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Sneaker Freak: I Dig Your Sole Man

There are a plethora of street style fashion blogs out there, but after you click on one after the other you kind of tend to get the picture that all they really look for are socialites in expensive outfits. They can tend to get rather monotonous, and oh so occasionally, obnoxious. Which is why we get a little excited when one comes around with a point of difference, particularly if it's home grown and awesome. This is precisely the case with I Dig Your Sole Man, a photo project devoted to telling the stories of people who wear cool sneakers. That doesn't make it sound like much, but then when you visit the site and realise that the photos are amazing and the style is completely unique, you can't help but come back for more, as you would do with all awesome things. We chatted to the man behind the concept about, er, the concept, and why he decided to be different. Then we thanked him and gave him a cookie.

Hello! To start with, please tell us your name, age, your work background and where you live.
Hi, my name is Lester Jones (although I work under the pseudonym of ‘Sole Digger’), I’m 35 and I live in Sydney.

When did you start your blog? Why did you decide to do it when you did?
I started the blog in late 2009 after I was looking to create a project that could help me develop as a photographer after my son was born earlier in the same year. At the time, my wife who has a background in high-end fashion introduced me to some of her favourite sites, which included The Satorialist, Face Hunter and Garance Doré. I loved the shots on each site, but felt their content was at times elitist due to their obsession with sartorial fashion, so I felt the time was right to create a project that focused on accessible street style, and the story behind the person in each shot.

Why sneakers? You have mentioned that sneakers represent an integral part of who someone is – why do you feel this way?
One misconception with my work is that I am a fanatical collector or a sneaker fetishist, but I’m not. I have always been interested in sneakers and this interest has been escalated by necessity as I have undergone a series of quite serious injuries and operations on my leg over the years. As a result of this I’ve needed to have an array of sneakers for work, socialising etc. so I guess you could say that my own personal story has influenced why I feel that sneakers can represent who someone is.
Quite simply, sneakers are something that everyone can relate to. We all have at least 1 pair of sneakers sitting in our wardrobe, and with so much choice available your shoes can make a statement and be a true cornerstone of the style of their owner.

What makes sneakers different to other things that people wear?
Sneakers make a clearly visible statement about taste, style and in some cases status that very few (if any) other items of clothing can make. They are a universally acceptable item that we all have, and can relate to due to price and accessibility.

What is your background in photography? How long have you been shooting for?
My background is as a TV Producer and Writer – something I have been doing for the past 15 years in the UK and now in Australia. Photography was always a mere hobby, and after learning the basics at college and University I dabbled, but only really started shooting seriously about 2 years ago.
Now, my work is getting interest around the world with a number of brands looking to work with me and the site which is a huge compliment and very exciting.

Is it difficult to approach people in the street?
Perhaps surprisingly, no. People are generally very receptive to being told that they have an interesting look, and even in busy cities when people are rushed off their feet (pun intended), they can end up spending 10-15 minutes talking to me and giving me their stories.

Is it difficult to find people who have a style you want to capture?
It can be difficult to find interesting people, especially in Sydney where I live. Culturally you are often more likely to see people in a pair of thongs, so finding people merely wearing sneakers can be a challenge, but it’s all the more rewarding when you do find them!

Where have been some of the best areas to find people wearing looks you’re into?
In Sydney; Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Paddington are hot spots, as is Bondi, and further afield Brunswick St in Melbourne always has an interesting array of characters.
Outside of Australia it’s always great to go back home to London (I’m originally from the UK) to shoot as it’s a real melting pot of people, styles and stories.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting your blog?
To think that people around the world (ranging from everyday people, to brands, stores, publications, photography companies and more) log on each day to look at my pics and stories is very flattering and humbling.

And the most difficult?
Juggling the ever-increasing time that’s needed to run the site with my full time job of Producing TV Shows is an on-going challenge.

What plans do you have for the future?
In addition to finding interesting collectors and visiting their homes to look at their collections, I would also love to do more travel with the site, and (if I can find funding) visit more cities around the world. Additionally, I also plan to introduce video content to the site.
Aside from these new developments, I just want to get the site to as many people as possible – so please spread the word!

interview: Seema Duggal


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