Ibn Jasper is a busy man. When I call him, he had just arrived in Los Angeles from Italy the night before. Jasper tells me that he’s due to spend every weekend in Italy for the rest of the year and that he just finished his work on Bill & Ted Face the Music, the long-awaited sequel starring Keanu Reeves.
“I used to work 12-hour days in the hood when I was in a barber shop,” he laughs. “So I didn’t do all of this to go back to working 12 hours a day.” Jasper, of course, is referring to the groundwork he’s laid as a barber to close friends Virgil Abloh, Kanye West, and Don C, alongside his hard work in the footwear industry, spending six years at Diamond Supply Co. before launching his own brand, Stratica International.
“I love skating, I’ve been skating since the ’80s,” he explains. “I look at skaters as fearless, and the art of skateboarding is progressive and creative.” But Jasper wasn’t seeing that same fearless creativity in the footwear industry. “It’s the complete opposite. I was always inspired by Natas Kaupas, Tommy Guerrero, and Mark Gonzales. I grew up watching people when there weren’t any boundaries to what skateboarding could be,” he says.
Stratica International was born out of that frustration, he tells me: “There were a lot of things that I wanted to do as a designer. I would come up with these ideas at the office, and it would always be like, ‘that’s going to be too hard,’ or ‘that’s going to cost too much money.’ Basically, the ideas were too good, so when the opportunity came to start a company, I had to do it.”
It’s clear that Jasper has given his brand a lot of thought and that the inspiration behind the products come from subcultures that are important to the designer. “I grew up in the ’80s, the golden age of everything,” he continues. “Skateboarding with the Bones Brigade. Rakim, Big Daddy Kane… hip-hop, Black Flag, and punk rock. For the first time, fashion, rock, art, and hip-hop were all coming together.”
Jasper likens his shoes to Mercedes-AMG. “You can get a Mercedes, right? And then you can get an AMG Mercedes. A race car [that] just looks like a nice car,” he explains. “That’s what I wanted to bring to the footwear game and especially vulcanized shoes. Because they’re always seen as beaters or throwaways. I wanted to take the tradition of cobblers and bespoke shoemakers and apply that to vulcanized shoes. What if we slowed the shoemaking process down and made it as intricate as possible? Took a luxury, artisan approach to it?”
Jasper is meticulous, not just in the way that he talks about his company and the inspirations behind starting it – even the name, Stratica, was very carefully chosen. It comes from the Latin “stratum,” from which the words “street” and the geologic and economic “strata” derive, which Jasper tells me represents the actual process of shoemaking, as well as the layers of skate and street culture.
“Stratica is taking the 100-year history of vulcanized shoes and making it better,” says Jasper, explaining that the shoes are high-performance and can be skated in, but are also made from luxury materials one wouldn’t find on a regular pair of Converse or Vans.
Though Jasper is focusing his brand’s efforts on the vulcanized market, he’s not allowing himself – or Stratica – to be boxed in: “I’m 100 percent skate, 100 percent street, and 100 percent fashion. Stratica shoes are red-carpet-ready, but the construction and durability is skate-park-ready. And the silhouette and the look is block ready,” Jasper says.
Much like the Musketeers’ “One for all, all for one” approach, Stratica International’s products aim to be something for everyone, while simultaneously being everything for one person.
Stratica International dropped its FW19 collection in November, which includes a number of new models. Shop it via the brand’s official webstore.