Bored Ape Yacht Club x Sneaker Savant x Garrixon Studios x THIS SHOE DOES NOT EXIST
The shoes that only exist in our imagination.
The idea started with a phone call. A phone call I had with one of my really good friends who has an idealistic streak a bit more ambitious than my own. I remember it vividly occurring in my backyard.
I was telling him about this idea I had…this idea about somehow incorporating PFP NFTs into physical sneakers (PFP’s being ‘ProFile Pictures’ or whatever the hell it stands for but means the same thing)…and how I knew this dude on IG who had created his first sneaker for his clothing brand.
See, when I started to see a nice chunk of growth on Instagram this guy @voidequipment reached out to me and he wanted to just talk about sneakers and a lot of the ideas I was expressing on IG. From what I understood, he wasn’t all that into sneakers (not like me), but liked them in a different way: he had an interesting idea for a sneaker to help kickstart the launch his clothing brand, and being that this was the season of Jordan 1 ‘alternatives’…he wanted to throw his hat in the ring with a design. I’m sure he consulted with several friends and colleagues and all kinds of people, but for whatever reason he decided to include me during the ‘sample’ phase (which was flattering), showing me a whole bunch of different colorways and ideas and sharing feedback before ultimately deciding on the following: The Void Equipment ‘Voyager 1’:
Believe it or not - this was one of the first people to ever talk me through the process. I mean, I have hung out with Dee (of FBCC and SIA) and even had him visit my Business class in East Oakland, but most of that was more just hearing him tell his story. But to watch the process of an independent from start to finish was compelling.
Anyway, VOID’s shoe dropped right around the time that this NFT project called ‘Visitors of Imma Degen’ had caught my eye. ‘Imma Degen’ meaning ‘I’m a (crypto) degenerate’ (kind of an inside joke with crypto folks). But notice the name…‘Visitor’s of Imma Degen’…ie: ‘V.O.I.D.’
I had actually copped a few VOID NFTs before I even saw the VOID Equipment sneaker, and thought what the Imma Degens were doing was just cool. They created these really sci-fi looking PFPs and gave you the voxel files to use as avatars in any application you saw fit…I distinctly remember seeing someone use their VOID PFP to recreate a Michael Jackson video and just thought ‘damn, these guys are good.’ I also saw someone use their PFP in Grand Theft Auto and Zoom and thought - these guys are actually providing something of substance (as opposed to all of the other projects providing nothing whatsoever). So I bought a few.
OK…now that you have a background on the VOID project…here’s the idea: Being that there is a big stamp on the tongue tag that say ‘VOID’, I thought, ‘hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow turn these blank, white shoes into personalized VOID NFT merch?’
I was thinking it over when my friend called me so I told him about this idea and how I had already had one created, he said ‘instead of just doing a custom paint job, why don’t we create individual, personalized shoes from scratch?’ Me, being the ever-persistent overthinker, responded with: ‘that sounds really freakin’ hard. I’m just going to figure out the VOID thing and see if that goes anywhere.’ He assured me it wasn’t as hard as I thought…and we should continue talking about it. We agreed to take the VOID idea as far as it would go - individual paint jobs of existing shoes - but phase 2 should focus on the building of bespoke customs for other NFT holders…so that was in the back of my mind while getting those first VOID customs finished.
I hit up my dude @marrio_restores and went through the idea with him and he was all for it. So…we gave it a go… and it came out pretty damn good. But the problem was (again), the fact that I’m not all that good at marketing my products. Plus, I don’t think many VOID folks were all that interested in anything beyond their computer screens…so it turned into a one and done.
Fast forward a few days, and after getting several people interested in helping with phase 2, my primary goal was to find a manufacturer. Someone who could actually produce what it was we wanted in a timely manner, with the strict stipulation that we would be ordering unique 1 of 1’s according to whatever it was that the market demanded.
I contacted several companies from all over the world and pretty much each and everyone told me they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do what it was we were requesting. I asked everyone I knew what they thought and a few people pointed me here or there and nothing really seemed to take. I even tried to source materials myself (in order to hand-assemble these shoes), but nothing made all that much sense…Finally, I asked my buddy Joe from Kooth, who told me he might know someone that wouldn’t have any trouble doing what it was we wanted done; a company called ‘Garrixon’, based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I made the call.
My first call with them was around the beginning of August 2021, and I spoke with their main salesman, Joe Dickson, for about a half an hour explaining our project requirements. ‘1 of 1’s. 'Different shoes for different PFP holders’. ‘Dealers choice on certain materials’, ‘Bespoke’, ‘Knit runner on Vibram sole’. Joe told me he’d talk with the design team and get back to me in a few days to let me know if it was possible. I sent him a few examples of shoes I saw on their IG page that were close to what we were thinking: sublimated knit uppers on a standard Vibram sole.
This was our initial sketch and idea - unique one of ones for each individual ape:
Within a week, Joe had responded with ‘yes, we can do all of that.’ And he told me that immediately after getting off the phone with me the other day, he googled my name and found this article, in which I was quoted talking about the cross-section of NFTs and sneakers and how he wanted to be sure Garrixon would be able to help in that regard…
Within two weeks, we had our introductory phone call with the design team and we began piecing together what it was we were trying to accomplish.
I got an invoice for $3k the following week with a promise that our sample would be done within 6-8 weeks. I paid it within 12 hours and soonafter we had our kickoff call with the design team…me, my buddy, and 3 from their team. They asked for a slight change to the design - not a big deal - they weren’t very confident in their sublimation detailing…so we adjusted our expectations and gave them a mosaic look to work with:
And we suggested a GR version (for non-ape holders):
We were stoked.
So stoked, in fact, that everything looked to be on the up. And, against my better judgment, I broke MY cardinal rule on IG - I started talking about something I was working on before I actually had it in hand… I started talking like we were going to be the first with a Bored Ape sneaker and was so confident that I actually called some people out!
My justification, at the time, was something like this:
I thought it would make me keep my word no matter what
I needed to start building some momentum if we were to plan on selling any
I really thought we had something coming…
Days went by, then weeks. I asked Joe where we were and he said something about minimum order quantities not being feasible. I told him we’d discuss it internally and we shouldn’t worry about it until the time comes. All we actually needed from him and his team at Garrixon was a sample. He agreed and we went back to our respective corners. A week or so later, I heard more about minimum quantities from the design team…and having thought about it for a week, I was frustrated…I chose my words carefully and said exactly this:
…we took a step back and realized we don't have any orders and we're not even sure if we're going to get any. It's good to plan for them so we know what we have to do if we do get orders - but I think we decided it's important for us to just focus on the task at hand, which would be building the best-looking prototypes/samples that we can...let's not worry too much about all of the orders or MOQ's we might get until we get there... depending on the mudguard/vamp area, this might turn out to be a non-issue if the numbers we'd like to achieve are actually reached.
Again, Joe agreed, and we went to our respective corners. I didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks - I assumed they were knee-deep in the sampling process - so it was a bit of a shock to me when I reached out and they told me they were having some more issues with the design. I dialed in WHILE driving over the Golden Gate bridge and kept hearing that we needed to make changes…again…to our design. No more one of ones, just one model with one of one patches. Kind of stupid, but we already paid. So. We landed here:
Not all that amazing, and certainly the ‘wow’ factor wasn’t exactly there, but it still looked dope and we were excited to get it in person. Still stoked, but getting a bit apprehensive.
Now, I don’t consider myself an impatient person. Actually, I consider myself the opposite. I’m usually very patient to the point of it being a flaw. Usually, if someone doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do in the time that they say they’re going to do it, I almost ALWAYS just give them the benefit of a doubt (to illustrate this point - I have been waiting 5+ years for a consignment shop to pay me on shoes sold).
With Garrixon, I asked for videos or even just pictures of the process. I assumed we would be getting updates. I assumed there would have been some kind of communication about issues that were popping up. But I didn’t get any of those. It was just…silence.
Whatever. So Sons of Black Maria & I start putting together promotional materials for the shoe. I worked with a guy in Khazakstan on a 3D image of the shoe. I worked with another guy in Spain to tighten it up. I worked with Sons on creating 3D NFTs of each shoe we plan on gifting to holders once this whole thing gets worked out.
I see Tyrese Haliburton gets his bored ape painted on a shoe and debuts it on court and everyone and their mother sends me the image. It’s nowhere near as dope as what we had in mind. So at this point I’m frustrated and call Joe - ‘hey Joe, I thought we had first-mover advantage (ie: the first people to put out a Bored Ape sneaker), but it turns out we are now behind. Where are we? Can we get an ETA? Joe didn’t have much to tell me other than he was just waiting for the designers to get it done. I voiced my frustration, and he set up a call between me and the CEO, this guy Steve.
So…I’m frustrated, but am also eagerly anticipating the call from Steve. And guess what? This dude doesn’t even call me! So I call him, about 15 minutes after I’m supposed to receive a call from him. And…instead of getting right into it, Steve begins asking me about ‘who’ I am and ‘what’ this call is about. I’m livid. But. Patience. I explain the situation and he says ‘hmm, can I call you back in about an hour?’ Sure. I don’t have anything better to do with my time than wait for you to call me back.
Having gotten his briefing (presumably from Joe), Steve calls me back in an hour and he begins telling me about how shoes are created and what goes into it and how difficult it is, and I finally say something along the lines of ‘yes, this was already explained to me, and I was promised a working sample within 6-8 weeks from payment and here we are 10 weeks and I still have not seen a single picture or video of what it is I was promised.’ Steve assures me that it’s on its way and it’ll get done. He says ‘give me another two weeks’.
At the same time - I’m having a discussion with Joe (from Kooth) who ALSO contracted Garrixon for some samples and is getting a similiar runaround: he feels he got lured in by their $3k sample price and when he was asked to put another $17k down for custom soles, he lost it.
I wait another two weeks and get nothing. I hear nothing. I hear nothing from anybody.
Finally, right around new years - it’s been 5 months we’ve been talking and 4 months since I paid them - I text Joe:
Within a couple of days I get an email from him asking if they finish up the sample within a week would we be ok with that? I said ‘sure, might as well’…what have I got to lose?
Surprisingly, I get an email from Joe within a few days showing me the images you see above…and…I dunno…it’s definitely not what I expected…but at least it was something. I figure we can work with it. He asks me if we’d be willing to ‘salvage the project’ if they’re able to finish the sample by the end of the week, and I realize I now have to choose my words very carefully…
So here’s a few highlights from the email I sent him:
“Our window of maximum opportunity has already passed, which is extremely unfortunate as we were looking to be the first in the space and it seems we would now be closer to fifth if we were able to close this out within the next 3 weeks. It's been more than 4 months since we were told we'd have a shoe within 6 to 8 weeks and if we had met that timeline, we'd be in a much better place than we are now. For this, I would say a partial refund - to keep the project going - would seem fair.”
That being said, if you are amenable to a partial refund we can agree to move forward, but certain conditions must be met:
* We would need an ongoing deliverables calendar until the sample is to what we agreed upon. You said one week, but looking at the pics and outstanding items (ie: correct colors, shape, patches and embroidery) - I believe it'd take a few weeks at the very least…
* At the end of this, we are also expecting a full tech pack - not just a re-rendering of our rendering. Measurements by size, specifically.
Also - just an FYI - I scrolled the email below and saw mention, again, of MOQ's and I feel I must reiterate what it is that we came to you for: we came to you for 1 of 1's. If we were interested in MOQ's we would have gone through a much cheaper option - I have Chinese suppliers emailing me daily that they can provide $100 samples and 100-pair MOQ's for $20/pair. That's not what we are interested in. Please keep in mind we have no intention of discussing MOQ's until the sample phase is over and we have some pre-orders. We are ONLY interested in 1 of 1 bespoke sneakers at this time.”
He never responded via email.
He texted me, though: “Team not able to meet the deadlines you outlined in your email so we will be issuing a refund check.”
I asked Joe if we could buy the unfinished work in order to bring it to a local cobbler to see if we could wrap it up and have *something*, no matter how trivial, to show for the 6 months we were involved…and they wouldn’t allow it.
And…so…another 5 weeks after requesting a refund, I finally get a check in the mail. Only…5 minutes after receiving it, I got a text from Joe: “can’t make this stuff up, they had already issued a second check and sent via certified mail and stopped payment on the first check so you should see the new check in a day or 2…”
Another week…the check finally arrives. So…a quick timeline of my experience with ‘dream factory’ @garrixonstudio
- August 2nd, 2021: I reach out to them for a 1 of 1 project
- September 3rd, 2021: I sign a service agreement and pay $3k THE SAME DAY for a sample sneaker to be finished within 6 to 8 weeks.
- January 3rd, 2022: With nothing delivered whatsoever, I ask for my money back.
- January 10th, 2022: they show me pics of an unfinished, unassembled sample to try to keep me on board. I agree to it as long as they can stick to some timing commitments. They reject my proposal.
- February 15, 2022: I get my money back.
The funny part is…the guy who initially told me about Garrixon went through pretty much the EXACT SAME experience as I did. During the same time period. And he told me he spoke to some folks who also go through Garrixon and there were at least 5 or 6 other companies that he knew of that went through the same experience…
I’m disappointed because when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. And in this particular case, I made my plans public and wasn’t able to deliver. So. I figure…maybe I can do something else…
Anyway…anyone want some Bored Ape sneaker cards?
Idk why i responded via email but this is a very intriguing story and shows what it takes to have a startup. I hope said company gets put out of business because you deserve better. Also I’d like some sneaker cards if you still have any.