Today at 10 a.m the highly-anticipated follow up to the Nice Kicks x Ronnie Fieg Asics Gel Lyte IIIs release at the Nice Kicks shop in Texas, as well as online at DavidZ.com. The one-toned gray sneakers are done up in a buttery suede upper and are limited to 300 pairs in total. Need to know anything else? Not really, expect server crashes and a hassle if you don't trap them down quickly. For more shots, and an interview with Nice Kicks head-honcho Matt Halfhill (more on him later in the day), hit the jump...
Complex: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last Nice Kicks x Ronnie Fieg Asics were the brand's fastest selling shoe ever, what do you attribute that to?
Matt Halfhill: The first Nice Kicks drop took down David Z's servers a couple times. Ronnie checked the stats and in the time that the shoes were online for sale more than 3000 people logged onto DavidZ fighting for bandwidth to grab the 250 pairs. We calculated it afterwards and in the time that the servers the shoes sold at a rate of 1 per 4 seconds.I was nervous up to the minute that the shoes went on sale. I just hoped other people liked them and would want to wear them.
Complex: How long is the process for you two coming together to work on a shoe?
Matt Halfhill: The first one took a little bit of time. At first I was trying to find sources of inspiration that would translate well onto a shoe, but after several mock ups I just said screw it - just design something dope. I wanted to go with something that would look great with shorts or denim and would speak volumes. You only get 1 "first project" and I wanted it to make a statement.
For this project I knew exactly what I wanted to do right off the bat. The solid, bright red was an attention getter no doubt, but I wanted to make something subtle and clean. The designs of the 1.0 took place in the early part of the spring '08 and Ronnie and I worked on the 2.0's in late October last year. The idea was go in the complete opposite direction with a subtle color on the upper, remove extra materials such as the netting on the side of the shoe and go with a solid color for the full length of the midsole.
The Gel Lyte III is a very interesting shoe with tons of different pieces and panels - the color combinations are literally endless. I wanted to take the approach of doing more with less with just two colors across the shoe in simple color blocking.
Complex: What are some changes you guys went back-and-forth on? Were there any disagreements?
Matt Halfhill: The 1.0s there were a ton of samples. I was so focused on trying to get the price point as low as possible and tried a ton of different materials to make it happen. In the end it all worked out perfectly. What is funny to us now (wasn't funny at the time) was that there was a miscommunication between myself and Ronnie about which shoe we wanted to go forward with. I received my sample pair to wear, opened the box, and to my surprise it was a different one than what I thought we selected. Looking back, the one that got produced that Ronnie mocked up looked better than my final sample so it was a good meltdown of communication.
This project was pretty easy. I knew in my mind what I wanted, mocked it up, sent it over to Ronnie, and I think there was just one material change and it was a go.
Complex: People will look at the shoe and say, "oh it's gray". What did you guys do that separates it from other gray suede sneakers?
Matt Halfhill: When the 2.0 was being worked on, we did not anticipate seeing a ton of grey shoes in the market. This was in October of 2009, so the latest we saw product for as buyers for our stores was March of 2010. Grey has been a big color in 2010 which I guess is a good and bad thing. On one hand it looks like we called our colors right, on the other hand there are alot of grey shoes in the marketplace for buyers to choose from.
The Gel Lyte III has a very loyal following and the 2.0 introduces the shoe in a subtle and clean colorway that we haven't had yet in the US. Ultimately we wanted to make a GL3 that one could dress up and wear for more occasions than just strictly casual wear.
Complex: How does it feel to sell your own shoe, in your own store for the first time?
Matt Halfhill: This is definitely a new feeling, but a great one. My first job when I was 16 was working as a salesman at a shoe store in the mall. It was always my dream to have a store of my own one day. To get to drop a shoe I worked on with a great friend of mine in my hometown at a shop just two floors beneath my office is a great feeling. We have received a ton of phone calls from customers in Austin, but also across the state from Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and even El Paso.
Complex: Was there ever an opportunity to do another silhouette or did you guys want to stick with the GL3?
Matt Halfhill: That was the first phone call we had. Should we do another shoe? Is the GL3 tired? The Gel Lyte III has been done a number of times, but I wanted to opportunity to just have one last go with the shoe and take a different direction from the first to show the versatility of the silhouette.
Complex: What was the inspiration behind the design of the sneaker? Why all gray?
Matt Halfhill: Right off the bat I heard from friends and people who purchased the shoes how much the shoe grabbed attention, but something I noticed with the shoe is that I was limited to the number of places and occasions I could wear the product. I distinctly remember going to meet with the owners of the building that the store was going into and there was just no appropriate way I could pull off the shoe to that meeting.
Complex: Do you think these are better than the first collab between you two? Why?
Matt Halfhill: I think the two shoes serve different purposes and have different goals. I think the 1.0's are more of a head turner because of the bright color, but I see myself wearing the 2.0's waaaaay more. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I want a shoe that I can get alot of use out of so I am looking for something that has better and more durable materials, but also something that can be worn for casual wear or the office.
Complex: Are there plans for future collaborations?
Matt Halfhill: Something Ronnie and I talked about just a couple weeks ago was doing one or two projects together going forward. Both of us have our own projects coming in 2011, but I think it would be great to at least do one shoe a year together. Ronnie and I met in 2006 several months after I started the blog and several months before his first ASICS drop. It's been a pleasure getting to work with a friend on projects both of us are very passionate about - sneakers.
Complex: What's the advantage of working with Ronnie on an Asics collab?
Matt Halfhill: Ronnie's background of working at David Z has given him so much exposure and expertise in quality materials. David Z only started bringing in dope sneakers once he started as a buyer for the company, but something David Z stocks alot of are the best constructed shoes imaginable.
Having the knowledge of how materials wear and hold up is extremely important when designing a shoe. Certain parts of the shoe need to flex certain ways while others need strength. It's one thing to make a shoe look great in photos when it hasn't been worn, it's another to make a shoe look great after you have worn it 50 times.
Complex: If you guys cold work on a dream collab, what sneaker would it be on?
Matt Halfhill: That's really tough. I recently spent so much time trying to narrow down my favorite 100 shoes of all time and that was hard to cut some off the list even. I think my dream collab would be to work with a brand to curate a project of bringing gems that have sat in the vault for decades that if brought back would serve the purpose of both being relevant in today's market while also serving a great dose of nostalgia. Don't get me wrong, I have a great time working up colors on products, but rather than do yet another colorway of a shoe we already have in the market, I would much rather work with brands to un-shelf great goods and introduce them to the public and work with them to tell the story of why that shoe is more than just leather and rubber.