Vic Mensa doesn’t care what you think about him; he’s going to do things his own way. When it came to getting his own footwear collaboration, it made sense that he didn’t work with a traditional sneaker brand. Instead he chose Wolverine, the shoemaker from Michigan, to design 1000 Mile sneakers and boots for him that allow him to do things his own way.
He’s got three pairs of boots/sneakers coming out tomorrow, May 16, that retail for $190, $200, and $210, and he was able to pick leathers from the Horween factory in his native Chicago to make his collection a little more authentic to him.
We also got the chance to talk to him about his upcoming album, his thoughts on “Old Town Road,” vintage clothing, and how he’s able to inspire the youth.
How does it feel to have your own like sneaker/boot come out soon?
It feels dope man. I've been working on designing things for a long time, and me and my partner Conrad have a line together called 93Punx, so we tried to kind of integrate some of the things that we do. Which is another custom line of work. Wolverine brought us to the Hoween factory in Chicago, and I picked through a bunch of different leathers and saw what came together.
How does it feel to have like a big company put faith in you to put out a product like that?
It’s interesting because like, I'm a very do-it-yourself type of person.I think that it's a process to bring like the type of like anti-establishment mentality that I have into the corporate world. Like anything else, one of us figure it out, finding a balance between the one-of-one type custom shit that I do for my own line and bringing that to a bigger company.
How nice is it though to work with a company that can give you something you like rather than just signing with a regular sneaker brand and having to pretend that you like a pair of all-white shoes?
It’s cool to be able to make something different from what's going on. What we really have been focused on is boots. I wear a lot of boots. Combat. I kind of brought that combat aesthetic into like the Wolverine shit and also did a sneaker.
Now that you finally got to do the product, how hard was it for you to come up with what you wanted? How many revisions did you go through?
We've been through some samples for the sneaker. It was maybe less of a revision process, because it already exists and now it’s just putting a little bit of a spin to it. But as far as the boots, Conrad and I been going through and revising those, changing things, figuring out the process. The boot is something I really had to put a lot of design, revision, and thought detail into it.
What's the feedback been like from like people around you?
Man you know, I honestly stay pretty much to myself. But I put something up on the boots the other day and people was really fucking with that.
Have you guys had any talks to do anything further?
There's a few projects to it. Right now I just been, you know, like I said, we still ain't finished the combat boot. You know I collect a lot of vintage clothes, so like I got a pair of 1940s boots that I'm trying to like kind of incorporate into what we're doing with Wolverine. We're taking reference from deep dig vintage pieces. I'm really still focused on that. I still got the other designs within this framework that we've already created. I'm still wanting to see come into fruition.
It feels like it’s a big thing nowadays searching for vintage clothes and selling them. How do you feel seeing that that's like something getting bigger?
Ah man, it is what it is, you know what I mean? Like, I do my thing. I been doing the same thing that I do now around for 10 years. I was in high school buying like vintage Louis Vuitton sweaters and Polo denim jackets, and we were cutting them up and fucking with them. I been doing all this shit for a long time, so it's like part of my lifestyle. As it comes into fashion, goes out of fashion, it's like that's just the cycle of culture these days. It's things from the past presenting themselves once again. That's what it is. The prices on shit get jacked. Rock n' Roll T-shirts are like a thousand dollars a shirt now. I been doing it for long time, it's like I go to the plug, I go to the source. I’ll get a shirt you might go pay $500, and I'm going to pay $40 bucks, ‘cause I know a good person that really does this shit.
How hard was it to get plugged up with like the right people on the vintage?
Not a tough process at all. I just spend a lot of time [doing that]. That's just a real hobby of mine. I like to dig through old shit, and so I fit in there. I like going to the different flea markets. I just gravitate towards good people at the end of the day. I just try to vibe with people that I connect with on a human level and often times that ends up yielding the best creative output.
You go to Rose Bowl Flea a lot?
We've been to Rose Bowl a lot. I went there last month having a good time. I was fucked up at Rose Bowl last month, I was high as fuck.
What's the scene like there? You see like a lot of fashion people going there. You see Don C and people like that from Chicago. Do you run into them?
I definitely do run into a lot of people over there. It's more scene-y now than it was like two-three years ago. But this shit been going on forever. I'm sure it was scene-y two-three years ago than it was 10 years ago.
As far as like new music, what do you have coming out?
I got this album, it's called 93Punx, and it's a band that I started. It was a departure for me from a lot of sounds I fucked with before. It's a rock album with a lot of elements from a lot of different things from rap to punk. It's not a hip hop album. And so the 93 Punks album is pretty much that. I've been having hella fun with that. It's very political in a lot of ways. Subversive. I've been working with Travis Barker on it a lot. I can't wait to start performing that shit. It's some real energy, some angst. It's a great release for me. I've been working on that, and it's coming out within the next few months.
Being that you're in-between genres, they've had controversy with the “Old Town Road” song. Saying it's not country or it's not hip-hop. How do you feel about people trying to classify music and saying it can't be this or it can't be that?
I feel that that's the territory of corporate creativity. That's how it goes down. I thought it was some bullshit that they tried to pull the homie off of the country charts. The whole thing is funny also though, you know what I mean? It's definitely all hilarious. I just laugh at it.
Have you dealt with people trying to tell you that you have to be this or you have to be that?
Yeah, for sure. But you know I feel like I never really fit into a lot of traditional molds. Just like growing up outside of Chicago. Being a skateboard kid and being into like Nirvana instead of 50 Cent. From a young age people tried to put me in a box. I should dress this way, I should be into these things. That didn't dictate my interests. They still don't. I'm a grown-ass man, I'm gonna make whatever kind of music I want, I'm gonna wear whatever the fuck clothes I wanna wear. If I wanna wear nail polish, I'm gonna wear nail polish. I don't give a shit about petty shit like that. I just express myself.
Does it feel good that the younger kids can be more accepted nowadays because of things you went through?Definitely. We got that responsibility to open doors for people to be themselves. The same way Kanye opened doors for us to be ourselves. To be able to pass that, take that torch, and be authentic and be honest and be unafraid and to inspire the young generation to do the same in their own path. That's a blessing.