Kevin Wee is one of the prominent up-and-coming figures in the sneakers/street fashion space. We had a chance to catch up with him and talk to him about the current state of sneakers.
Introduce yourself: What is your name? Where are you from? And what is your background?
My name is Kevin and I'm from California! My background is, oddly enough, in the biological sciences.
When did you first start paying attention to limited release sneakers/sneaker collaborations?
I think I started to pay attention to sneakers and the 'streetwear culture' at large when I was in elementary school and Junior High. Really a pivotal moment was when Kanye released Graduation. I was exposed to a variety of new areas of culture outside of really California culture, such as runway clothing with Louis Vuitton to Japanese Modern Art with Murakami.
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being fantastic, 1 being awful) how would you rate 2020 for sneaker drops?
Personally, I would give this year a solid 5 to a light 6. I feel like there haven't been any great leaps forward in terms of new sub-brands or as many explorative endeavors as previous years. 2017 gave us Virgil 's Partnership with Nike. 2018 Gave us the Fear of God Partnership. 2019 gave us a full exploration of MMW's partnership. I feel like 2020 has yet to have that big "wow" factor. I do like a decent amount of the drops separately, such as the Kasina Dunk Low's or New Balances collaborative efforts. I genuinely feel like New Balance and Reebok has curated some amazing collaborations and partners. I personally believe that both New Balance and Reebok in general has "upped" their game in terms of understanding culture and that's because they have people who understand product at the heads of their collaborations (ie: Joe Grondin and Leo Gamboa).
- What are your thoughts on bootleg Nike and Jordan sneakers?
I don't mind the bootlegging sneakers. I do believe that there has to be some sort of justification or creative input to justify the bootleg. I think Fugazi has really been one of the best examples of this and I want to just praise Trevor for all the cool shit he's doing.
- What brands have had the biggest impact on sneaker culture in 2020?
I think New Balance has really had the most impact in 2020 so far. New Balance was really low-key outside of the 900 models until this year. Their ability to re-contextualize brands and bring them into the modern era while also allowing the products to be easily digested is very very admirable. Although people may still view New Balance as the "Dad Shoe" brand, I think they have definitely grown leaps and bounds by almost being "anti-fashion" and sorta "anti-hype", which ironically has brought them more attention and "hype".
- In your opinion, what were the top 3 sneakers to drop during 2020?
Top 3 Sneakers is quite hard as there were so many releases this year. If I had to say in no particular order, it would be these three...
1) Nike Dunk Low Kasina; I love the idea of more Korean representation in street culture. I strongly believe that with PeaceMinusOne's release of the AF1 and the amount of energy behind that release, it showed Nike that Korea truly is a creative powerhouse that can reach beyond their mother country. The Kasina Dunk Low's have a beautiful quality suede with awesome leather to give it a premium touch. I also love the branding on both the kasina exclusive and asia exclusive pairs.
2) JJJJound New Balance 992 "Green"; I have talked about this shoe a million times and I really don't want to bore anyone. I just love the simplicity of the shoe and the ability of Justin Saunders to create something super dope by just tweaking a little bit has never stopped to astonish me.
3) The Off-White Jordan 4 Cream; I know a lot of people like to hate on Virgil for X, Y, and Z, but I think he really deserves the credit for a lot of amazing projects under his belt. His 3rd project with Jordan Brand is no exception as I absolutely love the air jordan 4 that he had made. It has been a while since an Air Jordan 4 was really made with just care and beautiful materials. I really appreciate the attention to detail, such as the deconstructed netting and the ripstop material.
- Vintage and aged sneakers are currently very popular. What do you think will be the next trend for sneakers moving forward?
I think that's a bit hard to dissect. I really think it has to do with people valuing Authenticity and Genuinity rather than perfection (or atleast outward manufactured perfection). I'm not quite sure how it will continue on towards the future because I think the fact that people are aging sneakers, which was supposed to show authenticity, defeats the purpose. Manufacturing something that is obtained through wear is a bit confusing. I personally don't mind it when people rapidly age their sneakers, but I just find it almost ironic that it's happening. I think sneaker companies, such as Nike and Adidas, have already caught on and are aging sneakers to sorta provide the same effect as some customizers have done.
- If you had to wear one sneaker for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I know that it's gonna be sorta confusing, but I am a big fan of the Adidas Campus. I love how classic the silhouette is and how it just hits so nicely with whatever pants you wear. My personal favorite is the recently released Human Made Campus 80 or the Beams Campus that was released recently. A close second place would be an Adidas Stan Smith as I also think that classic colorway is just so good.