It’s a dismal Thursday night, and yet again we are standing in the queue for Dalston club Alibi, downing street beers on the sly. A dodgy man walking past casts a cursory glance at Rob, double takes, stops, and pulls him over to chat earnestly in hushed tones. He looks at me, ‘Look after this boy’. Rob isn’t my boyfriend. The man limps off. Shortly a different man comes over and shakes Rob’s hand. Confusion turns to intrigue. Another. Must be something in the K cider. A further stranger smiles at Rob, and finally I am forced to ask. ‘Why are all these men talking to you?’ ‘Probably’, he grins, ‘because of my jacket’.
‘How you wear fashion is all about how you present yourself’, Rob tells me, ‘it’s a self constructed image of how you want to present yourself to the world and how you want to be seen by the world’. Rob’s History of Art student education combined with his sneakers blog and job at 1948, are reflected in his approach to the aesthetic, his remarkable attention to detail, his championing of style over trend.
An international childhood spent in Washington D.C., Budapest, London and Turin has resulted in colliding stylistic influences. His American blood, Rob states, has influenced him as a ‘massive sneaker head and hip-hop lover’, yet living in central London has actively subverted his style from the ‘faithfully American mould’. ‘London caters for a wonderfully eclectic and niche mash-up style, where the orthodoxy of US street wear can be deconstructed and played around with to reflect one’s own personal tastes but more importantly generate a new sort of meaning. This is mainly due to the de-contextualizing of the brands, sport teams, music artists and so on referenced by the clothes and shoes, and reinterpreted in an entirely new social and cultural context.’
With wardrobe contents which range from Topman to Levi’s, from Cos to Dover Street Market, for Rob, the best purchases are made online, from Ebay, Karmaloop, New Era, Flight Club, Supreme, Crooks & Castles or Bathing Ape. Internet shopping however, much like rifling through Battersea car boot sale with a hangover, requires some serious patience. ‘You do have to wade through a whole lot of crap before finding something you like, or you have to make sure to have a specific item in your head. Otherwise it simply becomes a futile exercise’. It is in his footwear evidence of this patience becomes overtly clear. A collection of over 85 pairs of sneakers, most limited edition, many box fresh, emphasises the sometimes performative nature of fashion. Like the sides of his head which are often shaved to display the word NIKE, or it’s ubiquitous trademark tick, Rob’s sneaker collection demonstrates a strong one brand affiliation: ‘There’s almost a Nike culture in sneaker collecting’, he notes with a smile.
This isn’t elitism, this is knowledge. This is a lucky chance Ebay find, a life size Michael Jordan poster bought on the cheap, that one spectacular pair of brand new kicks, all for the sense of pure elation.