“Rafael da Cunha Narciso, from Curitiba, Brazilian, 37 years old, a father, empirical designer, half-assed businessman and shoe maker – blessed by Saint Crispin”
Rafael, what’s your relationship with sneakers in general?
Apart from capitalism, there is none, because sneakers are pure capitalism. Weather you like it or not sneakers are a demonstration of the moment that you are in socially, you know? Your social status. You want new sneakers, you want to look cool. Which sneakers do you have, how many sneakers do you have, they show your social position. Sneakers are pura capitalism. And this is not happening just now, it has always been like this.
A sneaker as a basic item that protects your feet from getting hurt, is a pretty simple thing, but as part of what you wear, they are very important. And this shows you cultural position that you are in as well, because if you are worried with certain things, than you don’t just use any kind of sneakers. You can only say they are superficial if you don’t really look into it, because they are much more than just something you put on so you don’t step on a rock, you know? And for real, even if they were just for that, they wouldn’t work, because for example – I really like to run and I run barefooted, I do barefoot running. So this basic feature of the sneaker, sometimes does not apply to me because I know how to run and walk on the streets barefooted.
So to me sneakers have two stages: the first stage is pure capitalism. The second stage is when your sneaker become yours, they are a part of you and your life. Sneakers develops something very personal within people, because they are in our lives long enough to see things happen and go through changes with us. Be it 6 months, a year, two years. So things like “don’t step on my sneakers” or “you’re not in my sneakers” (literal translation from English) the real thing behind that is, you’re not feeling what I’m feeling, you’re not stepping like I’m stepping. Sneakers takes you to places.
Speaking on the design aspect, when we enter this topic, we put a lot of culture into the sneaker, there are designers working on building them. There are shoe makers that are making them. There are those who also participate – a tattoo artist, a DJ etc. So when you look at the cultural aspect, sneakers can be something that can represent you, represent a group of people. And when we do a collab or any kind of partnership, we are representing things that have nothing to do with the basic concept of a sneaker, things that are what sneakers represent in people’s lives.
Apart from capitalism and consumerism, why do sneakers make sense in you life?
They start as the basic principle of capitalism, but on a second moment, they integrate your life as something bigger. The transformation from new sneaker to used sneaker, every scuff and dent that they get, is something you experienced with your own body. Different from any other piece of clothing, sneakers are who suffer the most influence from your body. You stand on them, a jacket doesn’t get bent or loose, but sneakers do.
And what’s your relationship with this Phibo in particular?
There are many types of sneakers and this one is a kind of setup that we’ve never done before at Öus, it’s a different kind of shoe from what we usually make. It’s a lifestyle model, it’s not for professional running but for the professional hustler, that’s the idea.
The story behind this sneaker is that, this setup, the construction from the inner pieces to the out sole, is completely different from what we have made so far. So we had to draw from scratch, and also find the materials. For example, the upper is a knit just like Flyknit, made with the same machines that makes their knits. We found the machine, then we went after the story and found who had developed the knit itself and etc. The out sole is a EVA compound that we had never worked with before, so we had to research how the material behaved and how it worked.
To me this Phibo is very important because after 8 years making sneakers, we made a shoe from a whole nother category, and we had to study from scratch, from the beginning of the process, just like we were starting all over again. It was a very complex process, we had to get all new suppliers, new boxes, we have multinational suppliers that don’t even produce here in Brazil. It was a year and a half developing the this product – from January 2016 till July 2017. The deadline actually was February 2017, but we are only releasing them now.
For us at Öus it was pretty cool doing this project because we have to remember that we are a shoe brand, and that we widened our range and made a different kind of shoe. It was a very challenging project. And so I’ve been wearing these since October 2016, because when they’re still in a development stage, you can’t really wear them because, or you have the outsole or you have the upper, and when you have the upper you don’t have the outsole. So, since this one was a little more finished than the others, I’ve been wearing them regularly – as a simple really. Each one I use, I try to find any defects, so we can fix them. Since we’ve been developing them for over a year, I really want them to work because it’s really important for the brand to have lifestyle products, and also because we really like this style too.