Alexandre Felix created Sneakers MOB to bring back some of the stories and emotional bonds we have with sneakers. He has lived Hip-Hop culture since he was young, he had his skateboarding phase and today he’s an engineer, but sneakers have always been a part of his life.
And it was skateboarding, that Alexandre came across the New Balance 1600. He was so amazed by the sneaker that he followed the kid that was wearing them, just so he could get a better look at them. Since first laying his eyes on the 1600 till he actually found out what they were, and later on created Sneakers Mob, a long time filled with stories went by.
“I am Alexander Felix and I’m 27 years old. I work in a totally different area from sneakers, I’m an electric engineer and I work with projects. Sneakers MOB is a project I created and it was born from just friends talking about sneakers. Sneaker culture has had a huge growth, and I am really happy for that, but I realized that the other channels were mostly encouraging consumer culture, what’s no more identity, somebody who’s interested in the history of the sneakers. A lot of iconic models were sitting on shelves and nobody was interested in them, the stories behind them getting left behind, nobody cared about the cultural reference or even the entire design team behind a model. Materials! nobody cared about the smell of actual leather, or nobody could tell the difference between fake and original leather.
So the idea with Sneakers Mob what’s to bring back some of the emotional aspects and crate some connections based on what I’ve experienced. I was a kid that grew up in a community, I’ve always listened to a lot of Rap since a very young age.”
You choose to breakdance when you were younger – how did your connection to dance and how did they influence Sneakers Mob?
My path began at Casa do Hip Hop in Diadema. When I was around 13 or 14 one of my teachers, Dudu, had a project in which he gave Street dance lessons, so I started taking his classes and began doing a lot of research. I saw guys doing a bunch of different moves and I thought ” I want to know some of those other styles, I want to do something different”. So that’s when people told me about Casa do Hip Hop, where they had a bunch of different workshops like breakdancing, graffiti, so I went there to check it out! So for two years, I spent every weekend in the house. I did a graffiti workshop with the devoted Tota, breakdancing workshops with Back Spin Crew, I met many DJs that today are tearing up the scene like Dandan.
I always like sneakers since I was a little boy because my mom worked at a shoe store. We didn’t have that much money at home and my mom always gave me regular sneakers to wear. I had a Topper soccer boot that I also wore to school, to go out, I used them for everything – and I also wanted to do everything with them in my break classes. But when I tried doing moves on that waxed floor, I had no grip, and I would fall down a lot, it was terrible (laughs). when I was learning to do some of those power moves they would great, because they would slide like crazy! I was doing some stuff that nobody else did.
But I needed that traction. This guy from Back Spin, I don’t remember the name of the b-boy, but he had Converse one stars with the gum outsoles. So I thought “Man, I need to get myself a sneaker with that outsole”. The time I didn’t even know what a gum outsole was, I just knew they were the sneakers with the brown outsoles. So I went to Galeria do Rock with one thing in mind: Define those Converse one star with the brown outsoles. But all the stores only had sneakers with white outsoles, but I would say to myself “no man, not the white ones. They’ll probably be just as good as my Topper, I need the brown bottoms.” So one lady said, “ah, I have this one right here, but I don’t think you’re going to like them”. So she brought me a pair of purple Converse one star with gray details, and with gum outsoles! I said “they are the sneakers of my life! They are the ones, I’m taking them”. And I went everywhere with those sneakers, I would go to school, I would go to practice, I did everything with those sneakers, I trashed them because I wore them so much.
When I turned 15 I started doing SENAI, I wasn’t able to put together dancing, graffiti along with my studies. I want in my Independence and so I thought “dude, I’m going to put these two passions aside for now because one day I’ll be able to bring them back”. So I left, but I kept all my contacts right? I would still hang out with my friends, but I wasn’t directly active. If I could I would still be dancing till today. But I have to study and do my own thing. So when the Sneakers MOB project came up, I said ” I’m going to do this. I need to put myself in this thing. I need to put my passion in this project because people will identify themselves with that”. So I put rap and sneakers together, and people are really digging it! It’s very satisfying.
THE IDEA WAS TO MAKE A PROJECT FOR THOSE WHO LIKE COMING TOGETHER, HAVE THE PASSION DEEP DOWN IN THEIR SOUL, THAT SHARE THE SAME LOVE FOR SNEAKERS, AND I WANTED TO BRING THAT DIFFERENTLY. I’M NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT WHAT’S COMING OUT AND WHAT’S THE PRICE. I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT STUFF LIKE: “BRO, DID YOU SEE THESE ON THE STREETS? THOSE ARE THE AIR JORDANS. DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AIR JORDAN, THE DUNK, AND THE SB DUNKS? I’LL SHOW YOU”.
How was the trajectory of creating Sneakers MOB up until today?
I created Sneakers Mob last year, somewhere around July or August. My friend has a pub called Mundo Inca, and I would always go there to talk about sneakers and streetwear. Until one day he said to me “you know a lot about sneakers man. Have you seen how are the articles these days? They are mostly content from sites from abroad, It’s all translated content. And I said “ah man, I also really miss some of that historic stuff. Bring in some cultural context”. So he said to me “bro, why don’t you make some content like that?” and that stuck in my mind. At the time I was doing my senior project, I was fucked, I didn’t even have time to spend with my girlfriend let alone do something like that. But even so, I decided that I was going to make it work.
The idea was to make a project for those who like coming together, have the passion deep down in their soul, that share the same love for sneakers, and I wanted to bring that differently. I’m not going to talk about what’s coming out and what’s the price. I’m going to talk about stuff like: “bro, did you see these on the streets? Those are the Air Jordans. Do you know the difference between the Air Jordan, the Dunk, and the SB Dunks? I’ll show you”. That’s more of the aspect I like to show. I like to look for sneakers in old pictures from like Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., a lot of rappers from the 90s Golden Era. So I tried to rescue that old stuff and put those two worlds together. And I think that’s that is content you know?
When people ask me what was the format that I based Sneakers Mob on? I always say: it was Kickstory. I told you guys this once, what Kickstory does is real content. I stop and read it. Because every story has a lot of connections to a specific moment, everyone’s there, everyone’s talking about sneakers, and they’re not only talking about sneakers they’re talking about specific points, places where something dope happened for sneakers, sneaker spots, where to buy them. And that really adds a lot to the culture.
And I enjoyed all this. That’s why they asked me “damn you work all day and study at night?” Yes, I work all day and I study at night. “how do you make time for that?” I tell them, I work from 8 till 5:30. I like my job and I also do it with love. But when I study, I also study out of love. But when I get home at 11, I stay up until 2 in the morning writing. I might be exhausted, but I’ll stop and write for Sneakers MOB.
I USED ORKUT A LOT, AND I WOULD LOOK FOR SNEAKER COMMUNITIES BUT I DIDN’T FIND ANY FROM BRAZIL, BUT I KEPT LOOKING CONSULT SOME COMMUNITIES FROM ABROAD THAT TALKED ABOUT SNEAKERS – COMMUNITIES THAT TODAY HAVE THEIR OWN WEBSITES AND INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS. A LOT OF JAPANESE TALKED ABOUT SNEAKERS AS WELL. IT WAS A MESS BECAUSE THEY WERE STUFF WRITTEN IN ENGLISH, SPANISH AND JAPANESE, EVERYTHING WAS MIXED UP.
What we like most about Sneakers MOB is how rich the content actually is, not only with the writing but with the images. How is your research process?
My process began when I got my first computer. I used Orkut a lot, and I would look for sneaker communities but I didn’t find any from Brazil, but I kept looking consult some communities from abroad that talked about sneakers – communities that today have their own websites and Instagram accounts. A lot of Japanese talked about sneakers as well. It was a mess because they were stuff written in English, Spanish and Japanese, everything was mixed up. People would put up a lot of catalogs with a lot of information. So I started saving everything on my floppy disks, but that didn’t last long. But when CDs came out, then I began to save a lot more stuff, more content – and that was all just for myself – can I have all that till today and I use a lot of that content for Instagram. I mix it all up with music and I just make it happen.
I GOT CLOSE TO HIM, I SAW THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRITTEN ON THE FRONT AND I WANTED TO READ WHAT IT WAS, BUT YOU SAW ME. HE KEPT LOOKING BACK THINKING THAT I WAS GOING TO LIKE, ROB HIM OR SOMETHING (LAUGHS). STARTED SPEEDING UP, AND I, A SKATER, STARTED SPEEDING UP AS WELL. ARE YOU ALMOST SHOUTED, “HEY, HOLD UP LET ME SEE YOUR SNEAKERS MAN, WAIT UP!”
And why out of your 52 sneakers, did you pick this new balance 1600 CM1600G for this Kickstory interview?
I think you guys are going to find a story pretty crazy (laughs). Sometime around 2010, I would skateboard with some guys. So, I would stay at school in the afternoon to study and like any other kid, I would skate and leave then go to another school to see our friends and of course the girls right? (laughs). When it was time for the kids to leave school, it was magical for us, because we would see everyone. One day I was at the entrance of the school with my friends, a bunch of kids, with my humble little Toppers, when this huge kid walks by with a New Balance 1600 on his feet. I looked at those sneakers, and I didn’t know they were New Balance 1600, I didn’t know what they were, but I just froze, I had never seen those sneakers before. For me, it was like… I don’t even know how to explain.
The dude was going to the Diadema terminal, it was about 500m on foot, so I just left all my friends and said: ” guys, hold my board because I have to check something out”. So I followed the guy. I got close to him, I saw that there was something written on the front and I wanted to read what it was, but you saw me. He kept looking back thinking that I was going to like, rob him or something (laughs). Started speeding up, and I, a skater, started speeding up as well. Are you almost shouted, “Hey, hold up let me see your sneakers man, wait up!” So he ran into the terminal. I thought “damn it, I’m not spending money just so I can go into the terminal to look at some sneakers.”
Those sneakers got stuck in my memory, I could even remember the shape of the sneaker perfectly. When I got my first computer, I joined the communities and the first thing I did was try to find those sneakers. I would look for them, but I would get nothing. I would end up finding them only in 2012 – this dude from Brazil posted a picture of the sneakers. And there they were. It was them. This old dude with the sneakers on my feed! Everybody would ask him on the comments stuff like ” how are you doing?”, “say hi to your family”, and I asked, ” what sneakers are those?” (laughs). Nobody understood anything. And I would log in every single day, wasting my internet just to see if the dude had answered me. But I got nothing.
A while later I was I was in my office, looking at some Sneaker News, when it came up: ‘The iconic New Balance 1600 returns again’, ‘the 90s classic’. they even made areal a bunch of 1600s that had released in the past. But when I looked at the picture I completely froze, it was that sneaker. I couldn’t believe it, but at the time I couldn’t spend a lot of money. Those sneakers set a mark for me, what’s the moment when something was turned on inside of me. So even without money, I went to get my sneakers. They released at the store, and I believe I was one of the first ones. There was no hype or anything. They were available for a long time on the website. But I went to the store to get my pair in hand.
EVERYTHING THAT WENT DOWN WITH THE FILA GRANT HILL’S AND TUPAC, IT WAS ALL VERY NATURAL. THERE WAS NO CONTRACT, NO SPONSORS, NOTHING IT WAS SOMETHING THAT JUST HAPPENED NATURALLY. BUT NOT TODAY, EVERYTHING IS SPONSORED. EVERYTHING IS MONEY. AND WHAT I SEE HAPPENING TODAY IN THE SEEING IS THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT MIGHT NOT BE GOING TO A SNEAKER EVENT JUST BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE THAT DOPEST SNEAKER. AND STUFF LIKE THAT CAN’T HAPPEN. SNEAKER CULTURE ITSELF, THE WHOLE PRINCIPLE IS IDENTITY.