The creative director on hype, the hottest kicks and the future of sneakers

Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Images: Supplied

Last year we saw the ugly sneaker at its peak, high-tops making a comeback and white sneakers reigning supreme. If 2019 is anything to go by, 2020 ain’t seen nothing yet. So what interesting designs, profiles, collaborations and innovation can we look forward to in the sneaker world? We’ve turned to some of South Africa’s top sneaker experts to share their insider knowledge. This week, the influential creative director and massive sneaker collector Boogy Maboi gives us the scoop on upcoming trends, the sneakers she’s loving and her take on hype.


What’s your opinion on the state of sneaker culture?

I don’t have an opinion, because I'm a part of sneaker culture. I wear sneakers all the time.

And the nature of hype?

Five years ago, sneaker culture was very much for sneakerheads, people who enjoyed streetwear and street style. Today, street style has become mainstream fashion and all the big designer brands are doing it. The first thing luxury brands appropriated was the sneaker. It used to represent a type of person, but now anyone can wear them. We were once limited to the major sports brands, now you can’t talk sneakers and not mention Balenciaga. Luxury fashion has turned sneakers into flip-flops – everyone wears flip-flops. For sneakerheads, there was a close proximity to hip-hop and hip-hop culture. There used to be an honest connection between streetwear culture and hype. It’s not like that anymore.


The fashion industry is at a crossroads between streetwear, sneaker culture and luxury fashion. Do you think these spheres will always be merged?

Yes, because your sneakerheads are your OGs. When everyone gets off the trend, the sneakerheads will come out again, which isn’t to say sneakerheads have stopped wearing sneakers. They just aren’t doing it for the streets anymore, because the culture has been diluted so much by luxury brands and fast fashion. When the trend dies, as all trends do, we’ll have a separation between streetwear, sneaker culture and luxury fashion.


What sneaker do you own that you’re loving right now?

I buy a lot of sneakers. I try to buy myself a pair once a month to add to the collection. I recently bought my first pair of Off-White Waffle Racers and I also just bought myself a pair of Nike Shox’s – I’ve always wanted them. They’re classic, they’re street sneakers. They remind me of guys from the ‘hood. There’s a cool nostalgia about them.

And what do you look for in a sneaker? How many pairs do you own?

My goodness! Too many. When it comes to what I look for, I’m playing catchup. If you’re a sneaker collector and you collect Jordans, for example, if Michael Jordan didn’t play in the shoe, then it’s not an important shoe to you. Nike and Michael Jordan are not usually making new styles, they release different colourways over time. When I’m looking for sneakers, I start with what I need to catch up on from the classic drops. I also look at my collection and see where I need to fill in and stay current with the trends.


What do you think makes a sneaker a classic?

The story behind the design and the moment it came out. Like with Jordans, maybe Michael Jordan had the flu or he scored however many points or it’s about when he wore the ‘Banned’ Jordan 1 sneakers and why.

What do you think sneakers will look like for the rest of the year? Are there general trends that will dominate?

I’m really excited about Pyer Moss as a brand. I love Kerby Jean-Raymond’s signature design and aesthetic – reimagining sneakers. If we’re talking about 2020, the only sneaker we need to be holding our seats for is one of Raf Simons’. At fashion week, he previewed a sneaker that’s a hybrid between a boot that Prince would’ve worn and a cool sneaker. This sneaker is going to lead the way and influence everybody else who’s making sneakers. We also have people who are known as the custodians of street culture, such as Virgil Abloh, working in luxury. It now feels like we’re on a journey with him and his peers. Wherever they go, that’s how we’ll know what will happen to streetwear and sneaker culture. I think we’ll see a new wave. It’ll be very different, a little bit punk, a little bit grunge. The London boy aesthetic, a little bit of dandyism, which is so strong in Africa. Hopefully, the African diaspora has the answer.


How do you think sustainability will impact current and future sneakers?

It’s going to be big. The first sneaker brand to create a biodegradable sneaker or to make it out of recyclable products is really going to be the one to change the game. We’re ready. The time is now. I think it may even come from Africa. I see people using different materials to make sneakers more sustainable. I’m so excited to see where that goes.