IDYSM: Hey Justin, you’re a multi-talented individual who seems to delight in creativity and contemporary culture…have I missed anything?
Justin: Haha. It’s a bit like that isn’t it?! It’s difficult to define what it is I actually do. I bet the next thing you’re going to ask me is to define exactly what Zen Garage is.
IDYSM: Are you psychic? Yes, Zen Garage. At first glance it looks like an outlet for revheads to delight in motoring culture, but when you dig deeper it represents a lot more than that. Tell us about it.
Justin: I’ve created various communities; design/art, cars/bikes, each time I’ve been obsessive compulsive about a new hobby a new community has been born. I could never be obsessive compulsive about all my hobbies at the one time so I soon started to feel guilty for running communities when I lacked passion for them.
Zen is a way for me to combine all my passions into the one project. It’s like I’m a curator, and when I wake up every day I get to promote (through Zen) whatever it is I’m into right now. Having said that, over the past 2 years Zen has become a lot more than just this. It’s become a retail store, an events space, a commitment, a brand, a great group of friends, a community and above all (without sounding too cheesy), a lifestyle.
Justin: At the moment we’re keeping it personal (Zen is run by 3 people. Myself, Sergio Capozzi and Robert Green). Personally I have a background in graphic/web/interactive design and my criteria (for content which I want to push out through Zen) is stuff that inspires me to just stop what I’m doing and take a minute to just appreciate; whether it’s a photo, illustration, artwork, tune or video.
IDYSM: Sneaker Culture is a big part of the circle of areas you delight in, how big a part, and why?
Justin: In 2001 I bought a beautiful bound book (I was into collecting design books at the time) titled “Sneakers: Size isn’t everything” which was the first ever sneaker book (look it up, it’s supported a documentary film about sneaker culture under the same title). I’ve been more into the visual representation of sneaker culture and general fascination of the culture and the people who celebrate it, than celebrating the culture itself by wearing and/or collecting sneakers.
IDYSM: You are involved with The Kickz Stand, a sneaker-loving group in Sydney. Tell us about the group, and what type of sneaker scene it represents?
Justin: A good mate of mine Andy, who I know well through common passions over the years (cars and bikes!) runs it with a few of his good mates. I’ve since met more members of the group and they’re a cool bunch of guys who obviously all share the same passion for collecting sneakers. We’re hosting a Kickz Stand Sneaker Swap meet at Zen Garage on the 23rd (Jordan!) of this month. We’ll have trade stands, a Zen Babe sneaker photoshoot, a DJ, Chili Dogs and cold drinks so be sure to drop in if you’re keen! Check out our events page here.
IDYSM: What’s your take on the sneaker scene in Australia, and in Sydney?
Justin: What sneaker scene?! But seriously, I’ve heard of Melbourne having a cool sneaker scene, which doesn’t surprise me as every lane way in Melbourne is dripping with culture. In Sydney I’ve only heard of The Kickz Stand guys and I’m hoping they really get out there as collecting sneakers is obviously a valid hobby.
IDYSM: What excites you more; retro sneaker style, or the present day?
Justin: I love your old stuff better than your new stuff. 100% retro style (in general with cars, bikes, you name it), but I’m really digging the present take on retro. Modern classics and fresh colour combos, especially collab versions.
IDYSM: Of all the areas you celebrate, in what way do you think sneakers have an over-riding power to bring people together?
Justin: Sneaker culture’s got a lot to do with expression of style as well as knowledge. Individuals in the scene choose to place value (sometimes lots!) on certain models and wearing/blogging/sharing/swapping/selling rarer models results in finding other like minded individuals who share the same passion. One great thing with popular culture in general, is that the chances are high that sneaker guys also share other hobbies be it cars, BMX, hip hop, etc.
IDYSM: OK Justin, so the moment of truth as all questions lead to this; what’s on your feet right now?
Justin: Wish I could say I’m wearing something rare, but I’m just wearing a trusty pair of black leather Chuck Taylor All Star Light Lo’s, thin soles, great for driving in, you know?!