Whether you know him as that guy from Fight Club with the crazy attitude, or the Sneaker addict from The Tyra Banks show, Chris Vidal has become the shoelebrity mainly responsible for the proliferation of sneakers on the web. Vidal tells Format Magazine about his experience at the Nike Design Studio, his love for sneakers, why he’s earned the reputation of having a “crazy attitude” and why he hates the term sneakerhead.
“A lot of the people that come into the store feel that way, they know Iâ€™m a no-holds-barred kind of dude, if I feel like saying something I doâ€¦and I try to keep it humorous at the same time you know; I might offend you but I try to do it in a funny way.”
Format: Youâ€™ve described yourself as â€œthe guy from Fight Club with the crazy attitude.â€ What is that about?
Chris Vidal: A lot of the people that come into the store feel that way, they know Iâ€™m a no-holds-barred kind of dude, if I feel like saying something I doâ€¦and I try to keep it humorous at the same time you know; I might offend you but I try to do it in a funny way.
Format: What’s an average day for you like?
Chris Vidal: The store is so intense at times, from the regular heads, the first timers, the consignees, the foreigners and then the parents who just donâ€™t understand it could be overwhelming at times. Flight Club is a totally different type of store you know, itâ€™s a consignment shop, so its never not busy and we ainâ€™t never not hustling to get people the best possible product out thereâ€¦
Format: In your list of the Top 10 Sneakers of 2007 you mentioned that you hate the word sneakerheads? Can you explain why?
Chris Vidal: I mean, I donâ€™t actually hate the word in itself, I just hate the publicâ€™s perception of what a sneakerhead is or how they categorize by appearance, some young kid spending all his allowance on shoes or the one who waits on lines, matches his outfit around his shoesâ€¦blah blah blah, we come in all shapes, sizes and ages and from all walks of life, youâ€™d be surprised the people who are most passionate about shoes, definitely do not fall into the sneakerhead criteriaâ€¦
Format: How do you respond to comments from outsiders along the lines of â€˜whatâ€™s the big deal, theyâ€™re just shoes?â€™
Chris Vidal: I actually love these questions because they come from people who are wearing $20 even $30 thousand dollar diamond necklaces, $10,000 watches, $3,000 shoulder bags, tailored $5,000 suits, drive Bentleys, Mercedes Benzâ€™s and what-have-you. I look at them and say, â€˜how much was that Audemars Piguet on your wrist? Nice Manolos lady, or wow, thatâ€™s a nice Jimmy Choo bag you got there.â€™ Their immediate response is something dumb like, â€˜oh this thing, yes itâ€™s a one-of-a-kindâ€™ or â€˜yeah I spent a pretty penny on this, or its only available in such and such,â€™ so I ask them, so whatâ€™s the fuckinâ€™ difference? Whether itâ€™s a limited edition watch, a collectible car, stamps or even a one-of-one anything, it still holds individual value to that particular person.
So why ask why if you donâ€™t understand anything? Better a kid be into shoes than something else you know; these shoes are turning teens into responsible young adults. With all the buying and reselling, these kids are doing research, learning about a culture, finding venues to make legitimate money and ways to spend that money productively. We got a kid Julian aka Young Juju, he was a customer at FCNY [who] used to call me all the time to ask about shoes and shit; â€˜should I buy this should I buy that?â€™ Eventually he got a job at FC and this year he took his moms out to dinner at a really ritzy restaurant and paid for it himself; shocked his moms when he paid the check. So itâ€™s not just collecting anymore you knowâ€¦itâ€™s a business that these kids understand.
Format: Whatâ€™s your holy grail?
Chris Vidal: Sorry guys, not to be conceited but I ainâ€™t got one right now. I mean, if you really want something you can get it, especially if youâ€™re in the business you know… I mean, I got Original Jordan 1â€™s, Undftd AJ4â€™s, Playstation AF1â€™s, Entourages, Ps3 am 90 x 360, tons of Air Forces and Jordans so how could I have a holy grail. I guess some of the shoes I got are considered peoplesâ€™ grails but I already got my grail of all grails — my girlfriend Melody.
Format: Besides Flight Club what other ideas and projects are you working on?
Chris Vidal: Anything and that can put some funds in the actâ€¦hahaha, nah but seriously, Iâ€™ve been working with Sean Williams on You Know You Got Sole, a sneaker documentary and a couple of random projects here and there that I shouldnâ€™t mention yetâ€¦
Format: Can you elaborate a little more on the You Know You Got Sole documentary — what it’s about and when can we expect to see it?
Chris Vidal: You Know You Got Sole is an upcoming sneaker documentary about NYC sneaker culture. It addresses a broad range of topics such as men who wear size 15 and up. It speaks to female sneaker wearers. It has a segment about laces and a couple of other topics that other films and TV programs did not address. I’m a creative consultant on the film and I’m also featured in it as well. Here is a link to the trailer that features me: http://www.youtube.com/seanope.
Format: Besides Flight Club obviously, where do you go to get your sneaker fix?
Chris Vidal: Anywhere and everywhere; ALife, Packers, Nort Recon, Premium Laces, Atmos, Classic Kicks, Sneaker Spot in downtown Brooklyn and Patta in Amsterdam through my friends over there Max, Edson and Gee.
Format: How do you feel about the proliferation of sneakers on the Internet?
Chris Vidal: Itâ€™s great, and being a part of the movement was and is an honor. Not to brag or boast but I feel that I was a major part of the movement with all the TV press Iâ€™ve done. And that Tyra [Banks] show was seen by over 9 million people! That was a big boost you know, but that was a blessing and a curse thoughâ€¦damn Tyra wouldnâ€™t even give me a copy for myself.
Format: You mentioned The Tyra Banks show. How was the week without sneaker web surfing, trading, iming and anything dealing with sneakers for you?
Chris Vidal: First off, The Tyra [Banks] Show was a blessing and a curse. My girlfriend Melody thought it was funny to call the show after she was watching and they said â€˜do you know someone with an addiction? If so please callâ€¦â€™ How funny was that? I mean, I was blessed to be able to bring the whole phenomenon and mystery of the sneaker culture to mainstream TV [and] show the world that we are regular people from all walks of life who wear and collect shoes that we consider to be more than just tennis shoes to show them that we connect to strangers via shoes that are somewhat focal points in our past.
It was a chance for the parents to see how and why their kids are learning the business and becoming more aware of the responsibility of handling money. The week was hard and mind-wrenching. I mean…I am so used to waking up [and] checking blogs and sites to keep up with the newest news and I couldn’t [have] no connection to the outside world. [I] missed out on some good deals on shoes and felt lost at times. Being on the show was cool, giving up my PS Air Force Ones wasn’t; getting them back was great.
Format: What was your experience like at the Nike Design Studio?
Chris Vidal. It was and is always a unique one. I love the idea of getting a pair of shoes that I design myself and know that Iâ€™m the only one with them, I mean, who wouldnâ€™t?
Format: Whatâ€™s the first pair of sneakers you ever bought?
Chris Vidal: Wow, dude, Iâ€™m 34 gonna be 35 years old this year. I canâ€™t remember that, it might have been a pair of Puma Clydes, Aviaâ€™s or Ellesseâ€™s way back in the day.
Format: How much will you not spend on a pair of sneakers?
Chris Vidal: Thatâ€™s so hard to say because if I really want something I get it, no matter what it takes, you only live once and if you pass on something because you ainâ€™t wanna come out of pocket, you usually regret it later.
Format: What’s next for you?
Chris Vidal: Damn if I knew that Iâ€™d have the winning Mega Millions numbers alreadyâ€¦nah but hopefully we will all see something different in a few coming from that guy with the crazy attitude from Flight Clubâ€¦
Format: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Chris Vidal: Why did I forget something? Oh, this is the part where I give shout-outs and thank youâ€™s right? [Laughs] peace Iâ€™m out!