The term godfather is almost always used incorrectly.  It’s a moniker too often given to people with the necessary history or influence to warrant such a title. We have no such issues with bestowing our next #CSARADAR influencer with the title godfather. Almost single-handedly Zaid Osman has raised the stakes for sneaker culture in South Africa and he plans to take what he has learned here at home and bring it to the rest of the continent. We caught up with the entrepreneur and social innovator to talk about kicks, culture and where to find the best ribs.
Words: Tshiamo Seape

The Wire: As pretty much the influencer in the sneaker world – how do you prefer to use that influence? 
Zaid: I became an influencer by mistake – it just happened. With that being said, I do want to use it to influence young kids in Africa, and give them the opportunity to see that anything is possible. At the same time, I’m still growing myself, and still trying to push what I’m trying to do.

So there’s a strong influence on the youth?
Definitely. Now that I’m more aware of the influence I have, it’s more about giving the younger generation opportunities, the same way people would have given me various opportunities along my journey.

You’re obviously quite a prodigious collector of sneakers, any other obsessions – if we came to your house right now, what would we find?
A lot of running medals! I’ve been running quite a bit the last three/four years with The Nine Four (Running Crew). We run all across the globe, which is really cool because it opens your eyes to so much more. This March I was in Berlin for the Berlin half Marathon. I did my personal best of two hours. I also try to read a bit – mostly autobiographies. I really want to learn from the people I look up to.

Kanye West for Adidas or Pharrell Williams for Adidas?
I would have to say Kanye, because of the changes that he’s already made at the brand. Design-wise I do like Pharrell, and I love a lot of the stuff he’s done in the past, but for Adidas I feel that Kanye is doing a lot more.

You’re obviously deeply immersed in sneaker culture, and by extension the various subcultures that feed into it. What aspects of sneaker culture are you dissatisfied with? 
Within any culture there are always going to be things that you like and dislike, but that’s what makes up the culture and makes it authentic. If everything is all jolly every day, then it’s not going to be fun. But, one thing that does get me are fakes. I don’t like fake sneakers. This is something that me and my partners always stress: you don’t need to wear fake sneakers. It’s about aspiring to get to the next level. If you can’t afford Kanye West’s Yeezy’s because they’re R6000, then you don’t need to buy them right now; you can aspire to get there. Everything in life happens at a certain time. If you’re meant to get those Yeezy’s you will get them.

Hot Wings or Ribs?
That’s very hard, actually. I think ribs, but it’s a very tricky question because normally they go hand in hand. There’s a new rib spot my side of the world called Smokey’s in Sybrand Park. They do barbeque ribs and it’s really dope.

The way I see it there are two kinds of sneaker head: The old school connoisseur, and the new school collectors who are more interested in the hype. What group do you fall into?
I think a bit of both, and any sneaker head who claims to be a die-hard fan of the 90’s or 80’s can’t deny that they have bought into hype. Looking at myself, I’ve always liked the hyped at sneakers, because it always makes you look cool, but recently I’ve been buying a lot of stuff that isn’t hyped up at all. A lot of people would say they’re doing the same, but you still find them buying only the latest sneakers. For me it was always about the hunt – going to factory outlets and second-hand stores…At the end of the day, I love sneakers and there isn’t only one brand that’s going to make me go out and buy sneakers.

You have your store, Lost Property, and you’re also the creator of the Sneaker Exchange. Which one of your two babies takes up most of your time?
The thing about Sneaker exchange and Lost Property is that they both take up a lot of time, but the cool thing about Sneaker Exchange is that it only happens five times a year. But, with that being said, when it’s Sneaker Exchange time the store basically turns into a production house. Whether its products or suppliers, we just focus on that (Sneaker Exchange).

Is there one pair of shoes that has gotten away from you?
The one pair I would look at, as the “Holy Grail”, would be a pair of Nike SB Pigeons – a collaboration with Nike and Jeff Staple. It was the first time people rioted for sneakers; it was big. That sneaker isn’t the one I want. The ones I want are called the Purple Pigeons, and came around about three years after.

What’s next?
Next for myself and the team is bridging the gap in Africa. What that means is that I want to see the Sneaker exchange brand expand into Africa. I want to see us doing an event in Kenya, then Zimbabwe, and all across the continent. There’s a lot of cool stuff planned. Last year we did a Sneaker Exchange activation in Kenya. With Lost Property I want to start working more closely with brands at what they are trying to achieve and hoe we can help them achieve that. For myself, as Zaid, it’s really just about inspiring kids and showing them that it is possible. I want to make Africa pop.

– See more at: https://csa.global/the-wire/zaid-osman#sthash.rejVLCF3.dpuf

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