Born from the streets in London, inspired by real people and referring to real life - that is what London’s latest sneaker babe Nekedi is all about. “Our designs offer something new, at a price point that other brands in the same arena don’t offer. We feel like we are the authentic brand that people have been wanting”, explains Yannick Brown, the creative mind and owner of the sneaker brand that launched in 2016 at LCM. Soon after, the collection of unisex sneakers received a great reception and has grown in popularity, receiving a number of inquiries from retailers from Asia and the UK as well as a considerable amount of press. The price range is set between £180-250 and the sneaker can be bought online as well as in stores in Japan (sullen) and Korea (addicted) as of AW17 (July). Here, Yannick Brown gives more insights into his idea of creating footwear with the right street aspect.
When and why did you start Nekedi? Tell us about your idea, your background and motivation.
I started to work on the idea of NEKEDI the beginning of 2015 after the sale of a business venture I no longer felt I had an attachment to no more. Id always wanted to try a venture that I could incorporate all the things I grew passionate about over the years of being self employed, traveling, meeting new people, trying new foods and fashion.
I started to flirt around with the idea of creating footwear. A few years prior to this I was making the transition from regular trainers found on the high street to more unique premium trainers as well as recognising more niche clothing brands mainly from London, some different parts of Europe and Asia.
But I found when looking for niche footwear brands that complimented these clothing brands what I found was similar offerings in terms of shapes, generic outsoles and use of materials. Where I was just coming from in terms of what trainers I was used to was a very street aspect and outside of the Major Brands I couldn’t find another that filled this void for me.
What distinguished the label from others? Why do you think the world need another sneaker label?
Nekedi is my middle name, as a brand we distinguish ourselves from other brands by the way of designs and speaking for a particular type of people. Our imagery is not like a conventional brand taking typical (Instagram) images in the woods or in a studio, most our shots are real lifestyle shots and real people in real situations. Our designs offer something new, at a price point that other Brands is the same arena don’t offer we feel like we are the authentic brand that people have been wanting.
Tell us about your design process. How is it like? What inspires you?
The design process is something that is always ongoing, taking inspiration every day from what I see on and offline, I design from a feeling, I work from and retreat in my brain of all the different details from trainers I fell in love with as a kid.
What consumer do you have in mind for your designs?
My consumer is an everyday down to earth success or just a fuck up, it’s an outspoken deep thinker or someone still finding their voice or selves. But most of all they like shopping for brands that speak to and for them.
What material do you work with and why?
I like to work with materials such as leathers, suedes, padded mesh, as these represent to me what I saw being used in more sport casual trainers I still favour now. As well as trying new things with materials not usually found on a sport casual type shoe like sheep wool or velvet.
How many items does the collection contain of and what are the key items?
We like to pride ourselves on being unconventional and running the brand however we see fit to and have been posting images of many our models and colourways for well over a year before actually selling anything. Currently we have around 5 models of footwear but we are only concentrating on one, our signature model the Mandel, which is an innovative design creating a multi-functional sneaker with a removable sock to then wear the shoe as a sandal.
Where is the collection produced?
We produce the collection in china which has proved best for us they seem to have a real understanding of how to make footwear there, especially athletic footwear also they literally could make you anything if needed. We have just started a new but current concept using 3D printing so watch out for exclusive outsole units from Nekedi as well some cool accessories in the coming seasons.
How do you want to attract global customers? What's your marketing strategy?
We don’t have a marketing strategy as such more of a bunch of feelings we believe we want to express so if that be base a whole colourway on someone we are feeling the vibe of off Instagram then that’s something we’d do, or could be we think a clothing brand is really cool and do a bunch of trainer designs for their next runway. There’s ideas for pop-ups and outdoor installations as well as some other stuff. We like to work with what we see rather than a direct approach its more what comes naturally to us with what we see and just trusting the timing.
In what way will the Brexit affect your international business?
With the Brexit deal dawning upon us there is a lot of talk surrounding how it will affect trade internationally in the fashion industry etc at Nekedi we feel we are pretty young in the game and still learning the rules, we are just taking each day as it comes and if there’s a bunch of new rules about to hit us, so be it that’s what we have had to do anyway (jump through hoops) to even get here, it’s all self-taught so just like we’ve started is how we plan to continue, we will continue to develop organic relationships with our partners and work accordingly.