Bobbito Garcia

Bobbito Garcia

When Raekwon calls a man ‘The Don King of the footwear game’ and that man releases his very own model Air Force 1’s, it’s time for people sit up and take note. Robert ‘Bobbito’ Garcia was born in New York 41-years-ago and has left his indelible mark on the city that never sleeps. Whether as a broadcaster on The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, a player on one of the city’s many basketball courts or as a writer for Vibe and his own magazine, Bounce Magazine, Bobbito does not do things by half.

Having blessed the world with some unique colorways, earlier this year, Bobbito is soon to release the Kool Bob Love fall and winter pack, featuring a high-top AF1 that looks like the sporty cousin of his hometown’s favorite construction boot. The whole deal is almost too much to bear for the Puerto Rican sneaker aficionado.

“…now, I’m 41 and I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, but in the `80s and `90s, […] I was wearing original, unique and customized sneakers all throughout that timeframe.”

Format: What was your first thought when Nike asked you to design a shoe for the Air Force 1’s 25th anniversary?
Bobbito: Well, I mean obviously I was tickled. I purchased my first Air Force 1’s back in 1983 and was immediately taken by the comfort of it, and then I came to swear by them, especially, for fashion as well, so it’s kind of interesting. If you think about the first six players that endorsed the shoe – Bobby Jones, Mychal Thompson, Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes, Calvin Natt and Moses Malone – none of them had a signature Air Force 1 and, in fact, even Rasheed, of recent years, he’s had his own Rasheed Wallace, but the Air Force 1 has never really borne anyone’s name. So I was getting a Kool Bob Love AF1, with pictures of me on the insole and part of my nickname, The Kool Bob Love on the back heel. I mean, I can’t even say it’s a dream come true, because I couldn’t have even fathomed that.

Format: What was your creative process for coming up with the Kool Bob Loves?
Bobbito: Well, the spring pack were all low-cuts and I wanted to put together unique colors and combinations and I think I achieved that, because I’ve never seen – not that I know every sneaker ever released –, but if you look at the three shoes altogether, I don’t know of any shoe brand or even model that those combinations were replicated on. I felt good about that and also I wanted to reach the young audience, as well as my generation and that was achieved as well. Both groups were extremely happy.

With the fall and winter pack that’s about to come out, which you can see at Bouncemag.com, which is my website – I have a blog there – I have the Puerto Rico Red and the Puerto Rico Blue, which were inspired by the flag, and then I have the mac and cheese, and then I have the beef and broccoli.

Bobbito Garcia

Format: At the height of your addiction when you collected sneakers, how many pairs did you own?
Bobbito: I wouldn’t even call myself an addict anymore and I never was really someone who would boast about how many sneakers I owned. That was never the point of contention for me. It was always about what I wore. Although now, I’m 41 and I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, but in the `80s and `90s, and it’s well documented in my book, Where’d You Get Those? New York City’s Sneaker Culture 1960 – 1987, there are a ton of pictures in there that clearly show that I was wearing original, unique and customized sneakers all throughout that timeframe.

Format: You recently came over to Europe for a street ball related trip. Did you get to check the event Nike had organized for Milan Fashion Week?
Bobbito: I was in Madrid when the Basketball Federation of Spain staged its first ever street basket exhibition, I was the only U.S. representative, but there were players there from Spain, Africa, France, Holland and Germany. We weren’t grouped by nationality, we all played together and that was amazing. That whole country is just basketball crazed right now, because they hosted the EuroBasket 2007 Championship, in which Spain took silver and they won at the World Championship in Japan, in 2006. It was just an amazing, amazing experience. I didn’t make it out to Milan, because I had already been booked months ago to DJ in L.A. with Spinna, my partner, at the Wonderful party, which is a Stevie Wonder tribute and Nike only contacted me a week and a half before the Milan event, unfortunately. I would have loved to have been there.

Bobbito Garcia

Format: You became involved in a charity drive to send sneakers to deprived children in Africa. How did that come about and is it proving successful?
Bobbito: I heard about Hoops 4 Hope and, while editor in chief at Bounce Magazine, ran a story about the incredible program which brings basketball, uniform and shoe donations from the U.S. to South Africa and Zimbabwe youth. They provide the items, give basketball clinics and share life skills and HIV prevention while they have the attention. I’ve been sending them a box of sneakers every couple of months since `03 and also helped raise a couple of thousand dollars through auctioned-off celebrity autographed sneakers, which we collected while shooting the ESPN TV series, It’s The Shoes. Because of all my help, Hoops 4 Hope was able to build an outdoor court in Harare, Zimbabwe in `06. They dedicated it in my name!

Format: So who are Bobbito Garcia’s top three of all time street ballers?
Bobbito: Go to Bouncemag.com and you can read all through my blog and there’s a ton of mentions of playground legends and stories, anecdotes, game descriptions and we also have Bounce Magazine which is a print publication. Our new issue just dropped for October, we have another one coming out in November, people can subscribe through the site and order back issues, for sure check out the site. I appreciate the traffic.

Bobbito Garcia

Just to take you back in the day for a second, are there any acts coming out now that you think would have sounded good on (the now defunct) Fondle `Em Records?
Bobbito: Nah, I don’t think that at all. That label was a wonderful, wonderful experience for me, but it was finite. When I stopped it in 2001, I really just moved on. I had so much other stuff going on: I was writing a book, which finally came out three years later and that took a whole lot of time, effort, energy and emotion. I don’t miss doing the radio show with WKCR and I don’t miss doing the label. Those were all things that I thought I was fortunate to have done extremely well and receive a lot of acclaim and love for. I still do to this day, but it’s not like there is a continuum, there in the past and they’re going to stay there.

Format: You’ve done so many things: DJing, hosting radio shows, writing, playing ball, hosting TV shows. What challenges do you feel there are left for you?
Bobbito: I continually put a lot of work into my personal life, as you can imagine with the amount of stuff I’ve done, it’s suffered. A lot of travelling and a lot of just, you know, disconnect. The last couple of years I’ve been trying to work on my family and my friends and strengthening that, hopefully, one day, I’ll have a wife and some children, and be on my merry way, but still single for now.

Bobbito Garcia

Kobi Annobil

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9 comments

  1. That sneakers are pretty tight, do u have another models available?, and u keep designing aight,u might be so…Full respek 4 u.. peace

  2. Emil Ã…hlberg says:

    I wonder.. if you guys will give me the permission to use the pictures in this article for my project about sneakers that I make in school?

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