When it comes to the world of streetwear and sneakers, Boston’s favorite son is Frank The Butcher. So when it came time for Reebok Classic to celebrate 30 years of the Reebok Classic Leather, they knew just who to call. While the shoe dropped in March, we figured now was as good a time as any to get up with Frank to chat about how the project came to fruition, the design inspiration and how his latest project, Business As Usual, came together in the process.
Interview by Brandon Edler (@MrBrando3)
So how did this project come to fruition?
I’m not one to jump out the window for every project, you know? So I just try to make them count. There was finally a project that made sense to me and they asked me to be involved with the celebration of the Classic Leather. And at first I said, “Man, this is so – for lack of a better word – iconic.” And me being Puerto Rican, a lot of Spanish kids growing up wore it, so we had a real connection to the Classic Leather. At first my first answer was, “What am I going to do with this? What am I going to do?” I wanted to make sure I did something right, something worth it. It has to be worth it.
Sometimes it’s hard to make an impact when you have so many people and so many reputable retailers and designers working a celebration and you’re one of many. So that kind of makes me know that I need to step it up.
Yeah, it’s like what are you going to do to that’s going to set you apart from what anybody else can try and do with it.
Absolutely. Everybody is unique, but at the same time, we’re all working and drawing from the same pool of inspiration. There’s only so many colors and leathers, so you really have to dig deep to do something that’s going to stand out from the rest of the pack. So my inspiration was my brand BAU, which stands for Business As Usual. And that’s actually the first time I used it on something, other than me just shouting it out. It was the first product that had the name of my new venture. You gotta think the shoe came out a few months ago, and promotion a year and a half before that, so it was right in the beginning stages for me building a new name. That was the first opportunity that I felt it was appropriate to put the name on the shoe, to start Business As Usual.
When you started this a year and a half ago, did know at the time it would line up pretty well with you launching BAU? Did you have any idea when the shoe would actually be dropping?
I would like to say that it was all strategic, but it’d be a lie.
It was just serendipity?
Yeah, I think it just landed like that. And I think that that shoe was one of the driving forces that was pushing me to say this is my brand. It just turned into a brand, and not many people have that opportunity to do something like this.
In the process of building it, was there any kind of struggle getting what you were seeing in the samples to come through?
Well, the inspiration came from the golden eras, mid-90s, early-90s, and that’s kind of like the cliché cool thing to say. You know, it’s like when someone asks you your favorite sneaker, and you say Jordan IIIs. For me, they actually are, but for real reasons. So the inspiration behind the color combination and the material story was the hype that was happening in the mid-90s. It wasn’t like I was copying what was happening then, I was always really impressed with the stone and navy blue combination—like the rough suede and leather combination. I really drew inspiration from the mid-90s hype, and to me, those colors are very wearable.
Was the goal to keep it just as classic as the shoe originally was supposed to be? It fits the motto, Business As Usual, really well.
And the motto of the brand is always there. I didn’t have a proper education or a design background to get to where I’m at now. I buckled down and made it happen, and I think that anybody with a passion for something can make it happen. That’s the philosophy behind the brand, and that was kind of the philosophy behind the shoe.