We were very lucky to be able to catch up with Nike Master of Air Lalla, hailing from Paris France and this is such a dope interview we’re super gassed to get it up for your reading pleasure today. Enjoy!
Who are you? Where are you and what do you do outside of sneakers?
My name is Lalla, I was born and raised in Paris. I teach English as a second language to French kids in high school, Paris suburbs only! So pretty tough youngsters sometimes but I loooove my job ! And the kids love me too 😉
I’m into music also. How couldn’t I be? It was so big back then, back in the days. Just like all the good people from my generation, I like vinyl only, rap music, from the 90s early 2000s. All that good stuff. Outside of sneakers, there are clothes also. You have to match these babies right?
My generation was all about style, you had to match everything with your pair of kicks no matter what. What else is there? People always say I don’t like anything which isn’t true at all. I have a lot of things aside of kicks, I love heels too but never wear them, I love glasses, hats, old school jackets, long skirts, hoodies, everything oversized, I love art, books and traveling. Studying also, I’m still thinking about my long awaited PhD…. but for sure laziness will kill us all.
Ok let’s take it back how did you get into sneakers? And what was the first pair that you were really into?
I was 11 maybe 12, in junior high school. In some Paris schools you definitely had to have the style or you were just out of the game forever. The kids were ruthless!! My parents have always been pretty stylish, haircut, clothes and shoes also and my mum always wanted my brother and I to shine and look good. We used to spend every single weekend shopping religiously. It was just crazy back then. It was either with her and my brother or my girls from school. Of course kicks were a super important part of it. Adidas and Reebok were very strong back then in the playground, the classic and the freestyle were a must wear. All the girls were rocking them in many different colours. Then one day, one of my best friends Anne-Laure came with the craziest pair we ever laid our eyes on. It had this huge visible bubble incorporated inside the sole, it was simply amazing!!! We were all like: what is this? Isn’t it going to explode if you jump or press it too hard? Each one of us were allowed to touch it once only. It was so funny when I think about it today. Only some time later I realised it was the pair or rather the style I’d rock the most. She was rocking the Nike air Max Big Window from 1991. And I had to have it.
Then what happened how did your passion grow? And why are you passionate about sneakers, after all they’re only sneakers right? Or wrong?
So then I just kept on buying sneakers all the time. I just had to have them all. I got the shoe disease and it was also that thing that made you so cool and popular at school. They were more than shoes, they were the reflection of your personality, it was such a big statement, it made you who you were, an extension of yourself. It was like well if you’re rocking this you’re that type of person. My girls and I went crazy over it. Like drugs. Young people enjoyed cigarettes, weed and alcohol and shit but we were into sneakers! I will always remember this older girl at school, every week she came back with the freshest pair. She was our star.
So you know, to me junior high school was when it all began. It was such a special era for my family also… I won’t get into details but I always remember that part of my childhood as being the happiest period of my life. My mom definitely played a huge part in my relationship to these shoes. She never said no. We were so spoilt man, but because we had other issues, it was our thing that made us smile and feel good. Then it became a problem when I decided to keep them all and not throw them away because we’ve always lived in small apartments. And I used to share my room with my brother… So it got crazy…
What is the sneaker scene like in France?
The sneaker scene in France is pretty interesting but quite discreet, and underground I think. When I was younger it seemed huge you know how young kids like to have the latest stuff, felt like every kid was into it and searching for that next, even cooler pair. When I got older and attended university it seemed to me that nobody cared any more. That sneakers frenzy had disappeared. I think it was rather the fact that it moved to a more personal level and I didn’t feel the need to share it with anyone except my family who saw it literally grow in my bedroom since I lived at my mom’s for many years and I had to store my stuff there. And to be honest I’ve never really been into hanging around or simply interested in people who collected sneakers. I’ve had no sneakerhead friends for years and years until I came across some boys I shared a lot with… I didn’t really care about my people wearing kicks or not. Again it was my personal thing and it never interfered with my relationships with others. Hmmm this isn’t telling you much about the sneaker scene well I didn’t attend no sneaker meetings and stuff I don’t even know if all that actually existed back then. And girls didn’t care about kicks that much, it was more a masculine thing unlike today, women are taking the power now like crazy! But back then, women in sneakers were pretty rare…
How has the scene changed in recent years and what do you love and hate about the scene right now, today?
As for today’s scene, I simply hate what it has become. We didn’t live sneakers like this. We had our stacks of kicks, we loved it and consumed it and rocked it and killed it and spent memorable time with it and built our memories from it. It was just part of our lives, just like a woman putting on her bra in the morning. Today it’s too much, everybody wants a piece of it. Everybody calls himself a sneakerhead, a sneakeraddict, a sneaker collector, curator, whatever. Every body wants to shine thru it. To be the sneakers star. All the girls who used to wear random shoes and shit became sneaker experts the next day.
And you have events and meetings and whatever every month now!
It just got boring.
And the prices!!!
What is that???
What happened there???
2000 euros for a pair that cost $60 on eBay 10 years ago?? Why?? I’m like how can you even spends that much on a pair ??
And everyone is looking for the same collabs and limited edition and whatever they call grails… I can’t approve of today’s scene. I don’t like the idea that if you have money you can get anything you want and become the dopest collector in the world. We used to travel for pairs and enjoy the ride! Sneakers to me are more than that. They are a souvenirs of life and encounters and just happiness, it means so much more to me than that.
Is marketing, media, peer pressure making people want sneakers too much, making people do whatever they can to get them, even if they can’t afford them?
Yes most definitely! I’ve had an Instagram account for a year and a half now and I had absolutely no idea of what was going on there!!! You know I always have my usual websites updates and stores in Paris and I had no idea of that craziness. You have dozen of pairs releasings every week and people talking about it and wanting it and posting the next big thing and it’s just like radio harassment when you hear the next crappy song over and over again you just end up wanting it.
It is far too much.
And I don’t get how people can afford so many pairs all the time. It feels like brand propaganda, actually its not even brand it’s the people who promote it because they think it is cool and maybe they’ll make new friends if they have more pairs… I don’t know.
They want more and more and they get more and more. I wonder when it is going to fade and stop. because we are definitely climaxing. And you have to be careful not to get your own self lost in it. Like oh I need this and this and this one also! When you don’t at all!
What do you think about reselling and its impact on sneaker culture?
I think it’s a new form of business totally tolerated by brands who produce less so that you want it more. And here come the resellers! To me they’re like drug dealers, they provide your fix at the highest price possible knowing that you’d do anything to get your dose anyway. Ahahah!!
I disapprove of it of course, but they are here and the demand is huge so what can we do to fight it and them? The idea of buying only to resell is very weird to me but it’s the effect of this whole new fake love for sneakers.
You work with young people do you think the brands are doing any positive work to get young people into the sneaker industry whether that’s training programmes, internships, or creating more jobs that are not just jobs in sneaker shops?
I do work with young people but I’m not sure how brands are really helping with anything.
They do some internships there but it never ends up in a real job in the industry. Except for selling shoes in a store.
Is the sneaker game a man’s world or are women holding their own?
I think it totally was a man’s world but it is changing. Not enough though but we’re getting there. I see so many cool chicks doing their thing and looking good and loving it for real. But their share remains smaller than men’s. The women pairs aren’t always the best also. We are tired of that pink or those flowerish prints and all that cute stuff. So small feet have definitely less cool pairs available! I’m happy I’m a us men 7/7.5 so I have men women and even kids kicks too 🙂 !!!
Ok let’s get into your shoes give us the top 3 favourites that you own and the top 3 on your hitlist.
Ok. Don’t you know I hate this type of questions?? How can we pick 3 pairs??!!? Impossible!
Well I like any AM1 OG mesh a lot, black, blue red, grey. All the classic colours.
I have a lot of love for the ’95 escape pack that tan leather mixed with that mesh is straight perfection.
The BW Persian mesh is that pair I could wear everyday and it reminds me so much of my junior high school years. If I had to pick some hi-tops I’d take the Nike Air Magma. So simple and beautiful too.
See, nothing crazy right?? I’m pretty basic.
As for the ones I’d love to have I’d say the same: any old school mesh AM1s or AM ‘94s or BWs, I’ve been wanting the animal supreme pack 95 also for a min now.
And maybe some old Humara or ACG ones, old running or trail style no one cares about.
We saw you on the amazing Nike Masters of Air film how was that experience and how did they find you?
The Nike Masters of Air experience was absolutely amazing and I guess it is what made you contact me in the first place right?
Because I’m no one. I’m just me and some jealous people asked me why me? We don’t know you in the sneaker community or you don’t have this super limited edition pair that we have or you don’t know about this or that and blah blah… I always reply that I came across these but I didn’t get these because I didn’t like them or simply I couldn’t afford them at the time but I’m pretty old in this game and I’ve always been following my heart and never got anything thinking it would gain some crazy value in 10 years or shit. I love sneakers and have been wearing them almost exclusively since I was 10. It is such a big part of my life and at the same time the most natural thing to me like eating or drinking. I’ve never done it for fame or anything.
Nike chose me through Instagram I guess and because I used to lend some pairs to some events. But I don’t know. There are so many heads in France!!
And yes it was the most amazing experience ever. Getting to meet the other 8 was incredible. I like the fact that we’re all very down to earth people and we have genuine love for it.
So what else is happening for you sneaker-related this year and when are you coming to London to visit us???
I’m not sure so I’ll say nothing for now! We have some plans with the other MOAs but we’ll talk about it in due time. Life goes on. Holidays are coming. And the funny thing is I’ve just had the worst foot surgery ever and I can’t walk for now so the question is: did I wear sneakers for too long so that it deformed my feet that bad? So it got me thinking: will too many sneakers kill the sneaker?