Artist Kaylin Car talks stepping up her comfort game, her all-time sneaker grail + what’s on her feet right now.

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Words: Leila Petersen | Images: Supplied

Artist and concept designer Kaylin Car’s love for sneakers is no secret. Woven into her works of art, sneaker silhouettes can always be seen in some way, shape, or form.

Working in the sneaker industry for over a decade - along with the influence of ‘80s and ‘90s streetwear, music, and subculture - has given Kaylin the ability to create unique illustrations. As a result, she has even collaborated with major brands, including Johnny Walker.

This concept designer has also worked closely with Kent, owner of Alpha Longboards, to develop skate deck art concepts and apparel.

We chat to the creative on how her love for sneakers began, what’s currently on her feet and which sneaker style is her all-time grail.

When or how did your love for sneakers begin?

I think growing up in a certain part of Cape Town, your style becomes subconsciously influenced by what you see. I suppose growing up in the early ‘90s, the music and television shows I watched at the time also had a lot to do with it.

What’s on your feet right now?

Well, I’m answering this from my desktop and I don’t wear shoes in my apartment, so socks haha! But all jokes aside, I’ve really started falling in love with Vans slip-ons again. The 18-year-old first year design student version of me would approve.

Possibly a reflection of my age, but I’ve become way more relaxed with my wardrobe. Comfort is everything, and having to tie my laces sometimes seems way too tedious - it’s the last thing on my mind. I mean, I do still have a few pairs of Air Max in my weekly rotation when I do decide to leave my place and be a human for a few hours.

If your sneaker collection could speak, what do you think it would say?

“You know you haven’t worn me in over a year, right?”

Which sneakers are currently on your wishlist?

I don’t really have a “wishlist”, but I really like the Air Max collaborations Skepta has been putting out with Nike.

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What’s your fondest sneaker memory?

I have so many, it’s really hard to pick one.

I think the year 2000 when there was this crazy Cortez wave in [South Africa] - I remember being in grade seven and really wanting a pair. I spent an entire Saturday missioning around trying to find my size and eventually found a pair at a store called American Clothing. It was this small store in Town Centre (Mitchells Plain) right next to Pick ‘n Pay (if you know, you know ).

I recall it being this almost weirdly euphoric feeling trying to find my size and then finally, getting my hands on a pair. It was full black leather with a white swoosh. I even tried to grab a pair recently in the same colourway, but couldn’t find the exact one.

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You are one of the few women making waves in the industry as a sneakerhead. What does this mean to you and how would you like to see the sneaker industry evolve?

I’ve never considered myself to be “making waves”. I’m flattered though; that my weird fascination over sneakers and art has put me in rooms where my opinion is valued. I suppose that’s God and not me.

If I’m honest, I do what I like without feeling like I should be concerned with anyone’s opinion on what is appealing to me. It’s not that hard being authentic when you really don’t care about anyone’s opinion other than your own.

I like the direction the sneaker industry has started to take with regards to actually recognising that women play a big part in driving so much of what influences trends in the sneaker world. It’s been amazing watching it evolve from a very male-dominated space to having women get to carve their own voice amongst all of the “boy”noise. I think people tend to forget that the original designer of the Nike Swoosh is actually a woman. If that doesn’t make anyone see that women, as a collective, have actually been in this from the start then we might as well head into a regression.

We are important to the sneaker industry and always have been. I would like to see more women get to own spaces within the sneaker community for creativity and knowledge, not just because they own hundreds of pairs and jumped onto a trend. There's more to this than the horrible attention and "influencer monster” it has somewhat turned into.

I know I don't just speak for myself when I say this, but there are many "collectors" and "heads"( for lack of better descriptors) who have personal experiences of needing to own a specific pair. It really isn't about a "hype"release or the need to feel like you need to have a specific pair to "fit in". But still, different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

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