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Claim to Fame: Owner of Cop Garden
For decades, people have been trading, buying and selling sneakers in whatever market and medium was available and most convenient to them. Sure, there was always a stop at an official brick-and-mortar store, but the item usually journeyed way beyond that, and then twice over. So in 2018, Adrian Garcia made things official, all neat and tidy. He opened Cop Garden, a store that allows people to buy, sell, trade or cosign their sneakers.
What’s been the biggest shock to you in terms of how sneakers has grown in the Philippines?
The biggest shock has been the growth in the interest and the community, and how many new stores there are and people wearing these kinds of shoes and sneakers. When we started in 2018, it wasn’t really like that. So, it’s crazy to see how much it’s grown and hopefully it continues to keep growing.
What defines the sneaker culture in the Philippines, and what makes it unique from other countries?
I think it’s a tighter knit group. Everyone knows everyone. Store owners such as myself, we’re close friends with other store owners, which makes it a friendlier environment that I really enjoy. Rather than doing all of this for the wrong reasons, people do this to be a part of the community, and it’s all about the respect. And that’s important for the culture in the Philippines.
Why do you think Filipinos have such an interest in sneakers?
When I go to the States and I talk to people in the States, it’s a lot of Fil-Ams and Filipino-heritage people who live in America, and ever since before, Filipinos loved basketball and all of the things around it that go hand in hand, eventually…sneakers. So, like I said, in 2018, you wouldn’t see families come in the store, and then fast forward to today, a kid comes in and the whole family’s wearing the same Jordans. I think it’s deeper than just what they see on Instagram; it’s a bonding thing to do with family and friends.
How do you think sneakers help define the Filipino identity outside of just sneakers?
Well, wearing sneakers in itself is kind of separating you—creating your own identity. Filipinos are quite prideful, and you can see it with how we support talent that gets big in other countries. I think wearing sneakers as Filipinos is our own little way of representing the culture that we have and the deep heritage and story that it comes from.
If you could have known how big the sneaker community would get, how would you have prepared for it differently?
Honestly, no. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. When I started in 2018, it was in that kind of gray space where there were some stores—it’s hard to explain, but it wasn’t the same as it is now. People weren’t getting along and stuff, so I think we got in at just the right time, and it’s good that we did ‘cause how it is now, it’s nice to have a little bit of a name established with so many new names and faces in the community.
Fill in the blanks for us: Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by ____ and kept alive by ___.
Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by community and kept alive by respect.
Another one: It’s about time that Complex arrived in the Philippines because ____.
It’s about time Complex arrived in the Philippines because it’s about time that the world sees how the Filipinos do it.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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