Interview: Yeezy Brand Designer Cesar Idrobo on Inspiration and Spontaneity

Designer Cesar Idrobo is in town for eBay's Museum Of Authentics, and he's brought something along that we can guarantee you've never seen before.

Sneaker designer Cesar Idrobo with the prototype sneaker he created for eBay Australia

sneaker designer Cesar Idrobo with the prototype sneaker he created for eBay Australia

Sneaker designer Cesar Idrobo with the prototype sneaker he created for eBay Australia

The world of sneakers has come a long way from an unusual hobby for a few to a flex for many, and along the way has, somehow, created its own 24-hour news cycle. Right off the back of the ongoing Geiger vs Nike drama, we’ve got MSCHF vs Vans. And while the IP beef is simmering, we’ve got the lingering question of where is Benjamin Kickz getting all that product, anyway?

As we tend to do in one of the world’s southernmost cities, we’re gonna steal a little of that shine away this weekend in Melbourne. Yeezy Brand’s head pattern and sample maker Cesar Idrobo has touched down, and he’s brought a little something special in his carry-on luggage. Something that might interrupt that news cycle for a minute or two.

Idrobo is in town for eBay’s Museum Of Authentics; a museum installation in Melbourne’s northern suburbs comprising a world of grails including College Dropout Bapestas and Pharrell x Chanel NMDs right through to the Back To The Future 2008 Hyperdunks, signed by Kobe, and game-worn Air Jordan 1s from 1985, signed by Michael Jordan.

Among all the hard-to-finds and damn-near-impossible-to-finds will lie one irrefutably original piece that will be seen only at the museum installation; a one-of-one prototype sneaker created by Cesar Idrobo himself. This might be the one sneaker in the world that doesn’t need the valuable co-sign of that eBay authenticity guarantee.

Idrobo’s journey started in his hometown of Colombia before he shifted to the US to study. After graduating, he had a stint providing his graphic design skills to Nike socks before shifting to Yeezy Brand, where he brings preliminary designs to life, providing his input into fabrics and materials and building early Yeezy samples by hand.

With the Museum Of Authentics set to open this weekend, Complex AU spoke to Cesar about his journey in footwear and the concept behind his one-of-a-kind prototype.

So you went from designing socks at Nike to working at Yeezy Brand, tell me about that.

I never thought in my life that I would be where I am in my career right now. I never thought it was something that I would pursue, either. It was more like the alignment of a series of events and people in my life.

A lot of times people are told ‘do what you love’. In some sense, yeah, that makes sense because you want to be happy doing what you’re doing. However, on the other side of the spectrum it’s terrible advice because I think it takes you away from actually focusing on what’s needed in the industry.

In the industry there’s a lot of need for people that know how to make shoes. So, for me, this was my focus from the very beginning in my academic preparation, I just wanted to be the person that knows how to make shoes. That was my focal point in my professional career. 

It unfolded into this moment in time in the industry where there is a lack of people with that skill. I can carry my vision from beginning to end myself, which gave me this competitive edge in the industry.

You’ve made your own luck. You have made a prototype for eBay, Australia, which is wild, and I love it. Can you tell me more about it?

With this project, I wanted to portray the expression of human creativity and the ingenuity that it takes for a person to turn your idea into reality. It’s an extra-curricular project that I did in my evenings and plenty of weekends, because I think it’s important for me to highlight my philosophy in terms of how I approach the creation of new ideas.

What I wanted to accomplish in this project is highlighting techniques in shoemaking and how those techniques could be applied in the making process; as you’re putting it together, you mould things and you make it work to manage the vision that you have. So it’s a little bit of designing the shoe as you make it, and making the shoe as you design it. It’s highlighting the intuition that we have as creatives, and carving out that vision as close as possible to reality.

So, that’s the philosophy of the shoe, are there any visual references or inspiration you can point to?

No, I don’t think there is something strong that I can pinpoint in terms of inspiration. It’s more like, letting the materials speak for themselves, letting the colours speak for themselves. It’s a very spontaneous approach. Because when you’re spontaneous, every time you attempt to create something, you create something different.So that’s why you have to be open to this very organic approach to creativity.

Sneaker designer Cesar Idrobo with the prototype sneaker he created for eBay Australia