Sole Mates: Pandu Polo and the UNDEFEATED x Nike Dunk High NL

Co-founder of the Indonesia Sneaker Team speaks on his country’s bustling sneaker culture, his favorite silhouettes growing up and more.

Footwear 
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Streetwear and sneaker culture has seen a noticeable uptick in popularity throughout Indonesia in recent years and that can be attributed to two things: the rise of social media and the emergence of new retailers. The former has allowed residents of this corner of the world to be exposed to news and trends that surround the industry while the latter has afforded them more access to the actual products. And this profound appreciation for the lifestyle has been disseminated through its local communities as many have put forth valiant efforts to organize sneaker-focused community gatherings and events as well as create captivating content.

And one individual that is striving to propel this movement forward is Pandu Polo — a footwear aficionado and co-founder of the Indonesia Sneaker Team (IST) — one of the largest sneaker communities in the country. His burning ardor for sneaker history and storytelling has compelled him to educate his peers about the industry and ultimately form lasting bonds.

In this newest installment of Sole Mates, Polo took the time to sit down with HYPEBEAST and rave about UNDEFEATED’s Nike Dunk High NL design, his favorite silhouettes growing up, his aspirations for IST moving forward and more.

HB: You’ve always been someone who has a special thing for sneakers. How did you get into sneakers in the first place?

PP: I really started to fall in love with sneakers around my years in elementary school. I believe it started in the third grade when I started to play basketball. In that era I was gravitating a lot towards Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes, especially the adidas Crazy 8. From there I just started to get more heavily into it and I tapped into Jordans, Pippen and Rodman’s shoes with Nike and Converse.

So what was the most memorable first sneaker for you?

Aside from the adidas Crazy 8s, I definitely have fond memories of the Nike Air Zoom Flight 95 and Nike Air Zoom Flight 5.

You chose the Undefeated x Nike Dunk High NL for your Sole Mates selection, what is it about this shoe that resonates with you?

I love the blend of colors on this shoe. I remember drooling over these when I saw these for the first time. I love how while the colors are vivid, they’re not merged together in a tacky way. In addition, the shoe is built with quality leather and premium nubuck and suede materials. I was fortunate enough to cop these deadstock from a friend at a price that many would consider a steal given that I picked them up several years after their initial launch.

You’re one of the founders of the Indonesia Sneaker Team (IST) — a sneaker community that embraces all sneakers enthusiasts from all over Indonesia. Can you tell us about its genesis and how its movement has developed so far?

It’s crazy because we’ve become so much bigger over the years. Now we span across several cities in Indonesia which counts for around 15-17 regions. It all initially started from a get-together via one forum in Kaskus titled Sneakers Addict. From there, several members started to organize more gatherings and the Indonesia Sneaker Team was born. Our dream was to be able to embrace all sneaker lovers and become a community that could represent Indonesia. I can’t believe we hit our 11-year anniversary this year.

“The main goal when I started IST was to build and be part of a solid community, and represent Indonesia on an international scale.”

How many members have joined IST since it started? Is there a difference in taste of sneakers between generations?

As I recall, based on the initial members, internal and management as well as regionally, maybe around 100-150 people. I personally think that as long as you like sneakers, are present and active on the Facebook page, follow IG and come to our events, then you are considered part of the IST.

As far as taste goes, everyone in the group definitely panders towards different types of sneakers, references and brands. However, the way I see it is that at the end of the day we all love sneakers and enjoy talking about them and that is our red thread.

What would you say the main goal of starting IST is? With the shift of IST from an online community to a company, what direction do you want to take IST in the future?

The main goal when I started IST was to build and be part of a solid community and represent Indonesia on an international scale. Sometimes if you look at other communities, it’s all about collections, but in this community, the bonding between each other, the passion and knowledge sharing that we have for sneaker products and culture is quite deep.

I would say the community is more offline than it is online. We make a solid effort to meet up and get together. In terms of future direction, I see us growing our media platforms and potentially being a job site for those that are passionate about products and the culture in Indonesia.

“Sneakers have become so mainstream and have become one of, if not the most important fashion statement. I also love that there really are no age or gender restrictions in sneakers nowadays.”

What would you say you look for in a sneaker before copping it?

I’ve always based my liking for sneakers on the model, the comfort and the colorway. The history behind sneakers and the collaborative storytelling are also what add significant value for me. Nowadays I’ve also grown to love models that have obscure shapes. I’m still really meticulous about what I buy as well and definitely consider myself a quality over quantity type of person.

In your opinion, what is the difference between today’s sneaker industry and the past?

Definitely the quality of the products themselves. I think production nowadays has somewhat dropped off and the materials and technology on shoes aren’t as durable even though the prices have been hiked up. In general too, the culture has shifted drastically. Sneakers have become so mainstream and have become one of, if not the most important fashion statement. I also love that there really are no age or gender restrictions in sneakers nowadays.

Do you have any sneakers that you’re still on the hunt for?

Wow, this is really hard to decide because I have so many on my wish list. I’d definitely say all of the City Pack SB Dunks, the Futura x Nike SB Dunk High “FLOM”, the Dunk High “Deftones”, Hello Kitty x Nike Air Presto and the Nike Footscape Woven HTM.

This issue of Sole Mates was originally posted on HYPEBEAST ID and has been adapted accordingly.

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