In Belo Horizonte, sneaker culture has a home at Nëphëw Clothing, our interview of the week. We sat down with its founder, Vitor Sobrinho, and talked about his inspiration behind his streetwear brand, his creative process and his expansion to São Paulo. And of course, we talked about his relationship with sneakers, especially his Adidas NMD XR1 Consortium x Titolo, a partnership between Adidas and the famous sneaker store.
“I am Vitor Sobrinho, I’m 34 years old, I’m a businessman and DJ. Nëphëw was born at the end of 2012 just as a clothing brand focused exclusively on e-commerce. Because I’m a DJ, I had the experience of living in the US for a year and to be in contact with other brands, and when I got back, I felt like the Brazilian and especially BH streetwear scene, was only just starting to have brands that had an actual lifestyle behind them and that have some sort of connection with music – which is my passion, what drives me. So that’s when I decided to create Nëphëw, a brand inspired by a music and DJ lifestyle, by street culture with a touch of Hip-Hop, but also with some electronic music and House – which are some of my inspirations.
In 2014 we opened up our first store over at Prado. We always looked to support local culture, the community, so since we started the brand, we have produced all of our stuff, 80% of our production is done by us we have our own seamstresses and our own team. And Nëphëw is a family company, it started out as my idea with support from my mom, and today my sister is also a part of the company.
After a while, we felt the need for bringing sneakers along with the brand. We always knew that one thing complemented the other. A customer that likes sneakers has everything to do with what we create here. We started out just selling Vans, New Balance, Adidas and today we have also Converse and Fila. In 2015 we opened up the second store, and in 2016 we opened up the store in São Paulo and in 2018 we opened up the store here in Belo Horizonte, which is this one we’re in today, in Savassi.”
Where does the name “Nëphëw” come from?
vitorMy name is Vitor Sobrinho, and when I thought of creating the brand, I thought on using my last name witches nephew in English.
Not only do you create your own clothing, but you also make your own accessories as well. It’s the full package. Would you like to make your own sneaker one day?
vitorNowadays we do basically everything there is to do in clothing, we have underwear, socks, slippers, accessories if the person wants to be the store dressed in full Nëphëw clothing, they can. We already make sliders, and we’re working on some boots in partnership with Black Boots, which we’re going to release soon, but I never had the intention of making a sneaker, but I would certainly like to do a collab.
Why did you feel there was a need for a Nëphëw store in São Paulo?
vitorOur brand has always been focused on e-Commerce, and since the beginning, 60% of our sales were concentrated in São Paulo. And we also resale to other stores which were also mostly concentrated in the state of São Paulo. So we saw São Paulo as a possibility to expand the brand. Here in BH, Dez Bryant was already pretty well-known, it worked well, everybody should know about it probably already knew about it, so we wanted to try out something outside BH and try to expand the brand in a national level. That was our intention.
It’s so cool to see that for some people Nëphëw has become a reference here in BH, of course, we’re still the process of creating that, what does stainless steel small. We really try to build a community so we can be close to the people and our clients. We really try to bring our clients as close to us as we can, to hang out, we also throw a lot of events to bring everybody together, we really try to create that connection.
What’s your creative process when it comes to creating a new collection?
vitorFirst, we look at all the tendencies that are going on, what people are wearing out there and what makes it’s way over here. From those Tendencies we try to build the collection, for example, last summer we saw that there was going to be a lot of Neon, animal print, flowery shirts so we thought why don’t we put that all together within a theme and make that into a collection. And that’s how we came up with the “Jamaica no problem” collection, where we brought this mix of tendencies together Within a theme that’s connected to music, the Jamaican Dancehall, the Reggae.
Usually, we drop two collections a year, and within those two collections we put out new stuff all the time. They are capsules within the collections, for example, the Jamaican collection dropped at the end of November, by the end of December there was new stuff coming in the store, and again at the end of January. Now there’s a new part of the collection coming out that’s still high the Jamaica theme but it’s not a part of the summer or the winter collection, it’s something in the middle.
What are the plans for Nëphëw for the years to come?
vitorI’m a very uneasy guy, I opened up for stores in very little time in the middle of a recession, and now I want to open another one (laughs). I’m looking for something else to do, I know I’m going to open up another store, I would like to have another store in São Paulo but more focused on Nëphëw clothing. And here in BH, we were thinking of doing something for our female costumers, in streetwear and sneakers as well.
“I always really liked sneakers but I’ve never been much of a collector. There’s few that I really like and those are the ones I have. So, when is theirs’s a sneaker that I really like I wear them nonstop until they’re done and then I get another one.”
What’s your relationship with sneakers in general?
vitorI’ve always loved sneakers, they always been a part of my life because I only wore sneakers, I used to skateboard a lot as well and the sneakers you were wearing made all the difference. It’s funny because today you can really tell a lot about a person’s personality just by looking at what sneakers they are wearing. Sometimes it’s the first thing I do when I meet a person, I will look at what they got on their feet. It’s easier to describe the person by what she is wearing than just by talking (laughs). But anyway, I always really liked sneakers but I’ve never been much of a collector. There’s few that I really like and those are the ones I have. So, when is theirs’s a sneaker that I really like I wear them nonstop until they’re done and then I get another one. I don’t get too attached, I just throw them away, or give them to donation. Last year I donated around 15 pairs, you know? I think it’s a shame to have that many shoes in your closet that are not even being used. You have to really pass them on, use them, I mean, of course, there are those special ones that you have more attachment and that we hold on to, but I really have no intent on having a room full of sneakers.
“The first thing I thought when you guys called me was that I was going to pick and Adidas sneaker because Nëphëw is at the level that it is only because they were one of the brands that really opened their doors for me, they believed in my story and in my work.”
And why out of your entire collection did you pick this Adidas NMD XR1 Consortium x Titolo?
vitorThe first thing I thought when you guys called me was that I was going to pick and Adidas sneaker because Nëphëw is at the level that it is only because they were one of the brands that really opened their doors for me, they believed in my story and in my work. Salvador came here to see Nëphëw, we started to get the new releases and that made all the sense so we could be what we are today.
The second reason is that I got them on an unforgettable trip I did with some friends. The third reason is that I love white sneakers even though they’re the worst to wear because they get dirty all the time (laughs). And the fourth reason is that I’m a big fan of Titolo, is there a major reference to me. I loved the construction of the sneaker, the materials and especially the story behind them. From what I read on the internet, Titolo Swedish brand and the inspiration came from the formation of the country itself, from glaciers – so the white bits of the sneaker represents ice in the blue on the outside represents the water that melts from the glaciers. It’s the sneaker that has some story behind it it’s not just a model that was made out of nowhere.