A shoe-mad DJ who has allegedly forked out more than £250,000 on his collection of trainers sat down with us to talk, life and sneaker culture. The self-styled 'sneaker connoisseur' Kish Kash, from London, owns more than 2,000 pairs of sporty footwear - and his collection is so big, they don't even fit into his home. The brand consultant hasn't even worn most of his collection - which cost on average between £90 and £130 a pair.
The Soho Radio DJ, originally from Aylesbury, sleeps surrounded by trainers in their shoeboxes which would tower as high as 16 double-decker buses if his entire collection stacked up. We have suggested ways to stack them with the added essence of decor, but how can you when you own so many pairs? And each day a new pair of shoe arrives at your doorstep.
"For me, kicks have always been an extension or rather a part of me like it's just about having an appreciation of aesthetics."
What/Who was it that first triggered your passion for sneakers?
My passion for sneakers basically comes from my love of football and my love of hip-hop. Obviously, you can have a kick-about in the street, and you wear trainers, right? With hip-hop, the whole look is focused around that too, especially when you're breaking, or going to Jams. If you were a graffiti artist, you're running the line, you've gotta have that footwear! It just works, it's utilitarian. But also, when you look at the history of hip-hop, it started off in the Bronx, the street sport of New York is Basketball - The street sport here in the UK is football, so that's why we wear sneakers, and they wear sneakers as well, it's all part of the same thing.
Could you tell us about your first ever pair of sneakers, and the story behind them?
I can't remember what my first pair was - Actually maybe my first pair of sneakers was a pair of Nike's that I got when I was on holiday when I went to Canada to Winnipeg to visit my family there. My Uncle at the time was working a store called Eatons, and I'd never seen a pair of Nike's before, and I was like "Yo what are these?" (this is way back in the day!), but I came back with them. They were similar to Nike Oceania's, but they were slightly different. I remember them being tan brown and they had a gum herringbone sole. That's what I remember about them. My Mum never throws anything away, so I'm wondering, once we clear out the attic if we come across them... I'd be like "Wow." That's my first pair of shoes, that would be something! I really don't know what happened to them, one of those mysteries, who knows maybe we'll solve it one day! All the kids at school used to go "Yo, what are those, what are those?!" So it was kinda cool.
Talk to us about which pairs are in your current rotation...
Ooh, the shoes I'm currently rocking - there are various things. Some New Balance 992's absolutely love New Balance. Nike Spiridon's, I love the Spiridon Zoom Cage 2, it's a shoe I've got the OG of, I've had it for years and they retro'd it, which is quite mad, I didn't think they'd retro a shoe like that ever, but yeah those are in the mix. I always wear Clarks Wallabies, so they always come into play. Still Air Force 1's! On Running as well, absolutely love what On Running are doing, so they're always on my feet, probably the most comfortable things I've ever worn actually! Amazing shoe. And just whatever's in my hallway really! They're my go-to's. Also because it's summer, Puma Suedes. That's classic, there's no hype behind them, and for me, it's a perennially classic look. Maybe some Reebok's as well. Club C 85's. That's a wicked shoe, and you've gotta give it to Reebok, whenever they bring out a shoe from their archives, they make it exactly how it was with the best materials, and the price point is perfect as well.
If you could collaborate with any sneaker designer in the world right now, who would it be, and what is it about them that you admire?
There are a few dope sneaker designers in the world, but the guy that I would want to collaborate with the most would be Steven Smith. An absolute legend. I had the pleasure of interviewing him alongside my good friend Jase on the Soleful Sneaker Stories Podcast we do (check that out, nice little plug!) Steven Smith was just so gracious. The thing is he started off back at New Balance ago in the '80s, and he's gone from every company as a hit machine. He went from - if I recall correctly - New Balance to Adidas, from Adidas to Reebok, then from Reebok to Fila, then from Fila he went to Nike, from Nike he went to Keen, then he had a phone call from a particular guy named Kanye West who rang him up personally and goes "I want you to design my shoes because you made all the shoes that I wore as a kid" So that's what he does now, he's the head designer of Yeezy footwear. His career spans all the way from the '80s to now, and he is still making hits, and for me (arguably controversial) but this probably makes him the most fabulous shoe designer ever, and that includes Tinker Hatfield, who's designed some fabulous shoes no question, but Steven Smith is still continuing to make hits. You look at his designs and think wow some of them are crazy, he's always been that maverick dude that really pushes the envelope of what is acceptable, with utilizing the latest technology and production techniques as well, so I'd have to say it would be an absolute pleasure and privilege to one-day design something with Steven Smith.
If you were to create your own pair of kicks, what name would you give them, and why?
Y'know what I haven't got a clue, that's a callous question! But the thing is, it's probably something I'd want to hold back, because if it does happen it would have to be a surprise, so I really can't answer that one, but it's a bloody good question!
We know from your Instagram that you have a vast collection to choose from, but could you tell us your most loved silhouette to date?
My most loved silhouette of all time? Jordan 4. The Nike Air Jordan 4 for me is my favourite, and if I could get different flavours of them, I would certainly do that. Gutted I didn't get the Off-White's that just dropped. For me, it's mad because I was the first guy in the UK to have a pair of Jordan 4's when they dropped back in the day in 89. I went on holiday to the States, and I went to all the shopping malls as you did before then, to go to all the sneaker stores. I ended up seeing the shoes, I was like "Oh my God it's the latest Jordan's they're here" Boom. Copped them. I was back in the UK literally a week later, I was walking around my hometown and going to London, and everyone was going "What the hell are those?" so I was the first guy to have them, I didn't see anyone else with them, and it was just about timing really. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time with that one. I met one of my best mates through that shoe, and we're still best mates to this day. That shoe is an incredible design, Tinker Hatfield is responsible for that one, it's influenced so many other shoe designs, and also because of the memories, I have associated with that shoe.
SHOUT OUT SUNDAY| 'Sneaker Connoisseur' Kish Kash
SHOUT OUT SUNDAY| 'Sneaker Connoisseur' Kish Kash
Talk to us about your thoughts on sneaker brands becoming more sustainable...
It's brilliant that sneaker brands and apparel brands, in general, are becoming more sustainable, because we're affecting and polluting the environment at a ridiculous & alarming rate. We have a responsibility. The thing is if we can produce and manufacture items in a far more sustainable manner, then we should do. Why the hell would we want to completely destroy what's around us?! We should be trying to protect what is around us. Apparently, we're the most' intelligent life form' on this planet, so why don't we try to apply that. Stop being so bloody selfish, and really try to be one with nature, as opposed to being detrimental to nature. Any brand that is trying to move things into a sustainable practice, using certain fabrics, construction techniques, and even looking at how they transport the goods because shipping is a significant pollutant, and has the most significant carbon footprint of them all, so we've really gotta look at that. We've gotta make sure the supply chain is more localized if possible, and we should be looking to recycle stuff more. We've got lots of stuff, we can use what we already have, and utilize it in a new way or new form, so I think that's important as well. Any brand that has any sort of morality needs to look at that and action that.
You're a Co-host for the Soleful Podcast, We'd love to hear more about this, what does the podcast entail?
Haha, I gave you a plug for the podcast earlier. So basically the Soleful Podcast - it's actually Soleful Sneaker Stories - the Instagram is @soleful_podcast because you need something more immediate on socials for everyone. Basically my homie Jason Coles, he's written 2 books on sneakers, he's written the Golden Kicks book, which is a brilliant book I suggest everyone reads it, and then he's also co-written 'Some People Think I'm a Shoe' with Stan Smith. Absolute legend, I think everybody knows the name Stan Smith, associated with the most iconic Adidas shoe of all time. He was a double grand slam winner, I've had the pleasure of meeting him, he's a phenomenal guy, so gregarious, so welcoming, and so unassuming, especially with his achievements and what he's done throughout the years. A very modest fellow. That, to me, suggests true greatness. So Jase hit me up, said "I've been approached to do this podcast, I would love you to be on it with me" I was like "Are you sure? Wow!" So that's how that happened. Generally, we were meant to focus on a model of a shoe, and explore the story behind the shoe with the designer or athlete in question if possible, so we started off with Stan Smith. But we've gone on different tangents as well, touching upon crucial people within the industry which has been fantastic. For anyone who wants to know the full scoop, the only way to do that is to check it out! So go on all the podcast platforms, and it's there, just searches for Soleful Sneaker Stories and it'll come up. I hope it's educational and informative, and entertaining! Because of course, that's the intention of it.
Some of the people we've interviewed are (as I said) Stan Smith, Erin Narloch from Reebok, fantastic lady, we had Rod Dixon the marathon winner from '84, the only person to ever win a marathon of significance with a shoe that he designed himself (which he did with Saucony) incredible story, what an inspiration. He works mentoring children in New Zealand, fantastic. Then we had Steven Smith, a brilliant guy - we had to do two parts for him. We've had Steve Van Doren, and Henry Davies, who is probably the worlds most pre-eminent Vans Authority, his collection and his knowledge on Vans is astounding (probably better than anyone at Vans!), and Steve is the son of Paul Van Doren the founder of Vans, so we had them both on an episode. We had Sam Pearce the designer from New Balance alongside Richie Roxas, probably one of the most pre-eminent authoritarians on New Balance, and so on and so forth. We've had a great bunch of people, and I think you should go and check it out! Tell people about it, so we can get a 2nd series, as the guests we've got lined up for that are ridiculous as well!
Your wardrobe goes way beyond just sneakers, as your style is super unique! Where do you get your inspiration from for such fabulous outfits?
Wow, thank you for the kind compliment, appreciate that! My inspiration, I don't know! I'm just a dude that's into football and hip-hop, at the end of the day I think those sort of things inform my look, and the brands that I associate to as well I guess. That's probably the best way to look at it. I just channel those. That's where street style comes from, it comes from street sports, from football, basketball, skating... and that's why it channels that. Along with the soundtrack of hip-hop. Although I also used to skate to heavy metal, and grunge and hardcore, a real mix of stuff. Jazz. All sorts! I guess I channel those elements into what I'm doing. Hopefully, it will continue like that. I'll 'age disgracefully'.
It seems like you have an amazing, established & colourful career - could you tell us an achievement or project that you're most proud of?
Wow! I'm really humbled. It's been a crazy few years, from releasing records to doing charity stuff. I think the proudest I can be of one significant thing (I mean I've done loads of events) I think maybe it was the 'SpAIR Max Day' we did in 2018. Basically, what we did, I just threw it out to the community, can you give me all the shoes that you don't wear in your closet, we're gonna clean them up, and with the help of Jason Markk we cleaned up hundreds of shoes. Then we gave them to Solly at the Brixton soup kitchen to distribute to those who were less fortunate. It was an antithesis to what Nike do with Air Max day, ours was SpAIR Max day. So all your Spare Airs, SpAIRS! We had so many people come through and donate, we were so appreciative of their generosity, and the time everybody gave up to make it happen, even everyone at the soup kitchen as well. Hopefully, we've helped quite a few people around Brixton and surrounding areas, they were distributed wherever Solly saw fit, so people have acquired some steezy footwear! We cleaned them all up, it was pretty dope. Somebody I wanted to mention who helped us out, came to help clean the sneakers was a guy called Casper Fox, he was a great guy, he created a community called the Real Sole Family, he welcomed everyone in, he was just a top boy, but sadly he passed away last year, but without his help, we wouldn't have had as many shoes, and he gave up his time to do that. So yeah, SpAIR Max day has to be the best thing. The whole thing was about sustainability as well, because if people have got all these shoes in their closets, and they're not wearing them etc. there are people out there who can and will be able to wear them, then we should be putting them where they can be worn. Trying to utilize our platform in the right way. We hit the sustainable angle and the people who are less well off. We're making sure that these shoes don't end up in landfills, y' know? I think it's like 157,000 tonnes of footwear ends up in landfill in the UK alone every year, it's a colossal amount, so let's get them on peoples feet and not end up buried harming the environment.
Speaking from experience, if you could give any advice right now to people in the sneaker game, what would it be?
If I could give any advice to anyone in the industry... Pay me and then I'll tell you!
Thank you to Kish for sitting down with us and follow him on Instagram.
Photos: Sachin Ghataaura