Sole Mates: Blondey and the adidas Superstar

The THAMES MMXX founder, skater and artist talks about his latest Superstar collaboration, what’s next in his footwear journey and more.

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Footwear 
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Mononymous in name but polymathic in practice, London-based Blondey has worn many hats during his 23 years on the planet: brand owner, pro skater, artist, model and — most recently — new father. But besides running his THAMES MMXX label, presenting his art at London galleries and squeezing in time to film skate clips, Blondey is also a tenured adidas team member/collaborator who’s set to release his fifth and final see-through Superstar collaboration.

Since the release of his “Footwear White/Core Black/Gum” Superstar in December 2019, Blondey’s signature footwear has turned heads with its translucent uppers, designed to show off the wearer’s socks. This unique play on what’s arguably adidas Originals‘ most influential model garnered great attention across the inaugural launch, which was followed by a smoky all black colorway, a chilly “Starlight Blue” and a friends-and-family “Tourmaline Green” limited to 50 pairs. Now, the multihyphenate is bidding a fond farewell to his set of Superstars before he begins new footwear projects, reading a final “Schwartz Tint” colorway that will release on the THAMES MMXX webstore January 30 at midnight London time.

Ahead of the “Schwartz Tint” drop, Blondey sat down with HYPEBEAST for the latest installment of Sole Mates, where he discussed everything from his personal history with the Superstar to what it feels like seeing other people wearing his shoes, his famous sock choices and what’s coming next from him and adidas.

HYPEBEAST: What got you into sneakers?

Blondey: Well, I wouldn’t say I am, really, but owning at least one pair of them is a prerequisite for skateboarding, and having your name printed down the sides of them is part of having a career in it! Having said that, I do know what I like — and I do quite often enjoy playing “shag, marry, kill” with the [gifted] shoes that turn up at my studio. I don’t know if you play that game in America, but it basically entails putting three pairs of shoes on a table and imagining that there is — for some reason — a man, pointing a gun to your head, forcing you to pick one pair to wear once, one pair to wear every single day for the rest of your life, and one pair to banish from the earth forever in whatever way you see fit.

Tell me about your personal history and experiences with the Superstar before you collaborated on it.

At the time I first laid eyes upon them I had no knowledge of most things, let alone of the subcultural relevance of sports shoes. To me, then, they were just a staple, one that no sports shop in the world would be complete without. It wasn’t until I was much older that I came to appreciate them as I do now. It’s remarkable to me that I feel such a personal connection to the same product that every living member of my family has likely had at some point or another in their lives.

Let’s talk about your collaboration(s). What was the feeling like the first time you laid eyes on the finished product?

I was over the moon! Not just because of the way it looked, but because of what it meant, too. I’ve tried, in the past, to explain to people who don’t skate how much it means to be given the opportunity to have your name on a shoe, but it’s difficult. For me to have been given that opportunity — despite not only not having my name on a board but not having a board sponsor at all at the time — was and still is highly unconventional. Of course, it was really important to me that I would feel deserving of it by the time the shoe came out, hence the video part that was its advert.

You’re known to skate in knee-high, often colorful socks. How do you balance that with your see-through shoes? Is the sock choice based off the sneaker, the sneaker choice based off the sock or is it an entirely symbiotic sartorial relationship?

Unfortunately I am finding less and less time to skate these days, and I don’t want to waste a second of that time deciding which colour socks to wear and with what shoes. I suppose that’s why I have, perhaps subconsciously, developed a tendency to pick a uniform and stick with it for months at a time. I think that one of the major perks of owning a clothing company and having multiples of the same products in your wardrobe is that you can do that without it quickly getting disgusting.

How do you feel when you see someone wearing or skating in your shoes?

It makes me very happy! But I am more often stopped in the street by people who say they’d love to own a pair than by people who actually do. I’d prefer for my products to go directly into the hands of those who really want them, than to those who just want to sell them on to those people for an inflated price, and I do my very best to ensure that that happens — but it’s hard, and, in the case of the Superstar, the best solution seemed to be to simply make more.

“I hope that my relationship with [adidas] will be a long-lasting one, with plenty of time and opportunities to develop products from scratch, but there are so many silhouettes like the Superstar and Gazelle which I would love to get versions of under my belt first.”

Now that you’ve released the final chapter of your Superstar collaboration, what are you looking to do next in the world of footwear?

I’m doing a Gazelle. I hope that the people at adidas won’t mind me sharing that with you. I hope that my relationship with the brand will be a long-lasting one, with plenty of time and opportunities to develop products from scratch, but there are so many silhouettes like the Superstar and Gazelle which I would love to get versions of under my belt first.

What are your thoughts on the state of the sneaker industry in 2021?

I really don’t know much about it. But if you are pushing me for a statement of sorts I’ll say this: I wouldn’t have thought that the rate at which customers are coming to expect new products is necessarily conducive to designing the type that will still be worn in 50 years, like the Superstar. But maybe that’s not the goal right now anyway. Maybe it’d be stupid to hope for anything to last for that long these days.

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