There is no denying that the strength of sneaker culture today is at an all time high, and it is certainly driven by all the trends we see on social media and capture from our favorite brands and our athletes, celebrities and artists. high level. For the modern consumer, it’s natural to get carried away by it all, but for Ralph Suguitan – a Seattle-based designer – he never let the hype dictate why he fell in love with sneakers in the first place. It was the technology and innovation in basketball shoes that intrigued him, made him want to know more, and ultimately led him to his current career as a digital content creator that focuses on shoes.
Turning a passion into a profession is rarely an easy task, but Suguitan has gradually been able to achieve it through his whimsical style of creating unique sneaker content. On Instagram, he amassed a significant number of over 20,000 followers and made a name for himself in the sneaker community with his jaw-dropping photographs, eye-catching short videos and moodboard vintage.
Storytelling is ingrained in every piece of content he produces and serves as the foundation for all of his work. “I feel like storytelling is the starting point for all sneakers and why people should be in love with sneakers,” he told HYPEBEAST. Go through his IG feed and website and you’ll notice Suguitan has built himself a pretty impressive digital portfolio, but trust when we say he has a lot more stories to tell. HYPEBEAST spent an afternoon catching up with the Pacific Northwest creative to discuss his relationship with the Nike KD 4 “Easter”, what it was like to receive shoes from Jordan Brand for the first time and more.
“Technology is what first intrigued me before styles and aesthetics.
Who or what made you love sneakers?
When I was in college my older cousin would come in all the time and he would always research sneakers, whether it’s blogging or watching YouTubers talking about performance sneakers. It was my point of entry. I played basketball growing up and that’s when I really started to learn about basketball shoes, traction, air bubbles and why it felt good. basketball. Technology is what first intrigued me before styles and aesthetics. My older cousin always bought the new one [Nike] Hyperdunks and he had the adidas D Rose – which I was in love with when I first got interested in sneakers.
What was one of the first memorable pairs you got?
My cousin gave me a pair of Jordan Dub Zero and I loved it. I remember he told me the story of all the sneakers that were designed there and it blew me away. I wore them on the court for basketball and to school and thought those were the coolest things. I grew up in the Seattle suburbs, so I wasn’t necessarily surrounded by sneakers a lot. I remember my first two pairs of mirrors were the Air Jordan 7 “Cardinal” and the Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red”.
How would you describe Seattle’s sneaker culture now that you’re more in tune with the culture?
The community here is very strong. You can certainly tell yourself who’s in the sneakers here. No one here is shy of sneakers like I imagine what other cities would be. Everyone is super inviting, the community’s dope and even all the stores here share this strong love for sneakers.
Would you say Seattle’s sneaker community has a must-have silhouette?
Not really. It’s pretty mixed up here and you’ll always see a variety of sneakers. However, I will say that a lot of people here are turning to the technical shoes that have GORE-TEX due to the weather. Everyone here is forced to kick their kicks because of the rain, and when summer comes, that’s when they put out their new pairs. My drummer would probably be something like an Air Jordan 1 “Bred” and then I’ll save some nicer things for the summer. I still see people in New York kicking good all the time, you can’t really do that here in Seattle.
“My main goal is to create stories with my works, whether through photography or short videos that I make. I love to create concepts behind real sneakers.
How would you qualify at this time?
I would say an artist or a creative.
Guide me through your creative journey. When and why did it start?
It started in high school in my photography class where I fell in love with Photoshop, making things cool, cloning and taking photos. I tried to kill each project and my photography teacher actually displayed several of my projects in the windows around the school. My parents noticed this and ended up buying me my first Canon T3i SLR and I went to work with this camera and fell in love with taking pictures.
College came and although I loved photography I always put it on the back burner and went to computer school. As a typical Asian child, photography and art are not valued in my home, so I only took out my camera every now and then. But my college jobs really helped fuel the situation I’m in right now because I worked as a graphic designer on campus and worked in Champs selling sneakers. Since I was buying so many discount shoes from labor, I started to really pay attention to the store’s marketing tactics, the mannequin’s displays and thought I should just start taking pictures of the sneakers. that I was buying and from my friends and their sneakers, and that’s how sneaker photography started for me.
Was there a time during your trip that you felt you knew you were going in the right direction?
I would say when I was first seeded by Jordan Brand. Well done to Marco Negrete who worked at Jordan, he sent me the Russell Westbrook Air Jordan 10s. No content was required from me, but I made sure to make it an opportunity so I took them down this cool staircase here in Seattle and made sure the content was awesome.
How would you describe your creative style?
I always want to make sure I’m having fun with what I’m doing. I like to make sure my content is fun and dynamic. My main goal is to create stories with my works, whether through photography or short videos that I make. I love to create concepts behind real sneakers.
Tell me a little more about your obsession with the performance aspect of shoes because I think it’s really rare.
I still love sneakers because I love what performance and innovation can bring. I actually have a funny story. So when I started putting on sneakers, my cousin informed me that the CP3 5 had the best herringbone traction, and I remember going to the mall in Finish Line wanting to buy a pair and asking the store clerk if he had any. He said they were sold out, but then proceeded to show me that the shoes on his feet – the Kobe 7 “Big Bang” – were still in stock. I said no to the Kobes because I just knew they weren’t the best performance kicks to buy at the time despite all the hype around them. I was focused on getting these CP3s.
What else do you remember about loving iconic basketball shoes during this time?
I thought the D-Rose line was fire because he had the adidas D Rose 1 and the adidas D Rose 1.5. Those were crazy days because apart from everything that came out of Nike Basketball guys like Josh Smith and Dwight Howard also had signature shoes and I remember wanting them all because I wanted to try them on.
Let’s move on to your unique companions favorite silhouette: the Nike KD 4 “Easter”. What touches you about this shoe?
It was the first signature sneaker that I remember buying with my own money. The KD 4 in general is probably in the top three basketball sneakers. I have worn this shoe so much. I remember rocking it for preseason in the spring and although it hurt so much in my foot because my pinky was rubbing against the side, I didn’t care because they were so cool.
Do you like this shoe for other reasons than the color scheme?
Colorways aside, I really like KD because he represents Seattle since we were the city that drafted him. Another reason I love the shoes is that this one was easily accessible and it fell during a time when I finally had the funds to buy them. This was back when KDs cost even less than $ 100. On a scale of 1 to 10, the performance of the latter is four however [laughs]. But the silhouette is so good with the strap.
Do you have any other KD 4s that you are trying to find at the moment?
I would say either the NERF collaboration or the “Weatherman”. I love the stories behind the sneakers and think the “Weatherman” is great because that’s what KD wanted to be if he wasn’t in the NBA. NERFs are also special because they came with a mini hoop to represent her childhood.
“I feel like stories are the reason people should care about sneakers. Every sneaker has a story to tell and every sneaker is designed for a purpose, so why not improve the story. For example, the Nike Dunk is a vintage basketball shoe, but not many people know that and I feel like it’s just a trend now.
Why are sneakers and the stories they contain important to you?
I feel like stories are the reason people should care about sneakers. Every sneaker has a story to tell and every sneaker is designed for a purpose, so why not improve the story. For example, the Nike Dunk is a vintage basketball shoe, but not many people know that and I feel like it’s just a trend now. But you have to know that this is what hoops and skaters wore at the time. People have a crush on certain types of sneakers and colors, but they don’t know why. I tend to give every sneaker a chance because I know it was made for a purpose and I know there is a designer who made it that way for a reason. It’s shoes like the Union x Air Jordan 4 that I really like because Chris Gibbs reworked the tongue because it got in the way of growing up. I like stuff like that.
Do you have any advice for all creatives who want to work in sneakers?
I would say go into retail first because you can see what the customer likes, understands, and looks forward to when buying a sneaker because not everything is not a matter of hype. Also, just keep practicing your craft and pretend your situation or big opportunity arises tomorrow and do your best to prepare for it. These are my two.