When someone is asked to think of sneakerheads in the Gulf, a name pops up instantly: Instagram and Sneaker collector KicksTQ. The Kuwaiti Instagram influencer and Sneaker collector has been a major force shaping the urban culture and lifestyle in the region. A success story in all aspects, the humble beginnings of KicksTQ and consequent journey to fame is a true inspiration for all of us, and who better to speak about it than KicksTQ himself. We had the chance to sit down with him in Dubai recently to discuss sneakers, business, success and culture. Enjoy!
What got you first interested in sneakers?
The answer to this one was quick and swift: Michael Jordan! KicksTQ credits his early interest in the sneaker industry to the Basketball Legend whose Jordans have shaped the industry and urban culture since their first release.
“I grew up idolising Michael Jordan. It’s because of him that I started seeing sneakers as cool, as an expression of ones self, and as something more than just a product. My passion for Basketball only made that interest all the more pronounced. Back in the day there would be just one Jodran release and I’d be the kid waiting in line with prepared savings in order to buy a pair. Fast forward, one pair after the other, I started accumulating quite a collection.”
What are your two cents on Fashion?
Whoever follows KicksTQ on Instagram understands all too well that the page is not only about sneakers. Jeans, T-shirts, Accessories and more embellish each and every picture posted on the page. One would describe the page as more of a Fashion platform than an exclusive sneakers paradise.
“Fashion to me is a way of expressing yourself, who you are, it’s a medium of art, a creative process that allows you to explore new worlds. I get inspired from fashion icons, music, paintings, photography, and so much more. That’s what my page is about: It’s about turning accessories (sneakers and apparel) into art, all as a result of inspiration. I hope my followers can see past the superficial and materialistic side and focus on all the details I put into each picture: lighting, contrast, juxtaposition, the composition of colours within the outfits, the choice of scenery, even the caption which may sometimes pose as a double entendre.
What made you start posting on Instagram?
“I spend most my free time exercising and hooping. When I injured my shoulder two years ago, I wasn’t able to do either. The alternative: cultivating my passion for sneakers and fashion. I decided to start an account on Instagram just for fun, trying to build a page for sneakers that could reflect who I am and use it as a platform for where I could post things I am passionate about. So I bought a camera and started taking pictures of my sneakers, going to nice spots and using my kicks as the focus.
My system is quite simple: I use my sneakers as props and treat them as items that aren’t just used for your feet. I then conceptualise an outfit around each pair and take it from there, usually with on foot and outfit pics to follow. The quality of the photo along with the backdrop must be on point. Using the appropriate hashtags and tagging the necessary is crucial in order to be featured on IG accounts with a significant following.
You can’t sit with a sneaker head without asking about their views on the development of the sneaker industry. Much has happened over the past years, from bots and fakes ruining the market to a boom in sneaker purchases across the globe. A mixture of enthusiasm and frustration came to greet this question when KicksTQ was asked.
“The sneaker industry is quite different today. Although I am happy that the uptake of sneakers worldwide has exploded, that has taken away from the sentimental value and exclusivity. People are not even aware of the story behind the sneakers, or who Michael Jordan is, in terms of Jays. There is a herd mentality: people buying kicks because others are buying it. For many, sneakers are just expensive products used to climb the social ladder. That’s not how I envision the product or the culture surrounding this industry. I must say I am nostalgic towards the good old days. Then there is the issue with the proliferation of fakes, that’s a whole other topic!”
Kuwait Sneaker Market
“The sneaker market in Kuwait is not quite there yet, the supply is very limited and the street culture is not mature enough to nurture a vibrant community of sneaker heads. The issue is also pertinent to logistics: Stores don’t know how to deal with the releases or with the organisation of the raffles yet. To be frank, the level of awareness about brands and the urban culture behind the kicks and fashion is unsatisfying. There certainly is progression with select group of influencers shaping the sneaker market, but the youth still have much to learn.”
Covering the face: what’s it all about?
Many wonder why KicksTQ holds his hand to his face and covers it while taking most of his posts. Is it an illuminati sign, him checking his watch awkwardly at every shot, or something that’s much more meaningful. The man himself answers:
“It all started when I first started to pose for my outfit pics. I wasn’t used to the camera or to posing for shots for that matter, so I was clueless as to how I should stand or where my hands should stay. Long story short, It started with me not taking myself seriously, I was laughing at first and covering my face while doing so, but it developed into a signature, a way to ascertain my personal brand, a way to sign off on each picture as well as a method for the viewer to focus more on the outfit and composition of each photo and not my facial expressions. It wasn’t by design, I’ll tell you that much.”
If you’re not one of the 64,000 Instagramers following KicksTQ, make sure to check his page and follow him @kickstq
2450 A photo posted by TQ (@kickstq) on
A photo posted by TQ (@kickstq) on
A photo posted by TQ (@kickstq) on
Photo Credit: Knockbkk.com