. And the second one was inspired by Still Striving, which was my project at the time. I had the ‘Hood Pope’ lyrics because that’s one of my favourite songs that I’ve made. I put the lyrics on the laces because I’d never seen that before!
Why was it important for you to pay homage to Dapper Dan?
Dapper Dan was my father’s mentor. My father would go to his shop asking questions about silk screen and different mediums to work with in fashion. When my father passed away, I went looking for Dap. I didn’t know what he looked like, I just knew his name. I remember seeing an interview he did with Pee Wee Kirkland, and I was like, oh this is what that looks like. Then I saw him one day, it was actually across the street from his brownstone house in Harlem. Ever since then we just been cool. This was before the whole Gucci thing. Dapper Dan is 72 years old, I’m 31. So if we didn’t have that bridge between generations, we wouldn’t be able to learn about our lineage. Dap is so open-minded, he’s willing to just know what the young kids are doing, that’s why he just fits into the scene so perfectly.
Do you think the sneaker world has changed since your earlier years?
For sure. It’s a just service now, it’s like Google. People don’t want the story anymore, because they can just Google it. We’re not exercising that portion of our brain, that discovery, that thing that made your dopamine go off. The discovery of the ‘Oh shit, I found this’ is something completely different for Generation Z. They discover sneakers on the Internet, and it’s so controlled but they don’t know how it was for us. They don’t know the difference.
Do you think that younger generations should try and look for these stories a bit more?
I think this generation is going to do whatever they want to do. And I can’t tell this generation how to be. I wasn’t trying to hear it when people told me ‘Oh, don’t do hair cuts in your hair. Don’t hang out in SoHo, don’t go to fashion shows. Don’t wear skinny jeans. Don’t wear fucking whatever!’ We weren’t listening to our parents. So it’s not my place to tell them how to rule their generation. Thank god they allow me to be a part of it. This is the new generation, and they run it the way they want to run it!
Thanks to A$AP Ferg and crew for dropping by, and also for the tickets to the very lit show. SSSHHHABBA!