We talk to Johan De Jager of Hip Kicks about his passion for sneakers and taking photos of them.

DYD: Why did you start the sneaker photography movement in South Africa?
Johan: You see great sneakers walking around all over Gauteng and most people don’t even notice how amazing sneakers actually are. I think that they are a way of expressing oneself in a different wave. I am trying to showcase how great sneakers actually are.

DYD: What does being a ‘Sneakerhead’ mean to you?
Johan: Being obsessed with sneakers. The collecting, trading and sharing of them. To me, being a sneakerhead means living out my passion for sneakers.

DYD: Do you think the market for sneakers is growing and why do you think this is the case?
Johan: Of course, it’s not only all the different names competing with one another and trying to create the perfect sneaker, but it’s also the individuals who are collecting all these great shoes. The release of any latest type of sneaker always creates hype amongst different brands.

DYD: Do you think there will ever be an African brand of sneakers that will become world renowned?
Johan: I do believe so. There is a huge market of South Africans that are very passionate about their kicks and there are a lot of great creative individuals that could make it happen. A few South African brands have made a name for themselves internationally, so why not do the same with sneakers? I would love to be there to see it happen.

DYD: What inspired Hip Kicks?
Johan: I have always had a great passion for sneakers, so needless to say, I have always been on the lookout for great sneakers. Recently there has been a huge growth in the market of sneakers and sportswear, I find this quite exciting. I decided to find a means to showcase and promote this ‘growth’ to the public and other enthusiasts by combining photography, another one of my passions, with my love for sneakers, and so, Hip Kicks was born.

DYD: Where do you see Hip Kicks going?
Johan: I would like everyone to get familiar with the term Hip Kicks by letting them know what it’s all about. It is about the individual wearing the sneaker as well as the actual shoe. The ultimate goal would be building a big following on social media and creating a well-known name, and then taking it internationally to showcase the sneakers, and sneaker collectors from all over the world. There are so many rare sneakers that have to be discovered and shared. There is a great market for sneakers, showcasing them via social media is only the start of my journey.

DYD: When did you start photographing sneakers?
Johan: I have been fooling around on my iPhone since the beginning of this year. When I saw someone on the street with  “hip” kicks, I would ask them if I could quickly take a photo. It was only until about a month ago that I had switched to DSLR. This means that there is more planning going into every shoot, getting everyone with sneaker collections involved is part of it. I think people appreciate greater quality photos.

DYD: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Hip Kicks?
Johan: Sneakers are not just shoes, they are a lifestyle. Hip Kicks is exploring the “Sneaker Culture” in South Africa and will always be on the lookout for awesome kicks. I have always loved shoes and Hip Kicks is the beginning of greater things.