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Nick Diamond was around Barcelona for the release of his new collaboration with PUMA, the Diamond Supply Co. Avid evoKNIT (Foot Locker exclusive). We got a chance to talk with him about sneakers, skate, Barcelona and Odd Future. Catch the result below.
Barcelona is somehow the LA of Europe: you have the sun, you have the sea, you have the vibrant skate scene. Maybe because of that, you opened your European HQ here last year. Why did you choose Barcelona? What do you think of the city?
I love Barcelona. I’ve been coming here for eighteen years now. I started coming here just for skateboarding, because it’s like a paradise, the architecture looks as if it was made for skating. When you cruise around, it feels like you are in a huge skatepark. I think that’s what gravitates a lot of skaters to come here from all over the world. It just felt right to place our European office in Barcelona. Skateboarding-wise.
“The streetwear thing just kind of happened. We were not looking for the streetwear kids originally, but, after 2005, when we made the Nike SB Dunk (the Tiffany’s), we were catapulted to the people that didn’t skate.”
Let’s talk about skateboarding for a bit. You’ve turned a ‘nuts and bolts’ skate supply company into a streetwear supernova. Was that voluntary? Does it get hard sometimes to stay true to your skate roots in the Instagram era?
It’s very different to the times we started, all this social media stuff didn’t exist twenty years ago. Building a brand was really about grassroots: advertising in Thrasher, in TransWorld, going to contests, to skate demos…That was the only way to get our name out there. Now it’s 2018, but staying true to skateboarding is just part of what we do. We still sponsor tons of skaters, we give professional signature hardgoods to our guys, we have a footwear team…We really believe in supporting skateboarding, so we let the guys do the marketing for us. Back in the days, we were distributing our clothes to streetwear stores as well as to skate shops, but the streetwear thing just kind of happened. We were not looking for the streetwear kids originally, but, after 2005, when we made the Nike SB Dunk, we were catapulted to the people that didn’t skate. From there, we just became a staple in both worlds, really.
Diamond Supply Co. has also been very involved with rap. You’ve collaborated with Travis Scott, with Curren$y, with Wiz Khalifa…How important is rap for Diamond?
It was very important. When we released the Tiffany Dunks and the streetwear world caught on, skateboarding was being given a lot of media attention. I feel like a lot of people in music were gravitating towards skateboarding clothes, because the whole urban clothing of the past, the FUBUs…the Sean Johns…Were not really cool anymore. Diamond was one of those brands out there that had an urban connection. We were skate, but we were from the streets and we were into hip-hop. It was only right: rappers started gravitating towards it and I started connecting with them. I became really good friends with Curren$y through skateboarding, because he was friends with Terry Kennedy, who was a pro skater for Diamond at the time. Curren$y was friends with Wiz, so he turned him onto Diamond, and then I finally met Wiz at one of his shows. He wasn’t big back then, this is before ‘Black & Yellow’. I remember he was wearing a Diamond hoodie he told me he had bought the same day at a store in Texas. I started collaborating with him, and so as he blew up, he was wearing Diamond. Rick Ross, too. When he was becoming popular, he was always rocking Diamond. The brand came up at the same time as a whole generation of rappers.
“Tyler used to work in our store, just packing boxes in the back and stuff like that. And meanwhile all the other Odd Future kids were hanging around, and I didn’t even know they rap.”
The Odd Future kids even hung around your store in Fairfax before opening a store in Fairfax themselves, right?
Yeah, Tyler used to work in our store, just packing boxes in the back and stuff like that. And meanwhile all the other Odd Future kids were hanging around, and I didn’t even know they rap. They were just kids, they’ve been around, I’ve known them all since they were really little. I remember one day somebody was telling me: “Odd Future got this write up in a magazine as one of the top emerging rap groups”. I was like “What’s Odd Future?”. “Tyler and his group!”. I didn’t even know they rap. It was really funny if you look at it now.
What have you been listening to lately?
Man, I’m an old hip-hop dude. I still listen to the classics all the time. New stuff? I listen to it, but I don’t quite like buying new music, it just doesn’t feel the same to me. I hear everything, though. I hear everything A$AP drops, I hear everything Tyler drops…And I have a lot of shit on my phone, I’m not gonna lie. But at the end of the day, when I’m listening to music, I’m playing Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang…That’s my thing.
“Then came the Jordans. But I didn’t collect Jordans at first, I had Jordans. I used to skate in Jordan 1s all the time way back in the late eighties. I didn’t start collecting them until the patent leather XIs came out.”
Do you define yourself as a sneakerhead? How has sneaker culture shaped Diamond?
It’s everything, I guess it’s my life. I grew up with sneakers and I’ve been collecting them since as far back as I can remember. At first, I collected PUMA, PUMA Clydes. That was the reason why I really wanted to do the Puma collaboration. Then came the Jordans. But I didn’t collect Jordans at first, I had Jordans. I used to skate in Jordan 1s all the time way back in the late eighties. I didn’t start collecting them until the patent leather XIs came out. I’ve been collecting Jordans from the mid nineties. I have all of them, basically. All the good ones I have. I’ve storage units full of shoes, thousands of pairs of shoes, probably. I have so many. Mostly Nikes. Yeah, mostly Nikes.