7 Questions with Woody from Sneaker Freaker
For the past 15 years, Sneaker Freaker has been at the forefront of the global sneaker scene. As the first and only publication of its type in the world, Sneaker Freaker’s pivotal role in shaping street culture has been profound. Sneaker Freaker: The Ultimate Sneaker Book is an anthology of the cult title’s finest long-form features. With 650 luxuriously redesigned pages – including over 200 pages of content unique to the book – the insane historical detail and otaku-level minutiae is mind-boggling.
We wanted to find out more about the cult publication, and the nigh-encyclopedic The Ultimate Sneaker Book, so we thought we’d have a quick chat with Sneaker Freaker legend Simon ‘Woody’ Wood, the man who started it all back in 2002…
1) It’s been said that Sneaker Freaker magazine started as a ‘lark to score free sneakers’… how true is that? When you first started, did you think the magazine would be as successful as it is today?
Yeah, it is true that I wanted loads of free sneakers when I started. Over the years, I have been sent thousands of pairs, so my dream definitely came true! I’ve never had a business plan or a strategic path to follow, and I certainly never thought I would still be doing it 16 years later that’s for sure.
Sneaker Freaker is such an unlikely success story on so many levels that I find it’s best not to think about it in those terms. I just kept turning up and just doing it!
2) Can you tell us a bit about Sneaker Freaker: The Ultimate Sneaker Book: what to expect, what we should be looking out for?
The book’s structure is basically a look back at the last 100 years of sneaker history. From Chuck Taylor to Kanye – via Reebok Pump, ACG, Vision, Airwalk, Troop and the Air Max franchise among others – this is the most comprehensive footwear history lesson every assembled. About half is all-new content made for the book, the rest came from Sneaker Freaker magazine and a few publishing projects.
I went to the absolute redline to make this book perfect. I rewrote over 200,000 words of copy to bring the details up to speed. We bought and borrowed shoes and called in heaps of personal favours. Dan Purnell added hundreds of photos. Tim Daws did days of overtime to refine and finish the page layouts.
Not once did we look at the clock and think about compromising on any aspect of this book. This was definitely a love project.
3) Was the process of creating and publishing the book much different to producing the magazine, and if so, how?
If you break down each major feature into text, imagery and design, the process is the same for making the book and the magazine. But when you’re talking about perfecting 700 pages of detail-rich content, the mental demands are huge. I called this book ‘endurance publishing’, simply because the physical effort to finish it was intense. There were so many days when I felt like I had hit the wall, but I just had to get back into it and keep going. The end result is worth it obviously, but it took me quite a few months to decompress afterwards.
4) You must have many, many pairs of sneakers. If you had to give up every pair but five, which five pairs would you choose to keep?
- Nike Air Force 1 ‘Linen’
- New Balance 997 ‘OG grey’
- Sneaker Freaker x PUMA Blaze of Glory ‘Sharkbait’
- Adidas Futurecraft 4D ZX4000
- 24 Kilates x ASICS Gel Lyte III ’24 Kilates Express’
5) What’s at the top of your sneaker wishlist (is there a pair you don’t yet own?)?
You can never own too many sneakers, so there’s always a pair or ten that I don’t own yet. My Grail right now is the Air Max Plus in the OG Hyperblue. My vintage pair of the ‘Orange Tiger’ is DOA, so I’m well overdue for a fresh pair. Hook me up Foot Locker!
6) What sneaker collab would you most like to see happen?
Easy. All-white kangaroo leather Air Force 1 with a genuine snakeskin Swoosh and Sneaker Freaker logos riding high on the tongue. Perfection.
7) How long until we might expect the next Sneaker Freaker book?
We just finished a very cool book for New Balance about their 997 runner, and we’re about to start documenting the history of Saucony. Aside from that, we have started work on a follow-up to The Ultimate Sneaker Book, though it doesn’t have a completion date just yet.
It’s funny how print is supposedly dead but all we seem to do is make books!