“I’m João, I’m 33, currently working with strategy and planning and for events. I’ve had a relationship with Judo for 20 years and today I play Rugby, I spend my life basically between work, sports, and friends.”
Why did you pick this location for this photoshoot?
We’re at Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, a historic area of the city, an area that is mostly known for its bars but is actually much more important to the city than that. This neighborhood survived the earthquake in 1755 – it was always an area of bohemian life, back in the day it was the girls and sailors, but today it’s undergoing a reformulation – and this place is this transformation. It’s a bar here with a very modern parking lot, in an area with 500-year-old buildings.
But it’s interesting to see that even with all these changes in cities such as Lisbon, Paris, Barcelona, historic neighborhoods still are able to have these bars and bohemian life – not just becoming a residential neighborhood for rich people.
I live and work here, my relationship is very strong with this place, I make my entire life in these square meters (laughs).
What does sport represent in your life?
Everything. It’s everything because it’s sports that gave me my friends, like Pedro and Tomás. To me it’s a way of being, it’s a way of facing life – I met my girlfriend and future wife through sport. I think sport, when well taught and played right, is the best school of values one can ever have in life.
You may have a family with separated parents and siblings who do not get along, but if you have a group that is bound by the same goal in sport – by winning, or just by practicing – that gives you good values, you will carry those good values.
Rugby has things that Judo doesn’t have, apart from being played outdoors, it is an effective team sport, that requires every element of the team to achieve a common objective. So in my life there were two sports at different times, they gave me a lot and they still give me a lot, it’s what gives me friends and it’s part of my life, even when I stop playing I still want to keep in touch.
To you, is there any connection between design, sports and sneakers?
There’s something in common, considering that there would be no sneakers if there were no spots. So no matter what brand it is, all of them have sports on their foundation, always. And so is design, once nobody makes a sneaker for themselves, they’re made to sell – it only sells if it’s good, it only sells if it looks good, and when it doesn’t have to look good it has to perform well. So you put together a series of things: sports, product and fashion design.
So I think all this comes together in my life, even though they might come in different moments. My passion for sneakers came from Michael Jordan obviously, I remember watching him play, having his collectible cards and to research more about why Air Jordan’s were what they were. You start talking about these things, to read about these things and today the information spreads quickly. From the beginning till the end sports and design will always have a connection with sneakers.
How is sneaker culture here in Lisbon? In Portugal?
I know the culture but I’m not an active one, people are way more active than me. First of all, I don’t know how it is in Brazil but here in Lisbon it’s a very American culture, and it’s going to have connections that you have in the rest of the world. It’s really connected to music, tattoos, arts and fixed gear bikes. We have a problem here in Portugal because the market is so small – even though it grew a little with online sales, but 10 years ago it was really hard to get sneakers that you saw in the US, they just didn’t come here. What just happened now with the Yeezys that made it to Portugal, never would have happened 10 years ago.
But it’s all different now, sneaker prices are more accessible, like every almost every now, and I think that there are people with excellent collections and above all people willing to keep and spread the culture. I read a quote the other day that said: “ I like shoes, whatever, I’m superficial “, so everyone likes what they like, and it’s not for us to judge. We have a good culture, men and women that are building some good stuff with it, and you can feel it growing, and Bairro Alto being the place pushing the culture forward. It’s not just about having sneakers, it’s the reason behind them and what that gives you. For me it’s like this: if I like a sneaker I go and buy 3 of them because I don’t need others – it’s a passion.
What’s your relationship with sneakers in general?
Confort. It’s beyond comfort it’s the only thing you wear. Today the trend is to fold up your pants so you can see the sneakers, when back in the day you would cover them up and only show some parts. It’s an object that one: has to be comfortable; and second: it marks your personality, your state of spirit.
I bought some horrible shoes, I had those yellow and blue sporty Adidas x350. They cost 15 dollars so it was worth it. When I use them, I had this friend that would always say “ only you can pull that off”. It’s a matter of attitude, what you wear on your feet it’s the attitude you have on your head.
Do you consider yourself a sneakerhead?
Oh no… no, no. It’s like I always say, just because you have 100 records doesn’t make you a collector, but if you have 100 good records, that’s what makes you a collector. I don’t consider myself one, I buy them because I like how they look and because I know they’re comfortable. In that sense I don’t consider myself a sneakerhead, and I think it will only be harder for me to be one.
What’s your relationship with this Reebok Sole Trainer?
The story is: I never wore them to go out at night, and it’s hard because you have to pick the most chill ones because they gonna get trashed. I have this sneaker since 2009, I bought them at a store here in Bairro Alto that is now closed. It only sold sneakers and they had the craziest ones from all brand, the ones that were hard to find. I saw these Reeboks, they had them in this blue color and in purple, so I liked them and got them.
These sneakers have something very unique- they are impermeable – so they are hot as fuck (laughs). You can’t wear them during the summer, but they look really good with shorts, but anyway, because of that I wore them very little. You can see that I have this sneaker for almost 10 years and they are still good, the sole is basically new. So that’s the story, a sneaker that I really like but I can’t wear them because they’re too hot.
Besides all that, I think Reebok is a classic and important brand, that has lots a lot. Of strength, but is well-protected thanks to the UK, where people have great care for the brand. Now it’s getting some strength back in the market because it’s in the NHL. But it’s a brand that proves that trends are a cycle, because they haven’t reinvented themselves, the kept the same models, they’ve been through a rough patch but they’ve come up again with the same models that were craved 20 years ago.
Sneakers set these trends – who would think of wearing Adidas Gazelles 3 years ago? They were completely out of trend, but they’re back again. If you pay attention to the history of sneakers, the models, the editions and everything that comes out, you can see the history of fashion. I don’t know if you remember but Pum had a boom when they sponsored the Jamaican team, before that it barely existed, they had a boom selling the same ugly looking sneakers as always – mix two things, most ugly looking sneakers and most uncomfortable sneakers. They did it, people wore those to go out to dinner!
The story of the brands that started as sports brands and with time grew into sneaker brands is really interesting. If look up the story behind Nike and Adidas – that are strongly connected to Puma – with Asics, Onitsuka Tiger, an all of them, all of their stories are connected to design, art, and fashion. What would be of us if those weird Adidas from the 90s didn’t exist?