Finnish Streetwear Pioneers - Shafik Kadi
For the past six years you’ve been working for Diamond Supply Co. and have been close with Nick Diamond on Diamond’s day-to-day operations around sales and marketing etc, How did you end up landing this position?
I used to travel to The US, and all over the world for work, but mostly LA cause most of the skate companies are based there, and thru a footwear company that started licensing Diamond footwear I met Nick and the Diamond team, and we became good friends even tho we had been talking on MySpace way before around 2006 ish.. they needed someone to do all their international business, and I had tons of contacts and relationships, and most importantly I felt like home with The Diamond family and they thought I was a good fit, so they hired me and I moved to LA.
What’s it like to work for one of the biggest skateboarding brands in the world?
Its crazy, I really enjoy it. We get to see so much crazy stuff and Im genuinely into my work, so it does not really feel like work. Ive also learned a lot, and had the pleasure to work with so many amazing people and companies in different fields.
Diamond Supply Co. has collaborated with a lot of different brands and artists – is there any specific project that stands out for you from the rest of them?
This year is our 20th anniversary and Its been like a dream to work on these projects. I love Diamond, but I also have personal interest in lot of other fields and brands and this year we have collaborated with lot of MY favorite brands like Coca-Cola, if you know me and Im a fan and a heavy consumer. We just released our Basquiat project, and we worked with my favorite museum in LA called the Broad, which was insane to me. Before that we did the Astro Boy collab which for me is something sorry to say but “out of this world” hahaha.. also coming out with a new footwear project at the end of the year, and its a great opportunity to also learn working with these billion dollar sports companies, so its exciting.
What’s your all-time favorite sneaker?
My all time favorite sneaker is the 94 Jordan 1 Chicago. I just found a new deadstock pair from Japan, and I could not believe it when I was opening the box, it had the original cards and everything, felt like I was opening a time capsule.
Can you tell us a sneaker related story from Finland?
My first experience for really lining up for a release was in 2009 when Turning Point (RIP, this was the shop where everyone went for their tall tees and durags) released the first Nike Air Yeezy in the “Blink” colorway in around May. I was the first one in line, and I was there 3-4AM. The next guy showed up around 6-7AM, and I was like fuck I came waaayy too early. I remember I really enjoyed the time in line with the 2nd dude we were just talking about shoes, and it was kinda crazy we were super into the same stuff but had never met before. I had booked a flight to Paris months and months before for the same morning randomly, so my gf at the time came around 9AM to line up for the last hour and I left to the airport and flew to Paris. My girl copped the shoes for me and I was so happy. Im a size 8 and the smallest size they had was a size 9, so I never ended up wearing the shoes, and just recently sold them for 2500$ in LA. It was a great experience lining up for the shoes looking back at it.
How do you manage everything that you are known for, from running marathons to traveling around the globe pretty often?
Maaan.. I have a very strict schedule for myself, and I follow it religiously. Also I dont sleep much... People make fun of me, that I do more things in a day than they do in a week. Im just an active person. Obviously I work everyday, but I try to balance myself with playing hockey once / twice a week, we have a skatepark at the office so we cruise around there, I do yoga which helps me with skating and hockey both. We have a good basketball squad going on right now once a week, and I try to run a few times a week just so I can eat what ever the fuck I want haha. Sunday mornings are my favorite time, its the only time LA really feels empty and there is no one on the streets (no traffic), so I usually go to the fleamarket looking for stuff. LA has such harsh light for photos day time so I tend to go on photo missions in random hours around sunrise or sunset.
Nowadays it’s rather easy to network with like-minded people through social media. How did you end up meeting the right people before social media was a thing?
Same way people found out about anything back in the day, you just knew whats the place to be if you were into something, you knew “oh that DJ is playing there on Saturdays”, and it was more organic you actually had to start talking to people and approach them versus just sliding into a dm. Im sure we all have been in a situation where you know someone from IG, maybe even spoke, but dont say shit when you see each other at an event.
It’s extremely hard for a streetwear brand to go mainstream without selling out. How do you think it’s possible?
Its only possible if you control your distribution and / or have a vertical business model. Its sad for the multi brand retail, but to remain cool, and create an extremely lucrative business you have to be going direct to consumer and keep your distribution tight, and / or balanced. Best examples of this currently is Supreme and Kith. Stussy is doing a good job of being in the “cool” shops, but selling at Urban Outfitters, and still running so many chapter stores not having to worry about minimums in production or opening more wholesale customers to support the infrastructure.
Skateboarding culture is more and more affiliated with haute couture culture – what are your thoughts on these two worlds merging with one another?
Its very interesting seeing these two worlds starting to merge, going to Rodeo these days its like going to Fairfax, lot of same people.. Now you can go to Louis Vuitton and buy trackpants for 1200$, its just like streetwear, now you can buy Supreme second hand even at the mall, so its more exclusive to buy stuff that not everyone can afford. These fashion houses HAVE to use skateboarding, artists, and all possible avenues to attract a new demographic of customers cause the old ladies with a lot of money who use to buy LV, are just getting older and they need new clientele. They are smart and planning for the future.
Alright, we want to bring it back to home. What’s your favorite food joint and clothing store in Finland?
I always try to eat at Farang when Im home, the food is amazing, and its so nice and quiet. My favorite place to go shopping is my own storage unit haha, I still have so much stuff there, and I always bring back a few things here and there with me. Last time I found myself a Kaws Hennessy bottle, and a Aesthetics skateboards tee, Jordan VI’s and the Stussy Cherry Nike SB’s.
We have seen you featured in Hypebeasts instagram etc. with your photography, what got you into photography?
As long as I remember I’ve had some sort of cameras, but what really got me into it was skateboarding and traveling cause we were always filming stuff. I never took actually skate photos, more just point n shoot stuff till just literally 3-4 years ago, but I’m really fascinated by architecture and all that comes from skating. Going to new countries and places, and just wanting to document your surroundings from my point of view. You just look at architecture and shapes differently when you grew up skating. Also when I was a kid me and my dad always had hella radio controlled toys from cars to helicopters etc, and when drones became a bit more commercialized that was like those two fun things from my childhood combined, a camera and a radio controlled helicopter, and Ive been carrying that shit with me pretty much everywhere I travel these days. I have a lot of fun with that thing.
Finally, you’ve conquered a lot of things in the streetwear world. What’s next for you?
Ive been working on my photography, it’s just a hobby, but its an interesting thing for me and I just released my first zine titled “OUT OF BOUNDS” and did a small temporary gallery for the photos, that was fun and I want to keep doing stuff like that. We have lot of fun projects lined up with Diamond in 2019, which will keep me very busy, but I want to keep traveling and working myself, trying to be the best me I can be.
Make sure to give Shafik a follow on Instagram.
And check out his website: https://shafikworldwide.com/