One Giant Step

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The limited edition, artist series sneaker has become a huge category for lifestyle footwear brands in recent years. No longer are shoes solely produced for a given hobby or sport, but have become the hobby themselves. In addition to the gaggle of basketball, tennis, skateboarding or running heroes, we can now add shoe closet of Imelda Marcos-ian proportions to the laundry list of brand-based aspirations.

Sam Flores
Sam Flores
Adidas Originals and 180 LA have taken the "huge" aspect of this trend quite literally with the web film "The Left-Right Project," the first film in a series dubbed "Celebrate Originality" that will be rolling out this spring and summer. The film stars a passenger van-sized pair of Adidas Superstars, the brand's iconic shell-toe sneaker, split between the East and West and customized by artists representing each respective American coastline. While the brand's goal to show Originals as "a vehicle for self-expression, creativity, authenticity and individuality" sounds a bit lofty for a shoe, the artists with which the brand chooses to work certainly help. In this case, Sam Flores and Upper Playground represent the left, while NYC and Paris-based Surface2Air collective steps in for the right.

Surface2Air
Surface2Air
180 LA art director Erwin Federizo immediately sees the connection between sneakers and artistic vision. "Art is a way in which people make a statement about themselves and about culture," he says. "In a way, so is footwear. It seems natural that there are a lot of people with a love for both, that want to bring that love of art, culture and sneakers together. Adidas Originals, in particular, beg for that kind of creativity."

The giant shoes took The Character Shop in Santa Clarita, CA three weeks to build and were formed out of foam and different types of resin. The artists had three days to complete their work. Gordon Hull of Surface2Air, who has teamed with Adidas before on various footwear, apparel and art projects, didn't see the gargantuan sneaker as any different than those that people actually wear. "It's always more about having a visual idea that can translate to any scale," says Hull. "There was no difference between the way we approached the Adicolor shoe and the way we looked at this giant shoe. It's not thinking about how to work with a shoe, it's more about looking at different ways of working on a canvas. So, it was really about having fun and doing something we thought would look nice."

Of course, things could've turned out much differently. "When they told me I'd be customizing a giant shoe, my first thought was to set it on fire," Hull laughs. "But, y'know, we ended up taking a more conservative route and just painting it."
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