We went after 3 people with stories, personalities, and different styles and who like adidas Originals to tell their experiences and stories with their three stipes OGs, for the home of classics projects. Our last interview was Sheik, a guy who has been customizing and restoring sneakers since 2007 and has a collection since the 80s.
This content is a partnership with Sneakersbr and supported by adidas.
“I started in 2007, with sneakers customization and restoration, but my strength was restoration. I’m from ABC – SP where I lived for over 43 years or so. I used to have a lot of foreign clients, mainly in customization but, due to another job, I ended up putting it aside for some time. But the demand for sneakers has always been with me. I’ve collected sneakers since the 80s, and many of them I only got after I had a job because it was very expensive, I couldn’t buy them. Many of them are over 20 years old, but still look like they are new, like this one.”
And how did you become interested and started restoring and customizing sneakers?
SheikI’ve always worked with art. I used to create toy prototypes for a company for about 8 years. There was a manager there who had a shoe factory, so I developed all his shoes. But I was very attached to the toys, I did the shoes for him and didn’t even care if it was going to be something in the future, because I was employed and I liked my job. All the prototypes and development were done by hand, with the brush, and ruler.
Then I studied at Panamericana School of Art, which at the time wasn’t a college, it was just a technical course. And to pay for it, I used to write people’s names in rice grains so I could sell it. It was crazy. There were people who really liked it and I sold a lot of them. With that, I also won over a lot of art professionals to give some support. And that was it. One day I was at home, then I saw a job opportunity with sneakers, and I thought “Oh cool, I can try that”. That’s when I started making my first sneakers, which was my daughter’s. This was in the time of Orkut, so I posted there and people liked it. Then I started to restore my own shoes because they were very old and I said to myself “I’m going to make them new again”. So, when I posted the pictures, people thought I had bought them at the store the day before. It went on as a hobby that lasted a long time, lasts until today, a lot of people look for me, mainly collectors. It’s pretty cool!
And by the time you started customizing and restoring sneakers, were you already into sneakers?
SheikI already loved sneakers. I think I was good at it because of that. I’ve always wanted all the models from the 80’s, for example. So it wasn’t something like “I’ll make money from sneakers because it’s gonna work out”. It was something I really liked. So I said “I’ll invest in this, I like it, it will work.”
“There were some people from my neighborhood, especially kids, who really liked a specific shoe to go to school and their mother would buy a new one, but they still used the old one anyways. It felt like, I don’t know, it was a part of their hearts. Then I ended up restoring their old sneakers for them to keep wearing.”
What was the moment you realized that you really liked sneakers?
SheikIt all started at the time of the dance parties. “Nostalgia” was a dance party that happend here at ABC and São Paulo, in the 80’s. There were many sneakers that we couldn’t afford to buy, so a friend would lend them to us. And there was also the chance of being robbed, because at that time people stole a lot of sneakers and jackets. That’s when I started, I would go crazy about the sneakers. Especially the sneakers of the moment. And then I started restoring my own and so I could restore the clients’.
Do you do more restoration or customization work nowadays?
SheikI get some customizations, but it’s very rare. It’s more restoration. I make an evaluation to see if I can work on the sneakers, if they are structured enough. And also many people just buy some new sneakers, new models out there, especially Adidas, to change the color. If the color he wants is no longer available, he buys them as they are, then I paint it with the color they want.
There were some people from my neighborhood, especially kids, who really liked a specific shoe to go to school and their mother would buy a new one, but they still used the old one anyways. It felt like, I don’t know, it was a part of their hearts. Then I ended up restoring their old sneakers for them to keep wearing. And also my friends, they came and said they needed to do a detail here, or if there was a scratch, and I would say “Give me that, I can fix it for you, let’s go, let’s do it”. I do it because I really like it. If you say “man, let’s do it”, I don’t even care how much it will be, I like it so much that it looks like I’m doing it for me, you know? So that’s why I think it looks so perfect.
From all the sneakers in your collection, why did you choose this Adidas Strider for Kickstory?
SheikHmm, this shoe here says a lot about me, It was a personal achievement for me. When I was a teenager I used to see many colleagues wearing the “French Adidas”, as we called it, the Rome, the Marathon, all the classics, and I couldn’t afford to buy one. So I struggled a lot as a kid, I worked as an office boy to get some money and buy sneakers. I’ve spent years saving money ’till the day I managed to buy it. This is one of the sneakers that I saved money to buy, I take care of it as if it was a son. You see he looks new, it’s many years old, but it looks like I bought it yesterday (laughs).
I only wear it at special occasions. I clean it every time. Like, If I wear it here, I’ll go home, leave it quiet for a while, and then I will clean it. I don’t just put it away, or let it scuff somehow. And when something happens, I restore a little bit and leave it there. I have a lot of affection for it. With this one and all my other sneakers, actually, but this is one of the most special ones.
“When I was a teenager I used to see many colleagues wearing the “French Adidas”, as we called it, the Rome, the Marathon, all the classics, and I couldn’t afford to buy one. So I struggled a lot as a kid, I worked as an office boy to get some money and buy sneakers.”
“This collection thing is crazy. You become so attached that you end up buying sneakers that don’t fit you. I got rid of a lot of sneakers like that, because when I would find a classic one on the internet, I would just buy it. But this sneaker, for example, was 35/36, I wear 42. I even bought a 40, stretched it, and left it in a mold for several months so I could wear it because I couldn’t find my size anymore.”
What’s your relationship with sneakers in general?
SheikIn my conception of sneakers, it depends on the person. There are people who have sneakers because they need to wear something, they will not walk in slippers everyday, they will use sneakers. There are others who really love their sneakers. Generally, people who look for me are the ones who love sneakers, people who collect, or those who might have gotten a recently launched sneaker and want them to look exclusive. So I think it represents a great affection for each person. And for me it’s a passion.
This collection thing is crazy. You become so attached that you end up buying sneakers that don’t fit you. I got rid of a lot of sneakers like that, because when I would find a classic one on the internet, I would just buy it. But this sneaker, for example, was 35/36, I wear 42. I even bought a 40, stretched it, and left it in a mold for several months so I could wear it because I couldn’t find my size anymore. I wanted to wear that shoe. For you to see how crazy it is to really love sneakers. But then I started to let go. I said, “No. From now on, I’m going to buy only my number so I can really feel like wearing this sneaker”.
I take care of the insoles too, when I buy a number that is 41 or 42, I take them off. I put it on a simpler insole to keep the original. And try to make it as original as possible. This Adidas here is without insoles. If you take a picture of the insole, you’ll go crazy. It even has a gold detail around it. Anyway, nowadays, I even buy normal sneakers, right? Today’s sneakers. But I try to look for the old ones.
Photos: Pérola Dutra
Video: @julioneryy e @oguime_