In recent years, urban style and sneaker culture has grown rapidly in the Middle East. This community is a rising generation of cultural leaders who share their appreciation for sneaker design. Kuwait-based sneakerhead Tareq Q, better known as KicksTQ, is one of them.
As creative director of the agency Out of the box, and an influencer in his own right, Tareq has a unique perspective on the region’s changing sneaker scene and styles rising to the top – from his favorite Air Jordan 1 “Bred” silhouette to his unique companions selection of the Air Jordan 5 “Black Metallic”.
For this slice of unique companions, Tareq speaks with the HYPEBEAST Arabia how he developed his fascination with sneakers and how his appreciation for culture developed.
HYPEBEAST: What inspired you to collect sneakers?
I moved to Singapore from Kuwait during the Gulf War. This is where I first discovered sneaker culture. I remember being fascinated by skaters at school and wanting to be like them. So, I went out and bought some Airwalks and a board, but I miserably failed to be able to skate! It just wasn’t for me. It didn’t take long for me to meet the kids playing basketball on my school’s outdoor courts and I thought I would give it a go.
I immediately got into the sport and started watching the NBA and the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan. I became an instant fan and noticed the shoes he was wearing. I got my first pair of Jordans back soon after and the rest is history.
How would you describe the sneaker community in Kuwait?
The sneaker community in Kuwait is growing. Many people here of all ages seem passionate and curious about sneaker culture and social media has played a huge role in the growth of the community.
As a well-known sneakerhead in Kuwait, have you recognized a figure of choice among the community?
Yes, the Air Jordan 1 and the Yeezy 350 V2.
What does a working day in the life of KicksTQ look like? Talk to me through this.
I usually wake up between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. to arrive at my office early enough to complete any pending work related to my day job. My role as Creative Director in my agency – Out the Box – takes a lot of my time, but I can’t complain. Keeping busy is a blessing.
My workday usually ends around 7 p.m. and then I go home to spend as much time as possible with my family before I relax.
How would you describe your style?
I’m still trying to find a name for my current style. I usually wear a button down shirt or polo shirt with a blazer on top and cargo pants on the bottom; usually with a pair of Sacai waffles on their feet… it’s been the mood for 2 years.
Your unique companions the silhouette of choice is the Air Jordan 5 “Black Metallic”. What do you admire about him and what makes him stand out from the crowd?
I would say my overall figure of choice is the Air Jordan 1 “Bred”. This is my favorite shoe of all time, but the shoe that I hold the most is the Air Jordan 5 “Black Metallic”. The Metallic 5 were the first pair of jays I owned. I must have been about 10 years old by the time I begged my mom to get them. She finally did it after being convinced. I wore these shoes to school, I wore them to birthdays, I wore them everywhere. These were also the shoes I played basketball with every day. I wore them until the soles tore off. They were so damaged that I had to take them to a shoemaker to help me put them back together. He swapped out the soles, but it wasn’t long before they collapsed again after all the wear and tear. I loved these shoes.
Fast forward to 2016 and my IG account allowed me to work with Jordan Brand for the first time on a project for Sole DXB – it was a dream come true. This was around the same time that brands started to seed influencers (sometimes before release dates). I remember getting a package at home one day and I cut it down to find a new Air Jordan box waiting to be opened. I lift the lid of the box and see a brand new Air Jordan 5 “Black Metallics” in front of my eyes. Nike had taken a retro approach to them that year.
So the first pair of Jordans that Nike gave me turned out to be the exact same Jordan model that I owned. Crazy.
How do you see the evolution of the sneaker community in Kuwait and what is your hope for this part of the culture as we approach 2022?
I see it evolving at a rapid pace. I have seen this happen over the past three years. I would credit the growth of the community primarily to social media – Instagram in particular.
I see a small gap between the reseller community and sneaker purists. I hope the rising generation will take the time to really learn about the purity of sneaker culture. It would be nice to see the important stories behind the shoes being appreciated more.
I sincerely hope that the culture will continue to grow. It’s always a good feeling to be able to connect with people who have the same interests as you. It has helped bring so many people together and those bonds ultimately lead to friendship – I can speak from experience. It is a beautiful thing.