Arts & Culture

Focus is on feet at ‘I Got Sole’ sneaker art show

After perusing the wide variety of custom sneakers available at the second annual “I Got Sole” sneaker show, you may never view your shoes the same way again.

At least that’s what event founder Nnanna Okpara is hoping.

A self-described shoe fanatic, Okpara is hoping to bring awareness to the burgeoning field of urban sneaker art.

“I have a love for the arts, and I have a love for sneakers,” Okpara said. “It’s a big subculture. When people hear there’s a sneaker art show in Wichita, Kansas, they say, ‘No way.’ ”

Yes, way.

The show is expected to feature 25 pairs of custom-made shoes up for silent auction, in addition to hundreds of pairs brought in for sale by local and regional vendors.

Okpara said that, to his knowledge, “I Got Sole” is the only sneaker art show in Kansas and Oklahoma.

And he should know.

Okpara said he travels extensively to sneaker shows to increase his appreciation of the artistry. Attending high school in the French republic of Benin, Okpara said sneakers were everything.

“It didn’t matter what you wore to school: If your sneakers were on point, you got the respect of a king,” Okpara said.

Since, he has grown to appreciate the culture that comes with sneaker art and hopes to spread it to those in the Wichita community.

NaQuela Pack of K-Push Entertainment, Okpara’s entertainment company, said sneaker art gives people a chance to express themselves through their choice of footwear.

“The appeal is having your creativity expressed on your shoe,” Pack said. “It’s much more personalized than wearing someone else’s ideas. It gives you a much deeper relationship with your shoes.”

If sneaker art is the new frontier for Wichita, then The BareFeat would be the Lewis and Clark of that frontier.

Based in Wichita, The BareFeat’s sole means of making profit is through custom shoe sales.

Part-owner Jered Wheeler said he has a background in painting but finds his passion in creating wearable art.

“You can take it anywhere, from the beach to the movie theater to the home,” Wheeler said. “It’s similar to getting a tattoo, except you can take it off afterward.”

If you bring a pair of Vans, Converse or Toms, The BareFeat will customize them to your request. Depending on how intricate the design, it can cost upwards of $50 to create your own custom kicks.

Wheeler and part-owner Austin Liebst each will bring two pairs of their customized shoes to the event. Order forms will be available to request a customization.

Once you’ve got the sneakers, you can complete your new look with clothing from various lines exhibiting at the event. Different clothing lines will display their new collections, including Skyview Apparel and Bad News Clothing.

Skyview Apparel, a local clothing line founded in January, has been building its fan base through social media, owner Zachary Seiwert said. He said his shirts are a product of his active imagination.

“Everything I put into Skyview is because of Wichita and the things I see,” Seiwert said. “Music inspires me. I’ll listen to a song over and over to get the meaning and then I’ll put that meaning on a shirt.”

Speaking of music, various live bands will be playing throughout the evening. The event will be emceed by Power 93.9 FM’s DJ Rolls Royce.

The event is affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club. Children in the program have the chance to receive tickets to the show, in addition to added perks like photos and prizes.

Okpara said he chose to include the children in his event instead of just donating a portion of the proceeds to the organization.

“We’re giving them the experience — getting to see the sneaker show,” Okpara said.