As I recently divulged, I have something of a hang-up about sneakers. So I turned to the best resource I know, Peter Poopat, owner of Common Projects, to find out more about the industry -- and have a pro weigh in on the burning question: Am I too old to wear them or not? I've known Peter since college at the Rhode Island School of Design. Formally an art director for Visionaire, he launched his line with creative consultant Flavio Girolami in 2004. Their shoes are definitely not your average sneaker: they are refined, stylish, and luxe.
Peter first realized that there was a void in the marketplace when he tried to replace a scuffed pair of old Adidas's, but couldn't find anything that looked as good as his timeworn pair. Flavio, living in Italy at the time, happened to ask Peter to collaborate on sneaker design right then -- and, after seeing the Italian factory's beautiful craftsmanship, Peter was in. He was stunned at the beauty of the shoes that had already been started, and added his own aesthetic before finalizing them.
The pair showed at men's fashion week that same year, and they've now expanded to bags and women's shoes. Most recently, they did a sunglass collaboration with Moscot -- which sold out immediately.
I still have Peter's first sneakers sitting in my closet. The beauty of the shoes is their hybrid nature -- not too casual but dressy enough that you can pair them with a suit or with jeans. (I have yet to rock mine with a suit, but that's a whole other story). With no bells or whistles, just the highest quality materials, these shoes are timeless and understated.
When asked about his inspiration, Peter explains that it evolves with his lifestyle. When he took up skateboarding again last year, he needed a skateboarding shoe -- and thus, a more casual shoe was born. He's also a self- described "consumer" and always aware of the market.
So, what was his response to my questions about sneaker wear? "It's not what you rock, it's how you rock it!" He's a fan mixing things up to keep a look fresh: for instance, pairing my suit with a dark leather sneaker or a even a high top. Always challenging yourself to evolve is important. So maybe I will pull those sneakers out of my closet and finally give them a try.