Radio DJ, brand consultant and most notably, a sneaker connoisseur, Kish Kash is, by all means, a lover of sneakers and a wizard of the culture behind streetwear.
A love affair that began as a child has spawned into Kish owning thousands of pairs – from vintage Nike Footscapes to the most recent OFF-WHITE x Nike collaborative pairs, yet to release Adidas and a number of coveted creps.
“I was around ten, when you step up your awareness of your surroundings – fashion just happened,” says Kish. “When you’re at school, one of the places you get your clothes from was the market, that’s where you got your Sta Press [vintage trousers predominant in the 60s, 70s] and your Waffle trousers, and Farrah’s as well, although I never had a pair of Farrah’s. I never liked the cut of the trousers.”
“Yo, I had these first,” and if you had these first then that was it, that was off. The next person had to find their own thing…”
Growing up, style and the culture of streetwear had “always been social but still super-niche. It was attached to music, it was attached to the look, it was attached to functionality as well as fashion, it all stems from, for me, football and having a kickabout, as well the hip-hop culture – the music and being involved in that,” says Kish.
Back in the 90s, “When it came to “Don’t bite my style,” where this whole individualistic expression stemmed from, it was like, “Yo, I had these first,” and if you had these first then that was it, that was off [limits]. The next person had to find their own thing and bring it to that level as well.”
Kish argues that kids today “think that they’ve got all this stuff on and that means they’re cool… it’s not defined by what you wear, it’s defined by your attitude and how you wear it and what you do and how you interact. Or, don’t interact and lay back in the cut. It’s far more complex,” says Kish.
By the 90s, Kish was wearing the likes of “Stüssy, before even Michael Kopelman brought it through with Gimme 5 – I was in Stüssy before that. With Supreme, I’ve been wearing it for 20 years, and even though I was hip-hop, I never went fully down the hip-hop route of brands.”
Supreme, the most hyped streetwear brand of our generation, causes controversy in the streetwear community. As Kish puts it: “You might as well just get the Supreme lookbook and go, ‘Can I buy that whole outfit please?’. I see fit shots done by stores, and they’ll go, ‘I’ll have all of that.’ The idea [of lookbooks] is the inspiration for you to have something to grow upon, if you want to go down that way. When you look at that, that’s just an idea. Develop that idea, explore that idea.”
“I sold enough of Roc-A-Fella’s records, I helped break a lot of records in this country, I remember breaking Kanye West, or helping to, as an artist in this country. The Roc-A-Fella AF1’s are significant to me because I’m a music guy…”
He adds: “I was a kid, you have to be smart. These kids might be smart, but other people will just be following.”
As a kid, Kish was always on the hunt for clothing and kicks: “There were shoes I was trying to get, when I saw videos of breakers or rappers wearing the stuff that you couldn’t get over here, or I didn’t know where to get it from because I wasn’t from London but instead from Aylesbury, 45 miles out from London.
“I would have to come up to London on the train to scour and hunt for everything, you needed street smarts to find out things and build relationships, it’s completely different to how things are now,” says Kish.
“In the 90s, I’m going abroad, seeing stuff there and coming back with it, other people would want to know ‘where you got those’, and then you would find them [in more stores] over here. Other people would then get into it and it would be building and building and building.
“Then I started working in records stores in town, people were always checking what we were wearing on our feet,” says Kish.
Today, Kish Kash is a radio DJ for Soho Radio. However, in 1999, the year Jay-Z (under his Roc-A-Fella label) released his fourth album Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, Kish was working at a record shop – slowly but surely building upon his passion for music, sneakers and streetwear.
“That shoe is important to me, precisely for the fact I need those shoes because of the musical connection.”
“I was working at a record store and my dude from New York came in with them [Roc-A-Fella Air Force 1 White/White] years ago when they first came out to friends and family. He had a pair, but I couldn’t afford them at the time so I had to pass,” says Kish.
“I sold enough of Roc-A-Fella’s records, I helped break a lot of records in this country, I remember breaking Kanye West, or helping to, as an artist in this country. The Roc-A-Fella AF1’s are significant to me because I’m a music guy, this is the predominant thing and the sneaker thing is just an extension of my passion for music. You don’t need a lot of things, but I need those because it’s a big part of my history, and I have an affinity with it, for what the shoes are and symbolise, and what they symbolise as a period in my life.
“That shoe is important to me, precisely for the fact I need those shoes because of the musical connection,” adds Kish.
You can hear Kish co-host The All City Show on Soho Radio every Tuesday 8-10pm, where he mixes the best Hip Hop tracks – undoubtedly wearing some envious sneakers.
Follow Kish Kash on Instagram @kishkash1.