As the words ‘hypebeast’ and ‘sneakerhead’ creep into our ever-expanding vocabulary, it was only a matter of time before someone took it literally. Meet Nishant Fogaat, a designer who decided to do exactly that with his work by converting sneakers into trendy hats. “The whole idea stemmed from the label ‘Sneakerhead’ and pure humour. I wanted to use my design and apparel production skill set to try and develop a cap using ‘hyped’ shoes in a strong, visual way,” he explains.
The idea was further fuelled by his exposure to the world of ‘sneakerheads’ when he worked with Anand Ahuja, founder of ‘bhane.’ and co-founder of VegNonVeg, India’s first sneaker boutique, in 2012. “I strongly feel like Anand Ahuja deserves credit for the build-up of India’s sneaker culture. I still consider myself fortunate to have had a mentor like him. You were given full freedom to explore any and all designs,” he says about his time working under Ahuja. It was while he worked here that he began to innovate and develop new sustainable product designs. One of his previous designs even got him featured in various regional newspapers. However, it was only in 2016 when he was discussing the idea with a colleague when he truly began pushing for the idea of hats made out of old sneakers.
“Through my college days, I have always been highly influenced by Japanese fashion and their sustainable design practices. I wanted to create a sneaker Snapback which was ‘mottainai’ or ‘too good to waste’. If you think about it, the upper part of an old sneaker seldom wears off,” says the budding designer. It took him two months of failure, before he gathered the courage to chop up his own sneakers. However, it certainly paid off as till date, he claims to be the first creator to upcycle sneakers into ‘Sneaker Snapbacks’. The response for the same has been overwhelming from people around the world; garnering appreciation from several sneaker communities. Nike India even offered him a platform at their first Kicks Lounge in India, where they exhibited his creations and even offered him the opportunity to exhibit a Sneaker Snapback made out of one of their latest shoes.
While cutting up sneakers worth a ton of money without sponsors would have dissuaded most people, Nishant’s mother never restrained him (although she was extremely upset at the time), and respected his hat art. In fact, it even led to the question, why specifically hats? To this, he reponded, “For me, sneakers have been a great source of innovation and a reflection of personal style. Over the years, we’ve seen this very innovation simply grow, in terms of the materials used. Yet, over time, hats remained ignored—why would these brands continue to use the same old boring fabric?” Thus, he began to incorporate the same revolutionary sneakers into a line of his own.
So far, he’s designed and developed about ten Sneaker Snapbacks, and is working towards creating sneaker toys as well. He exhibits these designs on a separate Instagram handle and has garnered attention from various industry icons like adidas Parley Global, Mita Sneakers, Atmos Tokyo, etc. For those interested in scoring some of their own Sneaker Snapbacks, you better keep a few pairs aside—depending on your design, one hat could take up to three pairs of sneakers. Beyond that, the standard fees range from INR 10,000 to INR 15,000 excluding shipping charges.
All the images in this article have been used with permission from Fogaat.
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