A passion for sneakers brought this Malaysian to New York

  • Style
  • Saturday, 28 Aug 2021

afuraa Razak was chosen as a weartester, where she received a pair of sneakers from US contemporary artist Tom Sachs. Her experience was later incorporated into a month-long New York art show. Photo composite: Instagram/Safuraa Razak

Having a passion for sneakers can apparently take you places. For one particular Malaysian sneakerhead, it has brought her to New York – well, sort off.

Safuraa Razak (also known as just Aaput, from her Instagram handle) was chosen as a weartester for Tom Sachs. She received a pair of sneakers from the US contemporary artist, which she wore, then documented her experience in a journal.

This was later incorporated into a month-long New York art show.

“In my case, the shoes given to me was Mars Yards 2.5, under Nike Craft operated by Tom Sachs Studio,” Safuraa relates.

“While testing the shoes, Tom Sachs would give us weekly challenges revolving around his studio philosophies, some involved us wearing our shoes.”

Read more: A leg up for sneakers, as people are willing to pay premium prices for them

For those not familiar with the sneakers scene, a weartester is a person who is handed a pair of unreleased shoes to be worn and tested during a certain duration of time.

That person is required to keep a journal, take pictures during the journey and eventually return the shoes for data collection.

“It is a big deal as you are a part of history in creating such an amazing pair of shoes,” Safuraa notes.

“The previous Mars Yards is rare, considered as a ‘holy grail’ within the sneakers community. In addition, this directly involves Nike and the artist himself.”

According to her, the first phase of the programme had around 200 people from around the world. There were no Malaysians included. The second phase had a total of 84 weartesters, where she was the first and only Malaysian.

Sachs, having also built his name in the streetwear industry, is considered as an icon among sneakerheads. His weartester programme is as such, much sought after.

“You get to live and learn Tom Sachs Studio philosophies from the man himself. It’s like going back to school again, you get a super cool and rare uniform (the shoes) and your tutor is Yoda (Sachs),” Safuraa explains.

The 33-year-old Malaysian is an architect. Her video application for the weartester programme showed her typical day – from going on a site visit to working in her office, while wearing sneakers, of course.

Sadly, Safuraa could not make it to the art showcase (which ended last month) due to the pandemic. She was still waiting to take her second vaccine jab.

The gallery exhibition in Manhattan presented a collection of selected artworks by weartesters done in response to all the challenges given by the Tom Sachs Studio throughout the programme.

Safuraa does not see herself as much of a sneakerhead though. She says she just buys what she likes and has probably less than 50 shoes in total.

“I like to buy comfortable yet stylish shoes. And I skateboard, so I have a lot shoes revolving around that too. I travel a lot, so shoes have always been some kind of a souvenir for me.”

Read more: Streetwear is now fashion's new luxury, and Malaysia isn't left out of the scene

On it being a typically male- dominated hobby, she thinks women who are into sneakers are not given much attention. She also believes that they can find the scene less than friendly.

“For starters, quite a number of sneakers generally only come in large sizes. A lot of ladies have to result in buying kids sizes,” Safuraa comments.

“I know a massive sneakerhead, a girl, who wants to collect Jordans, but she is limited to certain colourways only, because of sizing.”

So, here’s hoping her contribution as a wearester can change perceptions and pave new ground.

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fashion , accessories , sneakers , weartester , Tom Sachs


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