He’s the sneaker world’s first official documentarian.
Since publishing the industry’s tome in 2003, Where’d You Get Those? New York City’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987, Bobbito Garcia has gone on to host the first TV show about sneakers on ESPN, collab with Nike, direct a film, and even have his book used as the text for the first college course on sneakers – Sneakerology 101.
To mark the 10 year anniversary, a special edition of Where’d you Get Those? hit book shops and online today, with an updated post ’87 chapter, cover, and intro.
The Reed Space will also be hosting a book signing next week and Bobbito will start a worldwide book tour in 2014. Here, “Father Bob” talks about recreating the magic of Where’d You Get Those? and what the book can teach young heads.
It’s the 10 year anniversary of Where’d You Get Those?, how’d it feel to go back to revisit your work?
To be honest, I was reluctant to do a 10th anniversary edition at first. My publisher Dana Albarella, approached me with the idea. I thought the book was flawless already, so why redo it? She was like, ‘A lot’s happened in 10 years. You did a collaborations with Nike, you had an ESPN show, you travelled to Africa doing sneaker drives.’ All of a sudden, it dawned on me that a lot has changed. So I wrote an afterword and we recruited Elliot Peter Curtis, co-creator of Sneakerology 101, to write the intro.
What was your original inspiration for writing this book 10 years ago?
I remember being pissed off because a lot of media was discussing sneaker culture as this new phenomenon and I had grown up with it as part of my generation. I wanted to open people’s eyes to the fact that it wasn’t new at all. In fact, it was a continuum that emerged in the 50s and developed became solidified in the 70s. Particularly in New York among afro American and Afro Caribbean and from there it grew to be multiethnic and multi-generational. I really wanted to document that first group. Not just my story, there’s 25 interviewees and they all contributed in there own way and now people like yourself have jobs.
Speaking on that, you wrote the first published article about sneaker culture back in ’91. How have you seen coverage on the culture grow since then?
I think it’s fantastic in terms of blogs, websites and magazines. Now there’s documentaries like “Just For Kicks” and shows like “Quickstrike” or “Is It The Shoes?” on ESPN 2005-2006. I had the first article ever covering sneakers and the first television series based on sneakers as well. I’ve been at the forefront of the documentation that’s been going on for decades now and I’m happy to see all the attention and information that’s available now. It allows people to have fun with it and to really explore their options.
How is sneaker culture different now, compared to the early generation?
In my day, we only knew what was in front of us, which were the stores that we travelled to with an MTA token. We never had a sense of what the next release was or what the next color was going to come out or release dates or anything. We had to constantly travel to sneaker stores and look at the walls. It was a very innocent time and I appreciate it, but I think it’s a great time now too.
For a younger sneaker enthusiast, what value would they get from reading this book?
They’ll get a greater appreciation for sneaker culture and the beginnings. There are unique similarities to back then and they’ll see how all of this came to be. They’ll understand where the mentality came from to want a pair of one-of-ones or a sneaker that no one in their town hand. They’ll understand where that comes from because all of that mentality developed here in New York. It’s really intriguing from a sociological and anthropological perspective. People have enjoyed my book who don’t give two smacks about sneakers. They just love Americana and documentation of it.