"We don't want to abandon the culture, the history that's behind every sneaker. What makes a sneaker turn into a piece of art, is the story it carries with them" – Vinicius Fonseca
It's with that kind of mentality that the guys over at SnkCult make their content. This week our interview is with the three editors behind one of the biggest sneakerhead online portals in Brazil. If you're in the scene, you wouldn't just pick any regular sneaker. Vini, Bob and Conchão brought three very special pairs for our interview.
Vini: I am Vinicius Fonseca, founder of SnkCult. I started the blog in 2014 and, as time went by, I started to pay more attention to it. But I didn‘t have the time to keep it up to date, so days and even weeks passed by without any content. Little by little I felt the need to have someone else working on the site so it could grow. That's when, in 2015 or 2016 I think, I invited Bob to write.
Bob: Bob. I work at SnkCult since the beginning of 2016 and I met Vinicius at a sneaker meeting. My entry in the blog happened because I was always late to the sneakers drops and I thought the information wasn‘t spreading like it should be, it remained in a specific niche or even a clique. Vinicius had the same perception of this ongoing trend in the market.
Vini: At the time the brazilian sneakerhead scene was still very small compared with nowadays. So me and Bob, as sneakerheads, wanted to at least have a shot at buy the sneakers we wanted. But the information took too long to arrive – we didn‘t have the time to go to the store, people were there before us. That was the idea of the blog: to spread information at the same time to everyone, so everyone could try to get their pair of shoes fairly. So this was the main idea of SnkCult, for everyone to have equal access to information. As Bob had the same view, we ended up joining forces to bring this to people.
Bob: And that was when the blog became a daily content publisher. The amount of work began to increase. We tried to work with other people, with Ingrid from Pineapple, with some other girl, Tiago also worked with us for quite some time, whom you interviewed.
Conchão: As for me, we met in a sneaker line in Guadalupe. I was always a blog reader and kept up with Vini and Bob‘s work, I always liked it very much. I already knew Bob, but Vini I didn‘t know in person. We went to this drop where nobody got the sneaker. After that, we went to a bar next to Guadalupe. And in the middle of it, after some conversation, a friend in common, Fabi, told Bob that I liked writing, that I graduated in communication, that I always liked writing very much. Then Bob goes: “Shit, we are in need of someone”. And I passed the “test” right there, it was fast.
Vini: We were in need of one more person, the team was very behind. We had one less writer because Tiago only did social media and it was only me and Bob in writing. But it was a lot of articles, 15 to 20 foreign articles a day, and keeping up with that is surreal. Apart from what we have to do for Brazil. Then this friend of ours introduced Conchão who already liked doing that, was into it, like he said, already knew the site. With other people we always did a little interview (laughs), the person sent a text. With Conchão, we were so desperate that it was like: “no, it‘s okay. Monday you can start sending in the posts”.
Conchão: Also, we had been drinking. (laughs)
How is your day-to-day work? From what you said, there's a lot of articles.
Vini: In our day-to-day we try our best to divide the work so that each of us does their share. So, each of us has a daily goal and we have to meet that amount of posts that we have in the day. We have the “flood” posts which are those from foreign countries – those are more for the content, for the person to know that it exists and it‘s being launched somewhere in the world. And the Brazil part, which we end up receiving directly from brands, is prioritized to be posted before the foreign articles. We end up getting information directly from stores and brands about what is arriving and when, so we can tell the audience as fast as possible. And always dividing between the four of us – we have a new writer, Vitor, who started just now.
Conchão: Vitor is our bro, but he isn‘t a collector or anything. We decided to do an experiment and bring someone from the outside the sneakerhead scene, who wouldn't get as emotional about the launches. (laughter)
Bob: Vitor has a different view about stuff.
I THINK OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS BRINGING MORE ELABORATE CONTENT TO PEOPLE, BECAUSE NOWADAYS INFORMATION IS TOSSED AROUND AND PEOPLE WANT EVERYTHING “CHEWED”. AND IT'S THE SITE THAT WE LIKE, OUR BIGGEST FONDNESS IS FOR THE BLOG ABOVE ANY OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA.
Conchão: I think it's important to have a person with a different view. Sometimes we have writing manias that we are already used to but the audience isn‘t. So the writing changes too. I think our biggest challenge is bringing more elaborate content to people, because nowadays information is tossed around and people want everything “chewed”. And it's the site that we like, our biggest fondness is for the blog above any other social media.
Vini: To deliver information just to deliver, there’s Instagram that is very fast, you know? We could write an outline on Instagram Stories in three sentences and the person would know the information the same way. But we have this attachment for the site to deliver deeper content, because I for example started liking more sneakers for their history. I don‘t want to let this history pass. And with so many channels starting, sometimes the content remains shallow and few people get interested in deeper content.
SnkCult is your daily dose of sneakerhead culture. We don‘t want to abandon the culture, the history behind the sneakers. What makes a sneaker an art piece is the history behind it.
Bob: Our biggest challenge is getting people to our site. What we want is for people to read, to be interested and go to our website to read richer and more elaborate content.
Since our interview with Tiago in 2017, you have grown a lot. How has this growth process been for you guys in these two years?
Vini: I think that from then to now, the brazilian sneakerhead culture grew a lot too. Be it for resales, for liking sneakers or a mix of those two. I think that it took off a lot. But, about our blog, in Google searches we are always one of the firsts.
Bob: Our organic content is strong.
Vini: It‘s very strong. Besides that, we are always in the events, at Sold Out, or in sneaker lines, we are always there. People somewhat know who is who, so we think that makes a difference. Conchão knows many of the younger folk, and me and Bob know the older guys. He’s always there chatting, passing information to people directly on the streets, not only on digital. So I think this proximity also makes us grow.
And what are the SnkCult plans for two years from now?
Vini: Fori it to get more hyped and for us to do more events (laughs). I hope that we manage to focus 100% of everybody time on just the site, because today just me and Vitor are on the site. And even that‘s why Vitor is able to do a very large share of the posts. He helps a lot. And I end up doing a bit of everything. So I even kind of abandon the site a little, because I have to work on the other segments. But I already managed to do it, if Bob does too it will be great. We want to do more work with stores, specific brands, and projects. It‘s making true the dream of a hobby turning into your daily job.
Bob: Because the hobby already became professional. And we already have a pretty strong partnership with ArtWalk.
Vini: Yes, besides the videos, we do a lot of the internal work for them for the sneaker culture curatorship. So sometimes people there don‘t know as much about sneakers, we tell them the histories. We also do all the digital content for them.
Bob: And they are the biggest retail store chain in Brazil, right? It’s epic. This partnership gave us a great push.
Vini: It was very important for us to get this. Because as Bob said, it is a giant client, they are very good, they like us and we like them a lot, what we’re doing is working out great.
Now to talk about sneakers: In which moment did you start to get into sneakers? Like, where did this passion come from?
Vini: For me it started in 2012. A friend of mine, Eric, always collected, he has always collected his entire life. We saw each other sometimes and he was always wearing some colorful and different sneakers. And I thought that was amazing, I also wanted a sneakers that drew attention (laughs). And those weren‘t at the stores, very few arrived at Kings or Maze, if at all. And then this friend introduced me to some stores, some sneakers and even some american communication vehicles about the subject. It was at this point that I started really researching about sneakers history and found out that actually each pair had a background. So then I started to really like it, researching like crazy about the Jordan, at the time there was the Air yeezy, anyway, a lot of models.
Bob: My relationship with sneakers is pretty old, since I was a kid really. Since I had a consciousness, I remember the names of my sneakers and my size for that moment of my life. When I was a size 3 I had the Cooper; when size 4 I had a sneaker called Regazone. Until I got a size 10 I remember this spectrum. The first time I really wanted to have my sneakers were at school time.
Conchão: I liked soccer boots very much, as did Bob. In school we used to play at the break and, shit, I always wanted to have a different boot. I remember the Nike Total 90, I had 4 or 5 of those. But for casual sneakers I didn‘t care so much, because I used to wear soccer boots everywhere. But then in 2014 I bought an Air Jordan One low at ArtWalk. And it was the first casual sneaker that I liked and invested in. In 2015 I managed to get an Air Jordan 4 in those Facebook selling groups, and then it started, you know? I didn‘t stop since.
36 PAIRS ARRIVED IN BRAZIL AND A 7 DAY LINE TOOK PLACE TO BUY IT. AND THIS FRIEND, WHO WAS ALREADY A SNEAKERHEAD, STAYED THE 7 DAYS IN LINE. I THOUGHT IT WAS BIZARRE, I THOUGHT: “DUDE, WHO’S THE DUMBASS WHO’LL STAY 7 DAYS IN A LINE TO BUY A SNEAKER?”. TODAY I WOULD EASILY STAY IF A RELEASE HAPPENED
And why, of all the sneakers in your collections, did you choose the Nike Air Yeezy II Solar Red, the Pure Platinum and the Vans Rowley LX OG?
Vini: I choose the Air Yeezy II Solar Red because, as I said, I started liking sneakers in 2012, that was the same year that the Air Yeezy II was released. I was already trying to understand more about sneakers and what my friend already knew. And when I searched in the foreign blogs, the first news that showed up was this sneaker that was the big hype at the time. So I saw a lot about it and I thought it was great, the design, colors, and so on. 36 pairs arrived in Brazil and a 7 day line took place to buy it. And this friend, who was already a sneakerhead, stayed the 7 days in line. I thought it was bizarre, I thought: “dude, who’s the dumbass who’ll stay 7 days in a line to buy a sneaker?”. Today I would easily stay if a release happened. Time passed, he bought the sneaker and I got a craving for one – resale already existed at the time, and the sneaker had a salty price, but not as high as it is worth today. At that time R$500 was expensive for a sneaker, nevermind R$2.000 or R$3.000.
So I thought this was a pair I would never have. But then, 4 years ago, a guy who was in the same line as my friend was reselling the sneaker. And this guy was a DJ, so he wore the sneaker a lot at clubs, really wore the sneaker down. At the same time, I knew that I would never get a pair of these sneakers new, it is too expensive, more than R$10.000. So my friend told me this DJ was selling it, that it was an amazing opportunity and that I couldn’t miss it. But obviously I didn’t have the money. So I took 3 pairs from my collection that I knew for sure that I could quickly sell it and announced in a fair price just to sell in a hurry. I sold those 3 pairs, each for R$500, total R$1.500, and I split the rest with interest.
The sneaker is already losing its sole, but it is a 7 year shoe, eventually this would happen. But no matter if it is used or not, when I laid my hands on it I was thrilled, I couldn’t even believe I bought this sneaker. So that’s why it’s one of the most important in my collection, when I started it was what I saw on the media and after a while I got it! In my head I would’ve never gotten it. It was surreal.
Bob: For me the relationship with sneakers is different, a really desired sneaker, fashionable and expensive doesn’t attract me. For me a sneaker is just a sneaker. My view is a little simpler, you know? Even though every pair has a whole history, a whole background, a marketing strategy, that for me is a shoe, which is a part of apparel and I wear it.
I chose this sneaker in my adolescence: I was starting to develop an identity, friends, personality, my formation, taste for music and for sports. Then I met a place with my friends called Hangar 110. It was a place that played Punk Rock at the time. And I saw that people wore a sneaker with a lateral strip, I didn’t even know what it was. And when you want to be a part of the group it is common that you dress alike, use slang, enjoy the same things, and I wanted the sneaker with the lateral strip. But I didn’t want it exactly like everybody‘s. I wanted the lateral strip sneaker in a different color, with different details. And that was how I discovered what Vans was. This was my first Vans, that is a version signed by the skater Geoff Rowley.
I would say that my first Vans goes directly with the brand slogan: “Off the Wall”. I wanted one, but not just like the one everybody else had. I wanted the sneaker that was from that universe but slightly different. I enjoyed not being like anyone else. And this one is a current re-issue that happened in 2018. It was re-issued by the brand’s premium line, Vans Vault. Now it’ll become a model like it was in 2000/2001. And that is why I chose it.
MY VIEW IS A LITTLE SIMPLER, YOU KNOW? EVEN THOUGH EVERY PAIR HAS A WHOLE HISTORY, A WHOLE BACKGROUND, A MARKETING STRATEGY, THAT FOR ME IS A SHOE, WHICH IS A PART OF APPAREL AND I WEAR IT.
WHEN I STARTED COLLECTING IN 2015, I RESEARCHED WHICH ONES WERE THE MOST EXPENSIVE, MOST ICONIC, AND THE AIR YEEZY II RED OCTOBER, O SOLAR E O PURE PLATINUM ALWAYS CAME UP. THEY’RE ONE OF THOSE UNIMAGINABLE, TOP 10 SNEAKERS YOU WILL NEVER GET IN YOUR LIFE, BECAUSE OF THE PRICE AND OF THE LIMITATIONS
Conchão: Well, the sneaker I chose is the Nike Air Yeezy II too but in the Pure Platinum version. This colorway was also launched in 2012, also came to Brazil in the same way as the Solar, but a little earlier.
At the time I wasn’t tuned into sneakers. When I started collecting in 2015, I researched which ones were the most expensive, most iconic, and the Air Yeezy II Red October, o Solar e o Pure Platinum always came up. They’re one of those unimaginable, top 10 sneakers you will never get in your life, because of the price and of the limitations – 36 pairs came to Brazil, a lot of those must have gone abroad, those that stayed were screwed up or the person won’t sell it. We know many people that have the DS sneaker, don’t sell it and never will; or will someday for astronomic prices.
And this friend Vini talked about in the beginning, Eric, who is my friend too, had both – Solar and Pure Platinum. He bought both of them at the store. He got it to wear, so he wore them a lot, without pity. And then last year, he decided to sell both. Because, as every nike sneaker, hydrolysis happened, the sole was coming loose. I remember to this day that at Maze Fest, we went to Eric‘s booth and I saw both of them together – I went crazy because it is very hard to see those selling, even more so from a friend of yours. But it was a price I couldn’t afford. I had no means. And it was sold very fast, even with the hydrolysis, and I knew the kid who bought it. The kid went to do the swap process for the sole – he got a Nike Air Tech Challenge and sent it to TND Sneakers to do the replacement. And after that the sneaker got pricier, he had to bought the Tech Challenge and pay the replacement service.
But then one day I was talking to him and asked: “Shit, do you think about selling your Air Yeezy II?”. And he goes “It’s at TND getting the sole replaced. Don’t you want to make a game?”. And then I went nuts and I wouldn’t back down until he accept. This sneaker is going to be mine. It was a unique opportunity, I wouldn’t get another. I don’t even know anyone that has this sneaker in the same size to try anything. Anyway, I used to have the Nike Air Presto Off-White OG that was worth a lot, the sneaker was at a high still and wasn’t in the groups for buying. And the boy liked Off-White. I told him: “I give it and some more cash”. He liked the idea, we talked and he accepted. I even got it renovated. I went to get it ready at TND with Tiago. It was crazy, unbelievable. To this day I look at it in my feet and can’t believe it.
And out of curiosity, did you count how many pairs you have?
Vini: I don‘t have the exact amount, but it is more than 150.
Conchão: I am going to travel this year, so I sold a lot. I think I sold around 7 or 8 pairs in the beginning of the year. And pairs I wore, so now I must have around 35 pairs. I think that the hardest thing in my trip was choosing the sneakers. I decided to take only 10. It couldn‘t be less. There’s no way. (laughs)
Nike Air Yeezy II Solar Red
Owner: Vinicius Fonseca
Nike Air Yeezy II Pure Platinum
Owner: Lucas Conchão
Vans Rowley LX OG
Photos by: Deko