Sneakerhead By Design

Melissa Benchetrit is a budding graphic designer from our friendly northern neighbor, Canada. Originally from Vaughan, a locale north of Toronto, she moved to The Six five years ago, and studied graphic design at OCAD University, where she could combine her love for sneakers and graphic design. It was also in Toronto where she would be around a plethora of sneakers and the boutiques that sold them. “Being in Toronto, that’s where I was exposed to different stores and different sneakers around me,” she explains.

Mel started her foray into sneakers when she started working at Brooklyn Projects, which no longer stands in Toronto today. After a stint there, she took to Foot Locker, where she kept building up her shoe collection. But it wasn’t until she went to Adidas 2 years ago did things start to really take off for her. She explains that since her time in working at Adidas, her closet has been chock full of Adidas shoes and gear. “I was there when Boost started, like before it was even a thing,” she explains. “I have so many Boost shoes, it’s kinda scary, but as soon as those came out, that’s when I got more into the collection.” Her penchant for the fashion industry as well has been something that has helped her in her time there, assisting customers with finding shoes and gear that would look good on and for them, from teenagers to senior citizens. “You’ll have like an old couple come into the store, and I’ll recommend a Boost shoe to them because it’s so comfortable. They don’t even know what it is, but they’ll be like ‘this is so comfy!’,” she details.

But being at Adidas has yielded more benefits than just shoes and swagging people out. Mel gets access to special events and people, too. “PARTYNEXTDOOR came to an event one time. And of course, Adidas sponsors people, so they come in and get like $5000 worth of gear, and I get to help them. Even Majid Jordan’s stylist came in, and I helped him picked out stuff that he’s going to dress Majid Jordan in.” Of course, having worked at Adidas for that span of time, chances are her favorite sneaker would be an Adidas silhouette, and a dope one, at that. “My favorite shoes are the White Mountaineering NMDs. This is one that I really wanted. I love the collaboration with White Mountaineering, the technology, the little details, and the trail runners.” What’s also worth noting is that she gets to do design work for her team at the store. “My boss gives me a lot of opportunities to do design work,” she adds. “I do graphic design work for my team and Adidas, which helps get my work out there,” she states.

One thing working at Adidas has not given her, however, is the coveted Boost Ball. “I don’t even know where to get one,” she laughs.

Her love for shoes and design isn’t limited to the store, though. She actually created a blog 2 years ago around her sneaker collection, which then grew to even taking pictures of other people’s sneakers and engaging with them about shoes, as well. She notes, “From there is where I got into the graphic design side, and combined my love for design, and my love for sneakers, and put them both together.” The subjects of her work, who don’t always see their sneakers represented in a way outside of a normal smartphone photo, engage and react positively with her.

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One facet of the culture Mel isn’t a fan of, however, is the reselling industry. Speaking on SneakerCon that she recently attended, she described her dismay with resellers. “Everything was reselling for stupid amounts of prices. Shoes that would go for $200 were going for like a grand. I didn’t care for buying anything, I just wanted to talk to people,” Mel says. She even goes into detail about how she often sees resellers coming in to her store and buying out shoes. “In my store, I feel bad, because resellers will come in and buy the shoe. I can tell which ones actually want it for what it is, and I want to give them the shoe, because I know they want it to wear, and not to resell. It’s hard, because you can’t tell them no, and it’s just kind of annoying.”

And for anyone curious, there are Canadian hypebeasts. While they won’t always make it on her blog, she still takes time to snap photos and have a conversation with them, if they’re willing. But she’ll generally engage and interact with those who have a genuine love for the sneaker. “Being in Toronto, I always see the sneakerhead community around in the streets, and there are a lot of people who are hypebeasts, who wear like Bape and Supreme; they all just want what’s hype in the market, but the people who actually wear the shoes for what they are, those are the ones who I talk to and put on my account.”

Outside of Adidas and her own blog, Mel is in talks of running the Instagram page for Ugly Dukling, a Canadian sneaker boutique. “They checked out my Instagram, and love that I actually make the sneakers pop, and I’m not just taking a regular photo of them on the ground. So, they reached out and hopefully they want me to run the page,” she explains. Mel also hopes to one day work for Adidas in a capacity for their design agency. “I love design, I love Adidas, and I don’t want to go away from the brand, so I want to keep doing something with it.” She also has plans on making her Instagram posts into actual posters.

Drake isn’t the only person putting his country on a new wave. In the world full of resellers and hypebeasts, Mel is pushing the culture forward by re-imagining how we see and design sneakers. If she takes pictures of your shoes, you can best believe she’ll turn those photos into works of art.

 

All pictures in this post belong to Mel. Catch her and her work on Instagram.

Written by J-Play

Founder and Creator of the Sneaker Literacy Program. I am a software developer with a deep love for sneakers and tech. Clean Your Shoes is my mark in both cultures. Connect with me on Instagram at @the.jplay.

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