Welcome to the Fresh Pair post-show huddle! After episodes of Fresh Pair, we’ll link up with Katty Customs to talk about the latest episode and dig deep behind the scenes to uncover hidden gems from the design process that didn’t make the main show.
On the latest episode, Katty and Just Blaze were joined by Harlem rapper and one half of The Diplomats, Jim Jones, who was gifted a custom one-of-one mid-rise Air Force 1 that touched on several aspects of Jones’ career and general vibe and paid tribute to his El Capo and Vampire Life albums.. If Jones’ “Vamp Life” brand were a sneaker, it’d be this custom AF-1, without question.
We linked up with Katty to talk the concept of her design for Jones and how she and Just Blaze collaborated to make this sneaker something truly special. Let’s dive in.
Take us behind the custom sneaker for Jim Jones. What was the concept here?
Jim Jones’ sneaker was really fun to work with. We did a few things, we wanted to incorporate the E.K.G. symbol because his sister has a health situation and he once saved his photographer after they passed out. Luckily he was there to perform CPR. So we thought there was something great there == with him being the heart of the collective, the Diplomats, and having a hero’s heart. In addition to the CPR, he basically was raised to help his sister with her condition growing up. We put his logos on there, the Vamp Life. We incorporated roses to represent the El Capo album.
Jim and the Diplomats operated a lot like a military organization — their structure. So we used a Nike Air Force 1 boot to conjure that. He’s like a rockstar — so we put the chains on there, we wrapped it. We put the Velcro strap. Those rockstar chains shine and show a little bling. We added reflective material and used his “Vamp Life” tag and his El Capo logo, which is the skull logo, we put that on the shoes.
We wanted to give him his roses. So on the Nike Swoosh, we drew roses on there to give him his flowers. We also made his shoes out of chalk, the front part, the mud guard. We also incorporated that, because he’s done a great job dropping game to the young generation.
In relation to the E.K.G. stuff and referencing his sister’s health condition, was it hard to get that personal or was that kind of an inspiring aspect of the design for you?
I think that was a very inspiring and it was definitely hard to make too, because we had to add to the Air logo and make it look just as good as the Air logo that’s on the side of the shoe on the mid sole. So, that was crazy.
Why the Air Force 1? Was that the kind of militant vibe the shoe has?
Yeah, we definitely felt like it was the perfect shoe for the military intent for sure.
What was your relationship to Jim Jones’ music before making this sneaker?
I was definitely listening to Jim Jone’s music. I was a fan, but we have to learn more about the artist before even putting the shoe together, I definitely learned a lot about him before creating his shoes. He’s tough, but he has a good heart and that’s really good to know about him, those are things that I just didn’t know.
I just love to see real things, you know what I’m saying? Real things from real people, so it was pretty cool. I was already a fan before, but learning about him and making him a one-of-one shoe made me even a bigger fan.
In your opinion, what was Just’s best contribution to this one? What did he lay out that really inspired you and pushed you to make a dope design?
Just was so involved in this design. He talked about the reflective material on the black colorway. He suggested that we make the shoe black, we wanted make the shoes really dope, but we didn’t want to use a lot of color. So we wanted to do something really cool and wondered, how can we make these shoes dope without using so many colors? He thought it would be cool to do the reflective material for Vamp Life print. And the roses, giving him the flowers and the E.K.G. element, to make it glow, that was really cool.
And how’d you feel about Jim Jones’ reaction?
Oh, he loved it. I felt good about his reaction. He’s a cool guy, so he wasn’t like, “Ooh,” but you could tell that he really liked his shoes. He said, “We did our thing,” so I’m happy.
What’s a good price for this pair?
I’ll say about 4,500.
So 1k more than TI? Are we going to keep going up until the season finale?
Yeah, we’re going to go up. We’re going to keep going up! The more we do on the shoes, the more that is going to go up, for sure.
What would be on the Jim Jones 2 and what sneaker are you using?
Oh, I say we should do either a low top Air Force 1 or a Nike Air Max. I know he likes Air Max 1’s. So if we could do the second pair, I say let’s do an Air Max 1, for sure. I know he likes Air Maxes. And we’d probably do something with more color, more towards his personal style.