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“where my killa tape at…?”
I’m an old head. In this day and age of mp3’s and cd’s, I actually kinda miss cassette tapes. I mean they’re inconvenient if you wanna hear a particular song, but as far as a tangible music source, I dig em.
A few years back, one of my first reconstructed sneakers was the “Purple Tape AF1”, based on Raekwons Only Built 4 Cuban Linx cassette tape. Aside from being a certifiable classic, I always thought it was dope that the tape was purple, and I wanted to pay homage.
Thing is, the craftsmanship wasn’t the best. The concept was there, but I needed more practice. Fast Forward to 2011, I was asked to recreate them, and a pair based on Nas’ Illmatic cassette as well. With my reconstruction skills up to snuff, I was ready for the task.
Both pair feature lined paper graphics with song lyrics from each respective tape. On top of that, there’s actual cassette tape strewn across for added realism. “…one love keep it real yo…” The mid panels are transparent images of the actual tapes and are topped with transparent swooshes to boot.
When Nike developed a series of LA-centric Kobe VI’s (3D’s, Orange County/Sunsets, East La)
in relation to the NBA all-star game being in LA, I decided I wanted to make a few of my own LA themed Kobe’s, since I’d be in LA for the festivities.
The 1st pair I did was based on the LA smog…you can see those here:
Once I saw the “Glass Blue” VI’s,
I felt they’d be a perfect base shoe for my next concept…Venice Beach!
Ever since I saw the movie White Men Can’t Jump, I’ve wanted to play at Venice Beach. The idea of hooping right off the ocean was so dope to me, so Venice has always held a special place in my heart.
But Nike threw me a curve ball and didn’t release the Glass Blues in time for my LA trip. I was still determined to make this shoe a reality, so when I hit LA, I visited Venice, and was able to bring back some sand with me. I held onto it till I was able to get my hands on the base shoes…
This is also my “response” to the Lebron 8 “South Beach” shoes,
but in keeping with my need for “realism” or authenticity in my work (see Magneto AF1 with magnetic swoosh, tennis ball customs made of felt, Hardwood Classics with genuine basketball rubber, etc), I wanted to go further than a colorway and actually incorporate sand…and sand from Venice Beach no less. These shoes feature sand colored paint work, with sand on each individual scale. The glass blue midsole, and glitter filled outsole, perfectly represent the Pacific Ocean. To finish them off, I dyed the tongues and liner black and painted the swooshes black as well.
Destroy to Create. That’s the tagline Nike came up with for their Destroyer Jacket line. It’s a phrase that is so fitting for what I do…break a shoe down (destroy) to make a completely new shoe (create).
I was contacted to come up with a UCONN inspired shoe on a Lebron 8 base. At the time, the Destroyer Jackets were getting a lot of pub and I’ve always been a fan of lettermen jackets. The contrast of the wool body with the leather sleeves, and the chenille patches appeal to me, and I decided to apply this to a pair of shoes.
I came with the dark navy melton wool and dark navy kid leather. The base shoes already had a bright red tongue which fit perfectly within the UCONN color scheme. A white chenille swoosh made the shoe complete.
To go the extra mile, I made the box resemble a lettermen jacket as well. Wrapped in the same melton wool, red snaps and chenille letters, the box compliments the shoes, and makes what I feel is a pretty awesome package lol
Check the video to see some of the construction process
I guess you COULD say I’m a poser. I mean who makes a 4/20 shoe, but doesn’t even smoke? Me, that’s who. Although, to be honest, these shoes are less about the cannabis, and more about the container it comes in when bought legally. That little amber bottle.
The green suede liner with sparse purple stitching, reference the bottles contents, while the upper itself is done up entirely in a transparent orange vinyl. The white patent leather heel tab represents the bottles cap, and the purple sole reveals the strain of choice.
This shoe almost didn’t get made. There were at least 420 setbacks; flu like symptoms, material inflexibility, the midsole being the wrong shade of orange, and a slew of technical difficulties; but with rumors of the “Cheech and Chong” dunk being cancelled, I felt the need to rep for my friends that do use….for medicinal purposes only of course.
So I’m finally home and I’m re-energized and ready to work.
Vegas and LA were great. I did the usual things you do in Vegas this time of year. A little gambling, a little shopping, a lot of eating. I hit Magic 1 day, which I gotta say, was a lot different than it was in the past. I got to check out some of the new hotels. The Aria is DOPE. Period. The Bellagio is my favorite Vegas locale, BUT the Aria is giving it a run for its money. That waterfall out front alone is worth the price of admission.
The Cosmopolitan had a store (I forget the name) that had a ton of OG sewing machines in the window. I thought that was so dope. I wanted one since its one of my tools of the trade.
One thing I did out of the ordinary was to hit the Las Vegas leg of Dunkxchange. I didn’t expect many people, but to my pleasant surprise, it was packed! The turnout was excellent. I came through in my Son of a Beach (i.e. South Beach) AF1′s which I believe were the only customs in attendence.
I was surprised I didn’t see any actual SB LBJ VIII’s because I wanted a comparison pic. I swear I didn’t see this many “snapbacks” even when they were actually poppin back in the 80′s lol I think me and my dude Darrell were the only guys NOT wearing 1. Such rebels, and near UNLV no less. I actually got recognized by a guy I met at Shoe Shine in Denver which is always a trip for me. I got to feel like a big deal for a tenth of a second lol. The best part of the night was when we were leaving. Dudes usually bring out their heat when attending sneaker events like this and everybody checks out what everybody else is wearing. Darrell isn’t a sneaker head by any stretch of the imagination, and as we walked out he noticed dudes checkin my shoes and giving the nod of approval till they looked at his everyday comfortable basic sneakers, which induced the gas face LMAO
The last day we were in Vegas we were in the forums shop and ran across a guy that was hand making women’s shoes in-store! It was really cool for me to see. I was a lil let down to realize he was only making the straps, but nonetheless, I dug getting to see it live. I really wanted to talk to dude and ask a million questions, but nobody else was on that, and he looked busy.
Thursday we hit the road to LA. I’ve heard that the drive is nothing but desert. I guess I thought that was an exaggeration. It wasn’t. All desert, all the time. I had to resort to the alphabet game. We didn’t find the “Z” till we saw “Zippy Lube” in Barstow, CA.
We were based outta Torrance cause hotels IN LA were booked solid or way too pricey.
Friday I hit the streets in my Kobe Smog VI’s. I’m a low-key guy so it always amuses me when people react to my shoes. I got some questions about them and handed out a few business cards and stickers. I guess you’re doing it right as a customizer when people don’t believe that your shoes are customized. While in Beverly Center we got to see this huge Black Mamba display. I took a couple pics in front of it when Darrell had a brilliant idea. “Let’s put your shoe in the mouth of the Mamba!” Some guys were there to take the display down and Darrell convinced them to let us sneak the shoe in real quick. Whoever you guys are, thanks! This is a cell pic, but Darrell’s wife has a better actual camera pic that I need.
I got introduced to the Grand Lux Cafe and their box of cookies. Yes please.
After that we hit Staples to take in the sights and sounds, and met up with Mark and P for dinner at the ESPN Zone while watching a replay of the Rookie Game.
Saturday, I got to hit Venice Beach. I live on the west coast near water, but I rarely get to see the actual ocean. It was kinda epic. The weather SUCKED, but I didn’t care. We went out on the pier, and then made our way down to the courts. It was raining pretty well, and we didn’t have a rock with us, or I woulda got some shots up. I loved it so much; I took some sand to bring the beach back home with me.
That night we met up with P, Mark and Claude to catch the 3pt/Dunk contest and had a blast!
Later we went to a bowling alley to bowl and do some karaoke. Words cannot express the horror I witnessed at that karaoke bar. A multi racial, partially clothed, 50 years and over simulated orgy to the sounds of “Let’s Get it On”. I’m scarred for life. I had to get outta there, and while in the black lights of the bowling alley, I took some dope pics of my Christmas Kobe’s. These are NOT Glow In the Dark Kobe’s that I customized, although from some responses, maybe I should have done that lol
Sunday I broke out the YOTR Kobe’s since they had similar colors to the West ASG uniforms. We hit Staples again and got some souvenirs and took in the ambience. We got in the Nike Vault. One of the workers convinced us that they still had 3D Kobe’s in stock! They didn’t, and I’m mad I allowed myself to fall for the okie doke.
We hit Beverly again cause I had to get some more of those cookies before we caught the game. On the way back, I actually got to see a Banksy piece in person which was dope for me cause I was re-watching “Exit through the Giftshop” on the flight down.
After the game, we hit the hotel and got packing while watching To Catch a Predator. That’s how you close out a Sunday night. I still don’t know how I got all my stuff along with the new stuff packed, but I did. Yay me.
We had to get up maaaaaaaaaaaaad early to head home and LAX was PACKED. I swear if they had cots for rent at the airport, I’d pay big money cause I was beat.
When we got home, why did our ride lock the keys in the car on the arrivals ramp? I ended up having to wait for a tow truck and pay $70 to get the door open. I got home around 2pm and slept till Tuesday.
Here are a few random pics
(those are my Blake Griffin Air Force 1′s. Peep the vid here Blake Griffin Air Force 1 video *click me*)
Overall though the trip was sick.
These aren’t the 1st shoes I’ve done in 2011 but they’re the 1st pair I can share with you.
I present to you the “Smog Kobe VI’s”. I wanted to do a shoe that tied into Los Angeles, and looked cool in the process. This pair features a smog grey gradient paint job on the scales, with a reflective metallic purple background. Kobe, if you need a pair for your next game, I got you. If YOU need a pair, hit me up and I’ll whip up a pair for you too
so I had a pretty good week sneaker-wise. I was invited down to Denver, CO for the 2nd annual Sneaker Prom, and the 5th Shoe Shine! This was my 1st Sneaker Prom, and my 2nd Shoe Shine.
I had battery issues with my camera the 1st night I was in town so I didn’t get to take any pics, but downtown Denver is a very nice place. Once I got my camera situation straightened out, it was time for Sneaker Prom. its a cool event that has party go-ers dress up in prom dresses, tuxedos, and suits, but instead of hard bottoms, you break out your illest sneakers! I kept it simple and rocked an all black suit with a copper tie, and the copper foamposite 1′s. I was gonna rock the fitted, but decided to let the waves get some shine lol. (click pics to enlarge)
I don’t go out a ton, but I must say the venue itself was pretty dope. When we pulled up, one of the main sponsors of the events had a custom painted Mini out front. It was painted like a Nike shoe, complete with actual laces!
The party was great. I was there solo so I played the cut for the most part, but the vibe felt good. You could tell everybody was having fun. So I came through with my guy Ra, in the all canary yellow tux. When I say all yellow, I mean ALL yellow…yellow everything! He put Gucci Mane to shame lol
I assumed that was gonna be the most outrageous outfit of the night. I was wrong. As I talked to one of the hostesses, out of the corner of my eye, I saw what appeared to be…nah it couldn’t be……….yes, it was. A dude came through dressed like King Joffy Joffer, from Coming To America! Complete with the ill lion wrap! My dude came off the street and was gettin it in! I liked that he was down to have fun with it all.
Overall it was a good event.
Afterward, Ra took me to another lil night spot and I saw how Denver really got down. I was a lil overdressed to be in an “urban” night club(did I really just call it an “urban” night club? lol) but I enjoyed myself. The highlight of the night may have been the “after the club, rib eye steak sammiches”! I usually rock with “after the club hot dogs”, but these steak sammiches shut that down! I cant eat another hot dog after a club.
Saturday was the day of the main event. We hit the venue to do a lil prep work then went to go watch Ra’s sons b-ball game. We were there to watch his son, but yo…..there was some kid on his team that was NICE! A lil 7 year old with handle, tip passes, and floaters for days! I’m confident in saying the kid had a triple double easy! I regret not getting his name or capturing some BB video, cause I KNOW in about 10-12 years, we’re gonna hear about some kid outta Denver that is shuttin the league down.
Anyway, we ran a few other errands, got some grub, then hit the spot to set up.
The Mini-Nike was out front again(I love this car), and seeing it just got me amped up for what was about to go down.
Once I got set up, I got to mingle and see some of the other cool stuff that was on display. One guy(I forget his name) had 3D sneakers! I was excited and pissed all at once. Pissed cause I’m working on a 3D shoe myself, but amped cause I love the idea, and it was cool to see that it actually worked, although my shoes will be the ol’school red/cyan type 3D…..but I digress. I tried to get a pic of it, but the cam didn’t pick it up
I’ve done a couple snowboard boots for the fellas down in CO, and they had some of them on display. My 1st pair of Boba Fett boots weren’t there, but my second pair based on a satellite was. They got crushed by some of the other ill boots. If I ever get another chance, I’m goin ALL OUT!
There was an array of cool photography throughout the venue. The Signtologist had some sick pieces up too. He uses street signs like STOP or YIELD signs as the canvas for his art, and it always looks super dope with flash photography.
A number of local artists were commissioned to customize Nike Royal Mids as well as basketball backboards. They did not disappoint.
I went to step out on what I thought was the balcony, only to realize that it lead out to what I’d call a mini-amphitheater. There were photos, custom skateboard decks, and clothing vendors lining the walls. They even had a local barber there giving out fresh cuts. I coulda used one, but I was too busy having fun.
Most of the backboards were dope, but a few of the artists went above and beyond.
one was a Dilla backboard complete with working speakers built in and done over a broken vinyl record texture
another was a Last Dragon-Sho Nuff themed backboard. That was cool enough, but the topper was that the backboard lit up! The master indeed! (peep the end of the video)
I think my favorite backboard was made by the guy that had my favorite pair of Royals. I forget his name, but something about his style really did it for me.
I was on the judging panel for the best custom shoes, which was an honor. I was in the minority though, as the 3D pair won.
This particular pair went under my radar. I originally thought it was just black artwork on a white shoe. But it was later explained to me that the artist hand engraved the artwork! I’m mad that my camera couldn’t pick up the detail, but trust me, its pretty fresh.
Overall I had a GREAT time! I met a bunch of really cool people that made me feel right at home. I’ve got a pocket full of business cards and emails that I still need to get to.
Its a really good feeling to get to have people see your work in person and get to explain it to them and see that light come on. You can only get so much from a picture or video on the web. That hands on, in person response is what really does it. I’ve never seen people react to shoes the way I saw people react to the Iron Man dunks or the “Ehlo” IV’s.
Shoe Shine 2010 (click link to see video)
I wanna thank all the organizers, especially Ra and Musa for bringing me down and treating me like royalty.
so while I was at the airport waiting to go home, I was on Facebook and found out about an event called the NW Sneaker Expo. I shot off a couple emails and was able to be included int he festivities. I ended up just bringing the bag of shoes i had in Denver with me. I assumed it was gonna be a simple event that allowed me to set up my shoes to have people check them out along with a slew of local vendors and sneaker heads. As it turned out, the sneaker displays were actually a sneaker battle. I wasn’t ready for this lol. We had to pick our 5 best shoes and have them go head to head against another sneaker head. In the end I won, but I kinda feel like it was unfair since I had 1 of 1′s that light up and had LED screens and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I took the “W” and the prize money lol, but I personally feel one of the other competitors had a better set of shoes. He had a Seattle/206 theme with some of my favorite Paytons, the SC AM 95′s (#206 no less!), the Kendal Gill Seattle X’s, OG Griffey’s, and Tiffany dunks, which he felt fit since we are the Emerald City lol. Works for me
after that was done, there was a freestyle battle that I HAVE to get video posted up for. Words do it no justice lol!
so its October 2010, and Kanye West is due to drop a new album very soon. If you’ve followed along with shoes I’ve made in the past, you know that Kanye albums tend to be inspiration for my work. I’ve done shoes based on all of his albums except Late Registration.
The 1st shoe that got me any kind of notoriety was based on College Dropout, which was a 1 of 1 pair of dunks that started my whole “picture shoe” phase.
The idea came from the popularity of the Paris Dunks. I liked the idea of them, more than the actual shoe, and thought it would be cool if a sneaker had a similar concept, but with something I actually liked.
Kanye was gaining alot of popularity at the time, and I felt like meshing Kanye with a Paris dunk theme was a perfect idea. I never was a great painter, and knew I couldn’t paint portraits of ‘Ye all over a shoe, so I needed some other way to get his images on the shoes. As it was, I happened to have a pack of iron-on t-shirt transfers that I’d planned to use to make shirts with, only I didn’t have a subject I felt was worthy of a shirt. I figured I could “make my own” Kanye fabric to use, and achieve the look I was going for. In the end, it worked out exactly as I’d imagined and I couldn’t have been more happy with the outcome.
I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t make shoes for Late Registration. I think part of it is that I didn’t really care for the album much. That, and the fact that there was no real visual imagery that I felt strongly enough about to warrant a shoe.
When the Graduation album came out, I knew it was gonna be big. Kanye had already made a mark with the Stronger video…especially when he broke out the “shutter shades”.
He got Murakami to do the albums actual artwork, and it was a wrap! Dope art work + dope music = the ingredients for a potentially dope shoe!
I had the hyacinth Mita dunks laying around that I’d originally bought from my dude Keith to customize, but I never had the right idea and they sat in a box. Studying the cover artwork, I knew the shoe was gonna be purple based, and instead of buying new shoes, I used the Mitas I already had. I didn’t really know what I was gonna do with them, I just knew that I wanted to focus on the bear as the main point of inspiration. After a few days of brainstorming, and talking with fellow customizers, I decided to implement faux-bear fur as well as the iconic glasses worn in the Stronger video. I didn’t really expect anyone to like the shoes at all, so I was surprised when they got such a great response.
Then came the 808′s and Heartbreak album. Of all the Kanye themed shoes I’ve done, I think I’ve done the most 808′s. Air Forces, Chuck Taylor All Stars, and even Adidas Superstars. When planning on doing them, my original thought was to make the majority of the shoe in a fabric similar to the suit he wore in pics from the album artwork. I was going to have either the side panels, or the swooshes made of wrinkled red rubber to represent the balloon heart on the cover of the album and replace the Nike Air tongue tags with embroidered hearts with the horizontal break. Before I got to it, I was approached by Mache to do a collaboration. I’d do the fabric work and he’d mimic the Kaws artwork. When we finally completed them, they received tons of praise and all was good.
I still wanted to do the balloon idea, and that’s when I came with the Chuck Taylor version. I replaced the All-Star badges with hearts made of actual red balloons to keep the look and feel of the shoes authentic.
A while later, I wanted to re-address the Kaws aspect of the albums artwork, and that’s when I did the Adidas Superstars. The majority of the upper is done in the suit fabric with Kaws’ artwork used on the stripes as well as the liner.
I’m currently finishing up a variation of these that will probably be the last I ever do.
I look forward to the new music and hope it provides some dope imagery to ignite another shoe to add to my Kanye portfolio.
Its been a long time comin…but the site is finally revamped, and ready to roll! This version of emmanuelabor.com will be updated on a regular basis. You can also buy shoes direct from the site, as well as get custom orders done. I wanna thank everyone that had a hand in making this a reality. if not for you, I’d still have pics from 2003 posted lol.
Moving forward, Sunday September 5th was the date of the website relaunch party. It wasnt really my idea…Im more of a low key guy, but Im glad my friends convinced me to do it. It gave people the chance to actually see some of my work in person, as opposed to seeing it exclusively on a computer or cellphone screen. We held it at Urbanity in the U-District(Lee, thanks a million man!) and overall it was a relief to have it go down. Thank you to everybody that came through! For those that couldnt make it, you missed the debut of my UNDRCRWN dunks, Air Foam 1′s, Iron Man/War Machine dunks, Ehlo IV’s, Darth Vader Blazers, Original Fake Dissected dunks, and Concord hybrids(I hate calling them fusions…theres such a negative connotation with that word nowdays). In addition I brought along a few other pairs that some of you may be familiar with like the infamous Graduation dunks, as well as my Space Jam hybrids, and my highlight film AJ1′s. Check the pics and the vid, and thanks for stopping by!