Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On this week’s episode, jeffstaple sits down with Simon “Woody” Wood, founder of Sneaker Freaker.
Since 2002, Sneaker Freaker has been a cornerstone for providing international coverage of sneaker culture, from collabs and customs, to ultra-rare limited-editions and much more. What started as a fanzine out of Woody’s desire to showcase his designs and cop free sneakers, SF eventually became a full-fledged company with three components: agency, digital and magazine.
Pursuing media studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Woody was introduced to QuarkXPress (a precursor to InDesign) on one of the earliest Apple computers and began working for his college newspaper. Upon graduating, he spent years in London working in advertising, but eventually returned to Melbourne to work in fashion and film. Shortly after, he decided to utilize his skillsets and passion for sneakers to create a fun zine.
What took only a week, a Nikon Coolpix camera and 32 pages, Woody created Sneaker Freaker the magazine. It gained exposure from colette and Nike, which helped it eventually land in retailers like Barnes & Nobles. With all the success, Woody admits he never expected Sneaker Freaker to last or have as much of a cultural impact as it does today. The company is run on authenticity and has a bit of an old school flair—still sporting the same logo from 2002 and adhering to its print publication.
“We have a public broadcast here called the ABC, which got really strict rules around the ethics. If they do political stuff, ‘We have to do 50% from the left and 50% from the right.’ I always wanted to be the ABC of sneakers. I kind of wanted to do it responsibly. I want to do the story right.”
Aside from the magazine, Sneaker Freaker has also partnered with various brands to create published books. The most recent collaboration with Taschen, The Ultimate Sneaker Book, is a 700-page anthology covering 100 years of sneaker history. In this episode of BoH, Woody not only details the making of this book, but he also discusses the future of sneaker culture, his essentials and so much more.
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This episode features references to the following:
2:23 – Editor-in-Chief of Sneaker Freaker
3:21 – Business structure
4:00 – New Balance 997
5:00 – Print over digital
7:48 – New Balance 574
8:59 – Taschen
9:21 – Global Financial Crisis
10:16 – The Ultimate Sneaker Book
15:45 – Jim Davis
16:18 – Kihachiro Onitsuka
19:02 – Employees & hiring
20:40 – New York Times
26:54 – Life before Sneaker Freaker
28:30 – Dunlop KT-26
30:18 – adidas Rom
31:09 – Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
31:52 – QuarkXPress & Apple computer
34:36 – Start of Sneaker Freaker
37:00 – Nike Air Force 1 Low “Year of the Dog”
42:04 – colette
43:50 – Canon 5D
45:15 – Nike
54:15 – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
1:02:22 – Nike iD
1:05:17 – Direction of sneaker culture
1:05:34 – Nike vs adidas
1:09:17 – Filling Pieces
1:09:37 – FILA
1:1108 – Dapper Dan
1:13:10 – End. Clothing
1:15:05 – adidas Stan Smith
1:15:59 – Nike ACG
1:18:02 – Essentials