Vladimir Veselov: Sneaker culture in Russia is very young. Back in the USSR, it was only possible to buy sneakers on the so-called black market, as most foreign goods were only sold under the table to those who wanted to look hip and could afford them. In those times, sneakers were limited to very few people in Moscow and the other big cities, and sneaker culture was very underground.Around 10 years ago, most people here would choose more classic shoes, while sneakers were exclusively used for sport. Then came the new, modern chapter of sneaker culture, when new stores such as Frontline and Seven Boardshop started to appear around five years ago. These shops were some of the first retailers to stock Nike SB here in Russia, and it marked a key moment for sneaker culture becoming as widespread as it is now.
Today, we are witnessing everything evolving faster because of the internet, and we’ve seen the influence of the U.S., terrace culture, the graffiti scene and hip-hop in its modern stages also shaping local sneaker culture — just as everywhere else in the world.Pavel Kovalenko: Moscow and Saint Petersburg are the two most progressive cities when it comes to sneaker culture in Russia. Also, skate brands are becoming increasingly interested in this culture. In Russia, simultaneously with the rest of the world, people who are not connected with skateboarding want to wear skate shoes. For these kinds of kids, brands created special lines like Vans OTW and Vault by Vans, while DC and Etnies also have these kinds of products.Sergey Tanin: If you compare Russia, and particularly Moscow, to the USA, the main difference is the interest in terrace, tennis and running sneakers.
The interest in retro basketball sneakers is not as high in Russia. In the late ’90s, a big part of fashion, culture and music was influenced by lads who were into terrace culture. For example, FOTT was born from football subculture, and it stood for “fashion on the terraces.”How has Russian sneaker culture changed in recent years? Have sneakers become more in-demand despite the economic crisis?Some recent changes are signaling a healthy sneaker scene and a growing market. First, the local sneaker community is finally forming its own culture outside of subcultural associations. This year we had our first local Sneaker Con, we have local guys from the Sneakershot community here creating great content, and we have Maggi who makes cool customs.