Turning your passion for sneakers into your actual job is something very few people get to achieve. To close out the year, we went to Caio ‘The Vict’s studio to talk about how he started his channel and the process of creating one of his most incredible customs – the hybrid Nike Big Air 97 – mixing two silhouettes and maximizing the essence of the Air Max family.
PHOTOS BY GABI NERY

“I’ve been passionate for sneakers from a very early age because of basketball. I started playing basketball when I was 6, 7 or 8 years old. Then, once I was a little older, I went to work for a few years in a sneakers store, where I was sub- manager then manager, which made my passion for sneakers grow even more. I saw a deficit in social media around the subject and I thought “I need to talk more about this”. So I decided to put together my passion, and today I have a YouTube channel called The Vict, and the Sala 5 channel – which we talk about a little bit about sneakers, but it’s not the main focus, the Na Fila do Drop podcast, and then there’s Instagram too. So today my world has become this – talking about sneakers, I talk about sneakers everywhere. Even when I’m playing video games, I’m talking about sneakers, these days “.

Today your YouTube channel, The Vict, has more than 640.000 subscribers in less than 4 years. This is an impressive trajectory! Where did this need to make a sneaker channel come from?

Man, it was so natural. I honestly can’t see a specific moment when it started, I can’t imagine a moment when I said “I’m going to create a channel and I’m going to talk only about sneakers”. It was just so natural, I said damn, I want to talk a little more about what I like. The idea behind the channel actually started a little differently from what I do today – although before I actually created the channel, I remember “drawing” the segments I wanted to do, about what I wanted to talk about and it was very focused on technology, the history of sneakers itself, the history of the brand and stuff.

It grew and I expanded, to the point where I am today, where I’m not only making historical or technology content, but sometimes also some curiosities, sometimes testing what would happen if I drove a car over some sneakers to be a little more entertainment. Then there are the talks that take place on other networks, the photos, anyway. It was taking such a huge proportion that man … I’m just being taken along (laughs). Things are happening in a way that sometimes I’m not even in control. Crazy. I just ride the wave, you know?

I was never the art guy, never, I always thought of myself as a medium to bad kind of art guy, when I was young, I did some graffiti and stuff, but I was never the guy that drew. So customization, really came about with the idea of ​​reviving an old sneaker. And then I improved my technique, my desire to do something better every time – because man, I’m that kind of person, if I’m going to do something, I want to go all the way to the end. I am still learning today.

To me the Swoosh light is such a highlight because it doesn’t even have paint! I just put the light there, I made the swoosh out of resin, etc. What I really like is to go sniffing things out, I that person that wants to check out everything, once I almost set the house on fire by just trying things out, creating things (laughs). Creating, yes, has always run through my veins. Now art, drawing, that’s very difficult. So much so that practically none of my designs have actual drawing on them. It’s a space that I admire so much to the point of paying homage, this to me is a tribute. It’s not my place to talk, but people put me in the position where I’m the customization guy, and that’s really crazy.

I DECIDED TO INTRODUCE CUSTOMIZATION AS A WAY TO REVIVE AN OLDER SNEAKER, AND THAT HAS BEEN THE CORE OF IT TILL TODAY, TO MAKE PEOPLE GET OLD SNEAKERS THAT THEY WOULD NO LONGER WEAR OUT OF THE CLOSET, AND BRING NEW LIFE TO THEM THROUGH CUSTOMIZATION. THE IDEA WAS TO BRING THE SNEAKERS BACK AND NOT NECESSARILY MAKE A DIFFERENT SNEAKER.

You have a really cool customization segment on your channel. Where did you learn to do this kind of work?

I feel like Sneaker Customs here in Brazil got a bad rep, people did not look at it with good eyes. So I decided to introduce customization as a way to revive an older sneaker, and that has been the core of it till today, to make people get old sneakers that they would no longer wear out of the closet, and bring new life to them through customization. The idea was to bring the sneakers back and not necessarily make a different sneaker. So it began as a form of restoration, it grew, and it became so big that today people associate my channel with customization – it took such a huge proportion that people started to do their own customs, and then I started making videos “reacting to customs”. At least that was the initial idea. And it’s that same idea till today. I always try to keep the idea of how it started, fresh in my head, so that the original idea doesn’t die, you know?

What was the first custom you made?

The first custom I did was the Air Max 90, it was a simple one that I did with the colors from the channel – black, white and red – the video has something like 1 million and 600 thousand views more or less. It was very cheap paint, I used fabric paint and it worked out ok, I never even wore them because they’re a part of my historical collection, I even painted the soles. That was a very important moment to me, it was the beginning of the channel, I had no idea how big it would become, and how much it would influence people too. It was all very new. I had no idea that this video would reach 1.6 million views and that people would use this video to make their own customs!

Do you remember when your passion for sneakers started? When was that moment when you saw a pair and it just “clicked”?

 

It was exactly in 2000, when I was 14, with the adidas Kobe 1. I saw them on display, I didn’t even get to touch them, but it was like “wow, damn what a sneaker”. It’s so well done, I always say that, it’s so completely different from what we’re used to today, although I think that in 2021, they will look at the early 2000’s with a lot of silver and chrome sneakers. But anyway, it was this moment in 2001 that I said “damn this is a dopest shoe”, that I have ever been in contact with. Especially because it is one thing to see photos of Jordans and etc., another thing is to see it person, and  that really moved me.

 

I didn’t didn’t have that kind of money at all to buy the sneakers, but there have been several opportunities to get them but until today I haven’t bought them, because I want it to be so special that it will never be as special as I want it to be, you know? (laughs). It’s really crazy, I never ended up buying it.

 

To me, the moment that I had the “click” was when I bought the first shoe at Galeria do Rock, a completely off brand shoe, all white, it must have been the cheapest shoe in the whole place. They where basketball sneakers, all white leather, a red EVA cushioning underneath, who knows what shoe was that, I was so young. That was special.

 

For the videos, do you buy all your sneakers or do you get any support from brands?

 

I’ve never been sponsored by any brands, any stores, or anything. Nike actually sent me a few things and I did one or two jobs at that time. But man, it’s almost a dream for you to be noticed by any brand here in Brazil. The problem is that they don’t respect our work, they don’t understand the importance of what we do . And when I we, I mean us here, and everyone else.

 

That’s why maintaining the channel is a huge cost, but at least I do it the way I want it, when I want it, how I want it. I’ll say, I don’t know, 3% of my sneakers were given to me. And let me tell you, it’s not just because you’re paying me that I’ll talk about any sneaker. And I wont say a sneaker is good just because I’m being paid, sorry. I have a greater commitment to my audience before the brands. My concern is always with the public.



BUT MAN, IT’S ALMOST A DREAM FOR YOU TO BE NOTICED BY ANY BRAND HERE IN BRAZIL. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THEY DON’T RESPECT OUR WORK, THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF WHAT WE DO . AND WHEN I WE, I MEAN US HERE, AND EVERYONE ELSE.

Do you remember when your passion for sneakers started? When was that moment when you saw a pair and it just “clicked”?

It was exactly in 2000, when I was 14, with the adidas Kobe 1. I saw them on display, I didn’t even get to touch them, but it was like “wow, damn what a sneaker”. It’s so well done, I always say that, it’s so completely different from what we’re used to today, although I think that in 2021, they will look at the early 2000’s with a lot of silver and chrome sneakers. But anyway, it was this moment in 2001 that I said “damn this is a dopest shoe”, that I have ever been in contact with. Especially because it is one thing to see photos of Jordans and etc., another thing is to see it person, and  that really moved me.

I didn’t didn’t have that kind of money at all to buy the sneakers, but there have been several opportunities to get them but until today I haven’t bought them, because I want it to be so special that it will never be as special as I want it to be, you know? (laughs). It’s really crazy, I never ended up buying it.

To me, the moment that I had the “click” was when I bought the first shoe at Galeria do Rock, a completely off brand shoe, all white, it must have been the cheapest shoe in the whole place. They where basketball sneakers, all white leather, a red EVA cushioning underneath, who knows what shoe was that, I was so young. That was special.

For the videos, do you buy all your sneakers or do you get any support from brands?

I’ve never been sponsored by any brands, any stores, or anything. Nike actually sent me a few things and I did one or two jobs at that time. But man, it’s almost a dream for you to be noticed by any brand here in Brazil. The problem is that they don’t respect our work, they don’t understand the importance of what we do . And when I we, I mean us here, and everyone else.

That’s why maintaining the channel is a huge cost, but at least I do it the way I want it, when I want it, how I want it. I’ll say, I don’t know, 3% of my sneakers were given to me. And let me tell you, it’s not just because you’re paying me that I’ll talk about any sneaker. And I wont say a sneaker is good just because I’m being paid, sorry. I have a greater commitment to my audience before the brands. My concern is always with the public.

Of all the sneakers of your collection and the ones you customized, why did you choose this Nike Big Air 97 for today’s interview?

Because I cut 2 sneakers to make 1 (laughs). I was surprised by the result, I would even say that I think it turned out better than the original Nike Air Max 720, both in comfort, and even the stepping sensation. I really liked the style, and at that time bulky sneakers where at a high, like the Triple S, were really hot back then. And because it’s such a bulky sneaker it drew a lot of attention. But that’s it, it was all a test, like I said about customization, I’m going to think outside the box, I’m going to do something that nobody has ever done, so I’m going to do this.

It made so much noise that it made its way to Nike, and that was the moment that I said “Now people are going to acknowledge my work right, you know, it made its way to Nike, I got Nike employees congratulating me”. And Of course, that didn’t happen (laughs). But for me that experience was sensational. And it is a unique shoe, right. So for sure this was very inpacfull, a lot of people made all different kinds of art that you can imagine with these sneakers, a lot of people. I do not know how to quantify how many people made t-shirts, like digital art, countless. In fact, someone sent me some wonderful posters with art of this sneaker, as if Nike had produced it and made all the visual art for the campaign, you know? It was incredible.

How do you see your relationship with sneakers in general? The fact that today, sneakers are your job, did that change your relationship with them?

Caio: Whatever happens, I always try to do mental exercises to bring me to the foundation. Both financially, remembering everything I’ve been through, and the desire I had for sneakers during a time when I couldn’t afford them. I always say “I can’t believe I’m here and these sneakers are mine”. As I said, I was not able to buy them, and suddenly I have a bunch, suddenly I have to buy for the channel, and at the same time I want more, but should I?

I say to myself “man, you came from humility, you came from where you had no conditions, so be grateful for each of your sneakers”. It’s remarkable, I want to remember, man, this is the moment. It is not because it’s your job today that it has to stop being a moment. It is a moment. So, that love cannot die. Because the love for sneakers is the foundation of the channel, the foundation of what I make. If that love dies, the channel dies together. It is an exercise, really. I can’t let the love die.

Tay: This exercise, to remember, came up because he bought these ‘Day of the Dead’ Jordans. A guy from Curitiba got them for him, and the sneakers arrived here. And it was a really busy day and the box just layed there. And at night, when we finished working, he sat there and said “damn it, look at these sneakers I didn’t even open the box. That can’t happen”. He looked me in the eye and said “this is my passion, I can’t just ignore a child after a day at work”. It is a very stupid comparison but it is something he loves very much. Then he sat there, opened it, made the vlog he had to make, looked at every detail, the way he always does.

And another thing that he also does is not to buy any more sneakers that don’t make so much sense to him, like just to show on the channel. When you start having things that don’t make sense, you become an accumulator. If there’s a shoe that people really want to see and Caio needs to show on the Channel,  and break it all down, he goes, buys the shoe, records the video and then donates them to someone who is really going to make a story out of them, you know? Transform it in some way that is positive.

Caio: And another thing I do is, leave my sneakers exposed, like they’re all exposed here, at home I try to leave as much exposed as possible. Because I don’t want my desire for something to become a hidden box somewhere that I won’t remember, you know? The things I love will always be present wherever I am. If I go to the bathroom, the entire way will be full of sneakers. I’m going to the sneaker room, the sneakers will be exposed there.

I have to remember all my pairs, I can’t have sneakers just because I have them. If it’s been 2 year and the sneakers are just there, and I didnt even remember that I had them, there’s no reason why I should keep them. Then I’ll pass them on to someone, I’ll donate them. Because if it doesn’t make sense to me anymore, it’s been 2 years and I haven’t even looked at it, then it isn’t important to me, but it can be very important to someone else. When we talk about sneakers we know how much it can be important for some people who cannot afford them. Man, how many kids I’ve met on the court playing barefoot, if you show up with a pair ofget there with sneakers for the kid and say “bro, here you go”. There’s no price for that.

I HAVE TO REMEMBER ALL MY PAIRS, I CAN’T HAVE SNEAKERS JUST BECAUSE I HAVE THEM. IF IT’S BEEN 2 YEAR AND THE SNEAKERS ARE JUST THERE, AND I DIDNT EVEN REMEMBER THAT I HAD THEM, THERE’S NO REASON WHY I SHOULD KEEP THEM. THEN I’LL PASS THEM ON TO SOMEONE, I’LL DONATE THEM. BECAUSE IF IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO ME ANYMORE, IT’S BEEN 2 YEARS AND I HAVEN’T EVEN LOOKED AT IT, THEN IT ISN’T IMPORTANT TO ME, BUT IT CAN BE VERY IMPORTANT TO SOMEONE ELSE.

It’s very crazy that the channel has taken on such a huge proportion, you imagine this story being multiplied thousands and thousands of times. How many people have I met on the street who said that they started working so they could buy a pair of sneakers after watching the channel? And so, for some people it may seem like some futile shit, like you’re making a kid buy some bullshit. But it goes beyond that. The guy started working at the age of 14 to get something he wanted. Even to those who have the condition to buy sneakers, we try to emphasize: it’s not because you have everything, that you don’t have to give it the value it deserves.

One thing I stopped doing is posting sneaker close to their release date, I don’t want to encourage that. A lot of sneakers that I recently released I haven’t posted any pictures yet, because I don’t want people to buy just for the hype, you know? I’ve done a lot of things without thinking them all the way through when I started the channel.  So we are really careful with the things we say because I don’t talk about sneakers, I talk about life so I can’t mess up. Sneakers are just the backdrop and we have to be careful with every little action we do. There are many young people who are still figuring who they are.

Take the Jordan 1 Mid as an example. They are the outcast, everyone knows that, but if you want to buy a Jordan, buy a Jordan 1 Mid. The Mids was just R$ 500, while the Highs were R$ 700 when I started talking about this. Then you hear people saying stuff like that if you have R$ 500, you can pay R$ 700. But the guy who was going to pay R$ 500 doesn’t even have R$ 500 anymore. In reality he only had R$ 300 and he’s working his ass off to the extreme to be able to buy the R$ 500 ones. The Jordan 1 Mid to me is the most important shoe of 2020, because it made people feel included in something. They worked so hard to get a Jordan 1 Mid.

Tay: And it’s so cool that people say “Damn Caio, you’re wearing the Jordan 1 Mid”. Anywhere we go and he’s wearing the Mids: “fuck, I also got the Mids on” and then they identify themselfs with others. He does not discriminate against the sneakers. It’s history. When the people hit up Caio with pics of their new sneakers, he says: congratulations on your acquisition, start making stories with them. Use, abuse, have memories regardless of what they are.

Nike ‘Big Air 97’
Owner: Caio Victor The Vict
Year: 2019
Photos: Gabi Nery