This is our take on the Kicks-n-Coffee event in Stuttgart. Enjoy:
I remember my first pair of sneakers. A pair of black and white vans bought from Toi market from the „rastas“. I can’t remember who gave me that tip, but his tip was „find the rastas. They are deep inside, but they’ve got the freshest vans.“ And so began the relationship that is still going steady today, me and vans, the most represented brand in my sneaker closet. I had a neighbour who started collecting Jordan’s at a young age, a phenomenon I never understood. Why collect something quite obviously meant to be worn? And to make the broth even saltier, the chap was a baller. But when he played, he would roll up in the most basic of Nikes. Up to this day I have never understood the sneakerhead.
They are a rare breed. Sneakerheads have a knowledge so deep and with even a hint of prompting are ready to fly off on the wildest tangents „These are the… (insert factual statements stated at a frenzied pace to convey incredulity)“ or „Yo, I swear bruh, Jordan had these on for Game 6″, “ ‚Bron had these forged in secret in Miami while Wade and Bosh sung Kumbaya and danced around him.“. But above all, these are people so passionate, you sometimes forget that you are talking about a few pieces of leather and fabric stitched together. Sometimes you can almost see tears in their eyes when they are talking about a pair and what it means to them.
I like Kicks.
I like coffee.
Now imagine the possimpible: “Kicks & Coffee”!
Two gentlemen, Yew Kyeremeh, the store manager at Arrow and Beast skate shop and Danjiel „Bala“ Balasevic, the store manager at Suppa (Stuttgart’s premier sneaker shop and boutique) are the brains behind “Kicks-n-Coffee”. On the 25th of June the 10th iteration of the event was held in an old factory hall, Im Wizemann, on roughly 1000 square metres to an estimated crowd of 1500. „When we started our first event, we had what, maybe 150 people there, most of whom were friends and family“ says Yew, „so it means a lot to us to see our event grow tenfold over such a short period of time.“
The old factory hall was the perfect venue for the event. The wide open spaces and the feeling of old meets new, the past with its industrial lifestyle meets new school hip hop, fashion and lingo.
The event is dominated by private collectors and sellers, a fact the two gents are also keen to highlight, „Sometimes such events are dominated by brands and companies, but for us it is important that the personal contact is present.“ With roughly 34 exhibitors , 30 of these being individuals and only 4 being companies, coupled with the fact that there was no entry fee (the previous 9 were also free entry) the „commercial“ feeling is noticeably absent. One gets the sense that most exhibitors know each other personally and just love being around kicks and talking shop. When I prompted Yaw on what makes this event different, he again brings up the „family“ aspect, „At other sneaker events, you walk in and it’s a huge hall. That’s the first thing that meets the eye, and after you’re done, there’s not much chit chat, there’s no exchange. What we wanted to do was make an event where you can show up with the whole family, with the kids and have a fun time. That’s why we have a drawing and colouring corner. Why charge money for something that we love and are sure others love as well? If we can inspire even one kid to become a sneaker designer, if we can make sure that that love is passed on to the next generation, that’s enough for us.“
As well as the aforementioned colouring and drawing corner that drew huge interest from young and old alike, there was a portable basketball rim that got its fair share of visitors.
Stuttgart has been host to 5 „Kicks-n-Coffee“s, Vienna has had 3 (with a fourth coming up this September) and Strasbourg has played the role twice. „We usually aim for one Winter and one Summer event, but the exact dates are dependant on sneaker releases“ (Yaw).
Below is an excerpt of the important questions from our interview:
Why Stuttgart? Yaw has lived in Stuttgart most of his life after moving from Ghana over 20 years ago. He also mentions the fact that the Key Marketing Cities (official market lingo btw) in Germany are Berlin and Munich and his city isn’t shown any love
How did it start? Bala collects kicks and after organising a few sneaker themed events at night, they wanted to create something that rep’d South Germany (one of, if not the first „sneakercons“ in South Germany)
Stuttgart Kicks scene? „Growing massively. Stuttgart has got money, but no one wants to spend it“ #schwabmentalität
Why the name „Kicks-n-Coffee“? The event gets its name from the organisers’s goal, to invite the sneaker family to first show wassup and then sit down and talk, over a coffee.
So what’s next for Kicks-n-Cofffee? „Well we love milestones and this is a special one, number 10. We have Vienna coming up but after that we are unsure. We will sit down, have a good talk, and set some new challenges.“
Yaw’s final comments: „We are happy and proud of what two guys have organised as well as the growth we have seen over the past 5 years. For us sneakers represent so much more than just a pair of shoes.“