You might know Chris Klemens as the social media persona who struck comedy gold with a viral series of street interviews across American cities, or, perhaps, you’re more familiar with him as the podcast host of Unhinged With Chris Klemens, a self-described “off the rails, no seat belts ride” where he gives his blunt takes on relevant topics. Here, at Hypebeast, however, we know Klemens as the Sole Mates subject whose dog ate his homework.
After learning of the fashion devotee’s appreciation for the Martine Rose x
How did Booger wreak havoc on your shoes?
I was in New York for a friend’s birthday. I leave Booger in hotel rooms all the time. I mean, not all the time [laughs], but when I’m out, sometimes I’ll just leave her. She loves sleeping, and she’s never been a chewer. I came back to the room and I just yelled, “Booger!” I look in, and I see a hotel slipper completely destroyed, which I don’t really give a sh*t about because it’s a hotel slipper. But then I see the back of my Bottega slides chewed apart and these Nike x Martine Rose Shox destroyed. I saw red.
Tragic news, but at least you can laugh about it now. Who or what got you into sneakers?
I don’t remember having a love for sneakers as much as I did just a love for clothing. Growing up, I had a lot of shoes that, if I looked back on them, I would probably vomit. But at the time, I just thought they were the coolest things. They weren’t even a name brand. They were just those shoes that they make for kids that look cool but are still childish.
The first specific pair I recall was some adidas Sambas I got in middle school. It’s funny to me that they’re so hot right now because they were seen as indoor soccer shoes back then. My older brother played indoor soccer, and I loved the shoe. So I got some at Kohl’s, and I thought I was the coolest person ever wearing indoor soccer shoes to school.
I remember later I saved up a ton of money to buy a pair of Lacoste tennis shoes, which is so random now. But I just remember they were color-blocked and that was probably my first real memory of like, “Holy sh*t, I just bought a dream pair of shoes.” Before that, I just got whatever I was given. It was a lot of hand-me-downs.
How did growing up in Delaware influence your interest in sneakers?
There’s no sneaker game here. I mean, there may be more so now as sneaker culture has really taken off in such a mainstream way. But one of the first times that I remember sneakers being a thing was when I did cross country. It was a lot of ASICS. It’s so funny that New Balance and these other brands have blown up in such a mainstream way because, to me, I was like, “God, these are the ugliest shoes.” I had a lot of foot and knee problems, so I had to have geriatric shoes, like fat soles. I was like, “Jesus, these are so ugly.” And now b*tches wear them to Paris Fashion Week.1 of 4
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Did you ever own a pair of Nike Shox when you were younger? What did you think of them at the time?
I didn’t have a pair, but I do remember having thoughts about them because my older brother had a pair and he would play basketball. I just remember thinking, “Nike Shox will make you jump to the moon.” There were these As Seen On TV-type shoes that were plastic and had springs on the bottom of the midsole that were meant to help you jump higher. It was like a trampoline for your feet. So I always thought the Nike Shox were the legitimate version of that. And that, to me, was always really exciting because it was such a mainstream shoe, and it looked like something that was wacky that I loved.
“[The Martine Rose x Nike Shox MR4] is the weirdest-looking shoe, but I’m obsessed with it.”
I never had a pair. I just thought I would look too weird in them. At the time, they seemed like a difficult shoe for me to style, which is so funny now that my favorite shoe is the Martine Rose collaboration. It’s the weirdest-looking shoe, but I’m obsessed with it.
When did the Martine Rose x Nike Shox MR4 “Black Comet Red” come into the picture?
On my Explore Page on Instagram, I saw a picture of someone wearing them and I was like, “What are these?” They were so weird, and there have obviously been so many sneaker collabs and a lot of them just sort of feel … I know people are going to f*cking hate what I’m about to say, but with Aimé Leon Dore’s New Balance collabs, for example, all they did was pick some colors and throw their logo onto the design. I like the Martine Rose x Nike Shox collab because it feels like a picture-perfect definition of what a collab should be. It has this very iconic silhouette of a Nike Shox, but then Martine Rose brought in their own unique perspective on it and made it a mule with a pointed toe.
You can really dress the shoe up, and you can really dress it down. This is going to sound sh*tty, but I love that it’s not for everyone. I love that it’s a way for people who gravitate toward that kind of style to really elevate.
What is your favorite design design detail on the shoe?
The Shox themselves. There’s something about when you’re standing there on your heel and feeling the bounce that’s just amazing. It’s a really good replacement for a fidget spinner. I do love the toe. There are so many aspects to it. To me, it’s more than just a shoe, it’s a way of life. The way that it’s a mule, and I have never once felt like the shoe could slip off or fall off is really magical. The whole thing is a work of art.1 of 3
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How do you think this shoe fits into today’s sneaker lexicon? Do you think it’ll have longevity?
Wow, this is a good question. I’m like, “It’s for me.” I will say I think this shoe is the black sheep of sneaker collabs. I think a lot of sneakerheads might write it off because it’s not a shoe that anybody can just totally buy and put on and rock. I think a lot of people are turned off by the fact that it is probably a more “feminine”-looking shoe. But I think that’s what makes me love it more.
I don’t know if it will have longevity, but I think it’s definitely one of those shoes that if you get it, you get it. And it will have longevity for those people.
Do you have a favorite way to style them?
They’ve honestly made me really enjoy summer. I normally hate this season because I don’t like wearing shorts, and it’s also hard to look fashion-forward while not sweating your balls off. Since I have the all-black pair with the red Shox, I love wearing black ankle socks and then a skirt or maybe black shorts. I think that just looks so fresh and clean. It’s almost as if the Addams family was drafted into the NBA.
How do you think these shoes represent your larger footwear taste?
I love a statement shoe, but I think in order to have statement shoes be effective, you do need to have your fair share of basics. I have a lot of Air Jordans, adidas Sambas and Air Force 1s. I got the Gucci Sambas that are blue, yellow and red, and I do love those. But even those ride the line of being a statement and also being casual. I really do think the Martine Rose x Nike Shox represent the kind of shoe that I love. They are unique, and when I pull them off, I feel even better because I’m able to pull them off. There are days when I put on the shoe and I’m like, “Okay, this is not a Martine Rose x Nike Shox day.” I love something weird that a lot of people wouldn’t naturally gravitate to. I know that that makes me sound like a pick-me girl, but I think it’s true.1 of 3
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You’ve been posting content online for almost 11 years. How do you think your affinity for fashion and footwear has helped shape your digital identity?
My style has been able to communicate my point of view with things. I’m going through this phase right now in life and my career where I feel almost unsure of myself, which is weird because, for the last almost 11 years, I’ve been nothing but confident and firm in what I want to do and where I want to be. But right now, fashion is the one realm where I feel confident in my abilities to put together a polished, finished look. It’s been really helpful in expressing myself when I don’t feel like I know how elsewhere.
It’s also really cool to look back and see the development of my style. If you look at what I was wearing in elementary school and high school, I mean, I was in J. Crew button-downs, khakis, loafers and Sperrys. That’s just because I was really afraid to dress the way I wanted to, and I just wanted to blend in. I just didn’t want to stand out because when you fly under the radar that means you won’t get picked on. So, it’s been really cool to look back and be like, “Wow, Chris, that was a hot mess of an outfit, but you were really breaking out of your comfort zone there.”
“I think there’s something so cool about seeing an item of fashion that has wear and tear to it, to see the life it has had.”
What are your thoughts on the current state of sneaker culture?
I am not going to lie to you. I’ve dipped out of the conversation of sneaker culture because, at least when I bowed out, it felt very judgmental, critical and straight. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it wasn’t really a community that I identified with. I like to wear the stuff I buy. I like to put it to use. I like to crease my Jordans. There are obviously some shoes that I buy to collect, but those are really few and far between. I bought a pair of Loewe Grass Sneakers, and I won’t wear those because they are so special and I don’t want them dirty. But otherwise, the point of having these shoes is to wear them and incorporate them into your style. I think there’s something so cool about seeing an item of fashion that has wear and tear to it, to see the life it has had. I think everybody takes it a little too seriously, and that, to me, takes all the fun out of buying these things.
Why are sneakers important to you?
Sneakers are so important for me because, without them, we’d have to be in boots all the time [laughs]. I love the endless possibilities there are with sneakers. It sounds so stupid to be talking so limitlessly about something like a sneaker, but I know when I’m taking a step in my Martine Rose x Nike Shox I feel empowered. I love the literal foundation of my outfit and the way it feels when I walk. If I didn’t have sneakers tomorrow, my life would still go on. But I think it’s just such a fun way to express yourself.
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