Highsnobiety

Consultant, producer, and all-around Instagram flex god Upscale Vandal stops by this episode of The Dropcast just in time to spread some post-Christmas cheer. If you’re not up on on his Instagram account yet, consider this your opportunity to soak up some game.

The conversation gets spicy when they begin to talk about Jordans and the state of sneaker culture. Vandal thinks the Dior x Jordans were a missed opportunity to elevate some of the Jumpman’s lesser known silhouettes. (8:05)

Upscale Vandal: Shout to Thibo. Shout to the whole Dior team. They’re killing it. I was one of the early pioneers and champions. I debuted the Olympic color B52s. They helped me do that. I was early on the bikes. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do. They killed the Jordan 1, but like really? Another Jordan 1? We’re going back to the well for 30 years?

Noah Thomas: Right.

UV: Don’t get me wrong, he’s the greatest. He has all the legacy. But when you start getting to the storylines that are forced like, Oh we’re releasing an all towel one because after game nine playoffs, he was breading, sweating so much and he used a towel. So it’s the towel pack. I was like, bro, I’m done.

NT: What else is Jordan going to do? Do you want the new silhouettes? Are you rocking Futures?

UV: Yeah but here’s the thing. Shout out to Frank Cooker, who to me, gave the company a resurgence with putting the same attention to detail and storyline from the Jordan DNA into non-numbered retros. And I respected that. He did that. And guess what? There’s mad shoes that I’ve got it fits off with on the ‘gram that were team Jordans. And guess what? That’s the culture of sneakers that I came up with.

They were supposed to continue on the legacy in 30 and 31, and yeah, the designs weren’t as fire, but they tell the story. But what happens is, they put that shoe out just to fill the quota and when that shit don’t knock, they put it on $60 a clearance at Foot Locker. But then the Jordan 1 gets a Dior collab. It’s like… no. Force Dior to do a fucking Russell Westbrook shoe. Listen if you are Dior, if you are Prada, if you are anything, rise to the occasion.

Jian DeLeon: I’m not gonna lie. I would fuck with a Dior Trunner a hundred percent.

UV: Exactly. The cactus Jack runner was the best one out of every shoe…It was a weird design. Why keep going back to the well? I get it. Everybody loves those shoes. Kids grow up every day. They want their first pair of 1s, but if I see another fucking original colorway retro bro, I’ll vomit.

JD: That’s my pet peeve. We did this whole thing about end of year pet peeves, and my thing is retreading retros. Between Prada x Adidas and Dior x Jordan, it’s just like…connoisseurs who expect shit from fashion, got into it because it’s aspirational, right?

UV: Yeah.

JD: Something like that has got to show us the future instead of just a mirror to the present.

UV: Exactly. And it has to innovate. If you’re going to get into the sportswear realm and get into the sneaker-head culture and speak to that culture, yeah you executed the one flawlessly. It’s the best collab I’ve seen in a long time. You released it, right? You did the right amount of pairs, you priced it correctly, you shot it correctly. Everything was done right, but I would have loved to have seen you impress me with the fifteens or a shoe no one’s fucking with.

Then among other things, Upscale Vandal talks about his latest collaboration with Puma Motorsport. It’s the follow-up to the campaign he released earlier this year, and the latest video he produced just dropped along with a campaign featuring some of reggaeton’s heaviest hitters (27:24).

UV: You guys know Reggaeton has taken over. It’s right up there streaming with any major artist. J Balvin was a number reviewed artist on YouTube for four months last year.

JD: Your close friend.

UV: That’s my brother man. J Balvin is the pioneer of this shit man. He took so many risks. Latin culture is very different than American culture. People don’t realize that we have to go through a lot more obstacles because of our… A lot of the people that listen to his music are in third-world countries. Artists have never been aesthetically aspirational because fashion didn’t come first and price, it was about the music. In our countries, people are not spending $400 on jeans.

JD: Speaking of jeans though…On your stories, you were in Columbia at Jay Balvin’s house.

UV: Yeah.

JD: One, how does Columbian hot chocolate taste with the cheese in it?

UV: It’s amazing.

JD: That seems like a holiday tradition.

UV: Please let me take you to Queens and try some of it.

JD: Two, how big is J Balvin’s closet?

UV: J. Balvin’s closet is the size of a whole crib. I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s insane. So it’s like his whole world is wabi-sabi. He has a hundred year old imported Japanese Bonsai tree. He has heated tile floors in the middle of the forest-

JD: Vibes.

UV: But this is the type of things that I’m saying. He broke the door down for people from our culture to have aesthetic goals. And he mirrors a lot of this stuff that we do in our culture, but that’s what it is, he’s globalizing it. So with this Motorsport campaign, we wanted to tap into reggaeton. And I went to Puerto Rico, I shot on location in Puerto Rico. I worked with the top five artists in the streets right now. Arcángel, Myke towers, Jhay Cortez, Micky Woods, Gigolo & La Exce, Kevo, Mariah… Bro, it’s insane. If this were translated to American artists, it’s like having DaBaby, Lil Baby, Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Future in one video.

JD: So you’re telling me you essentially made Reggaeton: Endgame?

UV: Pretty much, yeah. It’s definitely Avengers: Endgame-level reggaeton vibes, but it’s a mini movie. Joe Cavallini the GOAT, shot a six-minute film that represents the global motor sport culture. There’s cars, there’s music, there’s fly chicks, fly clothes. What more can you ask for, man?

Words by Jian DeLeon
Editorial Director

Jian DeLeon is the Editorial Director at Highsnobiety. He is based in New York.