ARTICLE BY Sneaker Freaker
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Upper Playground Interview

With a love and appreciation of all art forms, Upper Playground has solidified themselves as the label to collaborate with. Having utilised artists in different mediums to inspire and design for their apparel range, they once again caught the eye of the Three Stripe brigade (after their tantalising 35th anniversary superstar) who employed the brand to add their touch to four exclusive new sneaks. Thinking outside the box, UP hooked up with four of their favourite artists to sprinkle some much needed creativity in a scene overloaded with colabs. We caught up with UP’s founder Matt Revilli to get a better insight into this innovative idea and why, out of everyone, adidas ‘get it’,

Hey Matt, thanks for taking time out. Let’s talk about your collab with adidas. Where did the idea to team up with Originals come from?
In 2005, we teamed up with adidas on their 35th anniversary of the Superstar sneaker. They asked us to design a sneaker as part of the project and we created a BBQ themed sneaker that sold out nearly immediately. When they came to us earlier this year to ask us if we wanted to create a small quantity of adidas Originals sneakers we jumped at the opportunity.

Why did you decide to enlist well-known artists and musicians to co-collaborate on the four part series?
Upper Playground has always been a brand that fuses fashion with fine art, so it seemed natural to partner with contemporary artists on a sneaker line.

How will each shoe differ?
Each sneaker truly captures the style of the artist featured. There are a variety of colours and types of sneakers in the series – everything from Stan Smiths to a Lo Centennial to a hi top sneaker.

How did you settle on Herbert Baglione, Aesop Rock, Dave Choe and Sam Flores as the artists?
We have worked with all of these artists in the past and are continually impressed with their artistic talents. While I work with a ton of artists for our galleries and the UP apparel line, I felt that these four artists would create designs that translated well on a sneaker.

What was the reaction to the initial drop with the Herbet Baglione shoe? Did it surpass your expectations?
Yes, we were pleasantly surprised by the attention that Herbert Baglione’s sneaker received. Herbert’s really become mainstream in the fine arts scene and it’s exciting to see his work get the attention it deserves in the press.

Which shoe will be dropping next? Or are you sworn to secrecy?
Well, this week we launched the David Choe sneaker and next week will be the Aesop Rock sneaker. Then we’ll end with the Sam Flores design.

Are we seeing a return to the heyday of adidas with strong projects such as A-Zx and this one? Could they be a contender to shut down the Nike reign?
To be honest, I’m not too knowledgeable on the sneaker competition between the two brands and where they currently stand in the industry, but I do know that adidas seems to 'get it' and they don’t get overly involved in the creative process. They’re a brand that we enjoy working with because they trust our vision and artistic style.

Upper Playground dove head-first into multi-media with the release of The Citrus Report. Give us the low-down on the decision to employ another avenue of promotion for the brand and its friends.
The Citrus Report is not really a vehicle for promotion of the UP brand. It’s meant to be a separate entity that highlights artists and creative visions that inspire us.

How do you continually keep the Upper Playground label where it belongs?
By not resting on laurels and continuing to push ourselves to create new and interesting projects. We have already created two films focused on the fine art community, Dithers and The Run Up, and we are now focused on ramping up the online video aspect of the company. We have a team dedicated to creating an internet-based video model that serves to entertain and educate called WalrusTV. The plan is to early next year launch a network of video online content and also produce video through traditional broadcasting channels.


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