Antonio Aguirre AKA Mr. Sole Slam is such a character. Be it for his collection that boasts of variety or his spontaneous posts that border on the humorous down to the frank and opinionated. One thing's for sure, we don't even need to mention his OTHER stuff going on like his stores or his internet show or his knack for courting controversy with just a single shoe related post... we're showing hopefully another side to Mr. Sole Slam, so read on...
Why Sole Slam? Was it a conscious decision to go forth into the business of sneakers?
The name Sole Slam Manila came about when I was looking for names for the event with my brother in law while we were in San Diego. He found an event called "Soul Slam" which was an annual rock concert event there. So we switched the name to Sole Slam to match it with sneakers. I've always had a love for sneakers ever since I was a kid, but not to the point that I would check out release dates on kicks every day on sneaker websites. It stated around 2010 when I bought my first pair of Retro Jordans, the Jordan 9 White/Black OG colorway though an online reseller on Sulit.com called JumpJun23. Then from a pair it became 20 pairs within 3 days. Then a friend of mine named Bodie added me to a newly created group called Sole Haven Sneakerheads Community, and the rest was history. It wasn't really my choice to go forth into the sneaker business. Most of my income come from our family businesses that we go about on a daily basis. Sneakers is still my hobby and at the same time, it is my passion really that drives me to this. If you asked me if sneakers is a profitable business, I would stop you right there and tell you to keep your day job. I would say about 15-20% of our income would come from anything Sole Slam related and the rest are from working and balancing a regular business.
Your fashion sense? How do you go about it? Do you have fashion icons who influence you?
The nice thing about my nature of business is that I can wear anything I want any day, whenever. I always wear for comfort first before style because I do a lot of going around and walking/driving for approx 8-10 hours a day. I always want to do something new and different every time to the point that I weird out my family at times, especially during family gatherings. Also, my sister Cristy is a big influence to me in terms of her high fashion sense being one of the best personal shoppers in the San Diego area. Whenever she talks fashion in a foreign language to me, I listen and try to translate the best way I can, LOL! So that's why I'm also inspired by high fashion and the combination of street wear at the same time. I guess if I only had 12 pairs of sneakers but a multitude of versatile clothing, I'd be just fine.
Your taste in music? Does it affect greatly your shoe and fashion choices?
I feel that music has a big influence on what I wear really. Artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and A$ap Rocky are some of the artists I follow a lot closely. Some are just too wild for me, but at the end of the day, it still boils down to comfort and versatility. Something I can wear at the mall, in a coffee shop meeting and straight to the gym afterwards before the night out with friends.
Coming from the Pawnshop business how has it helped you with your current line of business?
I think my attention to detail and the business side of it had the businessman inside of me moving together seamlessly. It also doesn't hurt that my wife Kristina is an excellent accountant and monitors everything closely. So yeah, she knows every shoe or clothing purchase I make for myself or for the business. Plus, my other brother in law Luis Carballo whom I look up to, for me is the best person to talk to in terms of putting up any business or closing any deals that I make. I always make sure to ask for his expert opinion on any big deal I make, with him being a very successful businessman himself. I make sure to surround myself with the best people around.
Being active in the social media circles, how would you attribute your popularity with it, what are the pros and cons with fans and haters?
I'm very engaged when it comes to my own followers. I try my best to respond to every question they ask me, whether it be advice on what to buy or wear, or just a simple question like "should I sell or keep this?". I think that's how I grew my following organically, though being reachable by anybody almost any time. I've had people approach me in public during my own free time, even while I'm eating with my family or friends just to talk for a few minutes or take a snapshot. It's hard to say no to some requests really. With regard to haters, whenever you are doing something that's really big, people will always try to bring you down. The're really the first one to capitalize on your mistakes or errors. People forget that while I'm a celebrity in this business, I'm also human. I used to get hurt with words thrown at me on social media, but I realized that it can only hurt me if I let them get into me. The best advice I got personally from a guy who has a ton more haters than me, Ben Baller, told me this while he was with me on a long ride going to a radio station "A true king never steps off his chariot to address people throwing tomatoes at him. He has soldiers to defend him.". And I believe that, because I have so much more followers that wish well for me than haters around who are just some empty cans who make a lot of noise. Truthfully, nobody has the balls to tell crap in front of my face. They usually talk behind a fake account. I've become stronger more and more as time went by, and I just brush them off all the time and go make more money to provide for my family. At the end of the day, you will always have your family and true friends to have your back.
We hear you also dabble in toys? Can you share with us how you connect toys with sneakers? I used to, but not really that hard core. I collect childhood toys mostly like Voltron, Voltes 5, Daimos and GI Joe toys. But those are just the things that I collect really. Didn't really enjoy collecting Vinyl toys also as I see them as dust collectors, plus I need more space at home to stack boxes of shoes, haha!
Tell us about your clothing lines and your shops too... and oh, yes your show too!
Any new developments you'd want to share? - I only have the Sole Slam clothing line which is available only on my SSM stores. We transitioned from purely sneaker related apparel to something more versatile that can be worn daily, sneakerhead or not. I have 2 stores right now, working on a 3rd and a 4th store. the 1st store in BF Paranaque will actually be moving to a spot near the old one inside Big Bert's Carwash in President's Ave. The one in QC is in Katipunan, right in front of Ateneo above Yellow Cab Pizza. The 2nd store is actually a franchise, 1st of many SSM franchise stores we plan to open around the Philippines. The Sole Slam Show on NMFtv.com was actually just a spur of the moment thing, and we did 1 test episode that was good enough to be a pilot episode, So we have a 4 season and 48 episode contract with them right now. I'm not a natural when it comes to hosting, but when I talk about my passion for sneakers, it all just becomes natural really, same for my business partner Ira Cordero. We both complement each other very well. We're like the guys from Gas Monkey, he's the creative genius, and I'm all about the bottomline business. I've got more things in the pipeline before the year ends, so it's going to be exciting really, especially after Sole Slam Manila 2014 on August 3 at the WORLD TRADE CENTER. It's a huge leap from humble beginnings for us to the biggest venue in the Philippines. So again, all sneakerhead eyes will be on us for sure.
Being young and successful, do you have any message of inspiration to the youth of today? Thanks for considering me still young at the age of 32, Haha! I didn't realize that I'd be having this much success and fame 12-15 years ago. I just wanted to finish college back then and work a steady 9-5 job plus a few side business there. I would always advice kids to stay in school, because your time to shine will come, so you'll have to become ready. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or fail or take risks, because it's what makes you who you are in the future. Most people are successful because they work as if they have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Be you and do you. Nobody will help you become successful, but yourself. Stay positive always and don't let anybody pull you down. Keep your dreams intact, but make sure to plan well to achieve your dreams because you can't dream and expect it to happen if you don't work smart. Lastly, forgive those that have hurt you, but never forget the lessons that it taught you.
Define A.Aguirre the Shoephoric?
I'm the versatile, fun loving business first type of guy who just wants his dose of fresh kicks!
Shoutouts? Stuff to promote?
Shoutout to all our #SoleSlamSquad fam out there using our tags on IG/T/FB! Follow us on FB.com/SoleSlamManila & FB.com/SoleSlamStore, @SoleSlamManila / @SoleSlamStore on Twitter and IG, plus my personal IG is @MrSoleSlam. Watch and subscribe to us on iTunes and on Youtube as well "The Sole Slam Show" on NMFtv. S/O also to Swap Watch, Clyde Premium Shoe Cleaner, Bengga App on iOS/Android, Razor Sports, Sole Academy, DXC, Clavel Magazine, Status Magazine, and SMART Communications.