In a retail world of ready made sneakers, finding a sneaker that engages individuality is a rarity among the shoe giants that mass produce clones that are mute of character in a crowd of rubber soles. Founded in 2001, JB Classics is different. Since 2004, Jason Bass and M-Dot have been crafting designs for quality materials that smell rich and the end result of their efforts are shoes that offer an experience to their purchaser.
“The more we explore outside of our element the better, it just keeps it fresh!”
Format: Recently, communist China has attracted a lot of negative press for its exports: poisonous pet food, tainted seafood and lead paint on children’s toys. If relations between America and China were to halt, how would your industry recover from its severed connection to cost-effective manufacturing?
Mdot: The key is strong factory relationships, good negotiation skills and keeping your brand attractive! You can produce footwear in many other avenues around the world.
Jason: Like M said, many of the factoriesâ€™ owners are rooted and connected throughout Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, India and etcetera. The transition would be a pain in the ass for all, however, these owners are used to transitioning to meet costing, this why they are in China to begin with. So Iâ€™m sure the avenues would readjust very quickly.
Format: Bootlegging in streetwear is an increasing problem and has always been a problem for the footwear industry. How does JB Classics protect itself from bootlegging and counterfeiting?
Mdot: Who are we kidding, bootleggers can not be stopped. Yet, whatâ€™s so important is to have a strong factory relationship and always listen to your gut feelings! Thatâ€™s truly half the battle in any business!
Jason: We build from the inside out, but even so, the possibilities are always there. Iâ€™d
suggest locking your IPs down as tight as possible and focusing on the ball not the bat until youâ€™re able to finance a department to run field ops against bootleggers and Iâ€™m not even sure Iâ€™d even invest in this angle.
Format: Celebrities increase and decrease the values of products they use. What celebrity would JB Classics not want its product to be associated with?
Mdot: Hmm, support is support in my eyes!
Jason: This is tough. There are so many untalented celebrities these days that expect to seek acceptance from a particular announce, because of what their stylist has prepped for them to pump. Iâ€™m opened to whatever happens, naturally, as long as the celebrity has some talent.
Format: New streetwear and footwear companies herd themselves to popular trade shows like MAGIC Trade Show. In your opinion, are trade shows effective as they once were?
Mdot: OK, this is how I see it! There are three types of trade shows: networking trade shows- everyone is just networking, exchanging business cards and there is product to fill in the dead air; order driven trade shows â€“ all about focused buyerâ€™s placing their orders and closing the chapter on that season; and then thereâ€™s MAGIC â€“ it is what it is!
Itâ€™s the most globally recognized trade show, even people not in the industry know about MAGIC! So basically, you have to know what youâ€™re getting out of the experience and where your focus is.
Jason: Iâ€™m not a fan of trade shows.
Format: In Election 2008, do you predict a female, an African-American or a Republican to be elected?
Mdot: Americans are just attracted to the fact that itâ€™s exciting to have a woman President to mask whatâ€™s truly going on â€“ to act as a distraction, of course. When it comes down to Election Day, the majority will freeze-up and vote for someone random and Republican male and, perhaps, white, too. Who are we kidding?
Jason: Itâ€™s all a complete joke, at this point. I sit back and enjoy Stephan Colbert Report and Jon Stewartâ€™s Daily Show for my facts.
Format: In August, JB Classics released its collaboration with Kid Robot and Tilt. When JB Classics has the opportunity to release a shoe in collaboration with a third party, what requirements does JB Classics look for in its collaborators?
Mdot: That weâ€™re on the same page. Really, we have to respect what you do and especially the ones with out-the-box thinking. The more we explore outside of our element the better, it just keeps it fresh!
Jason: The point of interest is key. Since day one, itâ€™s been about respect and relationships â€“ equaling a fresh outcome.
Format: If given the opportunity to produce collaboration with any designer or artist of JB Classics’ choice, who would you choose?
Mdot: Would love to collaborate with someone whoâ€™s taken a vision from nothing to a bizzzillion dollar industry like, Mr. Jake Burton, hands down! Not just a shoe project, something big!
Jason: Someone like Trump or Sir Richard Branson whose visions would definitely go well beyond the standards.
Format: Blisters are horrible. What shoes have given you out of control blisters?
Mdot: Not really.
Jason: Nothing to date.
Format: It is hard to imagine that a successful company like JB Classics is operated by two people. Although the benefits of more employees are obvious, more employees could throw off the JB Classics work chemistry. Is JB Classics hiring?
Mdot: The question is not, â€˜if we are hiring,â€™ yet â€˜who can hang,â€™ itâ€™s not a fucking cake ride over here! Thereâ€™s definitely a lot at stake running an independent footwear company!
Jason: This questions gets asked to us a lot, Like M said, itâ€™s very tricky, at the moment, to find the right people with the right enthusiasm, the work ethic involved is completely indescribable. Especially, when youâ€™re handling the entire scope, you have to be able to switch up your hats without us asking and you have to be passionate about what you bring to the table as an employee.
Format: Soulja boy raps, “I got me some Bathing Apes.” If JB Classics had a rapper pay tribute to its shoes, what rapper would JB Classics choose for its tribute song?
Mdot: Vanilla Ice. Word, heâ€™s back I hear!
Jason: Unsure. Iâ€™m open for whatever happens.
Format: Retailers that carry JB Classics’ products are as unique as a JB Classics shoe. What characteristics does JB Classics look for when choosing its retailers?
Mdot: This is our deal, we would rather place our products in shops that educate the consumer and bring the JB Classics essence than to be placed in a shop thatâ€™s too cool for school, and just puts our kicks on the wall and expect them to fly out the door. We are not a Nike, Adidas or Puma; we put a lot into our footwear and people should know what theyâ€™re buying into!
Jason: Our retail platform, when we first started, in 2001, was surrounded by the giants in the mega footwear monopoly and continues to be. However, since we are originators, you can only imagine the tensions we deal with on the daily. We have only had a few retailers straight fuck us over and for this we created a dead list. For those that support us, we do our best to provide them with whatever is needed to make the experience personable and effective.
Format: Does JB Classics consider its shoes to be part of the streetwear industry?
Mdot: We have an audience in many industries. All across the board: from streetwear to high-fashion, to just connecting with someone out there due to our graphic story involved with a particular model.
Jason: We have a wide scope of interest that surprises me daily.
Format: In a Format interview with Married to the Mob’s Leah, she says, in streetwear, males have feminine characteristics: trolling blogs, lining up outside retail stores and taking photos of clothing. How would you characterize these activities?
Mdot: No need to comment on that! Leah said it best! It was actually the best thing I heard in awhile when I read that interview!
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