A Paris Perspective with Selma Sebbagh
Selma is not your average “Instagram girl”. In fact, she dislikes being labeled as such. She has a wide range of influences and when she’s not living out her confident and unique sense of style, she travels the world for inspiration on architecture, art and fashion – all documented on her well-frequented account. We went to meet the 23-year old Parisian in her hometown to hear why she doesn’t consider herself an “influencer” and how her love for design influences her taste in sneakers.
Hey Selma, please introduce yourself to the Sneakers Magazine reader and give us a glimpse into your life.
Hey, thank you! Such an honor to be featured in your magazine! I’m a 23-year-old girl living in Paris who really likes sneakers and fashion. I’m living in Paris, but I travel as much as I can. My routine depends on the time of year. If I’m not at work, my day is basically on repeat. I wake up in the morning, grab coffee. After that I’m capable of checking my mail, and then I see what I have planned. Usually I try to stay busy in the morning and do stuff like see exhibits, work in a cafe, etc. To be sure, I won’t lay down on the couch. I need to be always on the move, or to be always focusing on something, no matter what day we are. I hate having the feeling that I’m losing time, and that’s probably one of my biggest faults, cause unfortunately I’m really impatient. I will always try to see friends or family during the day, cause it’s really important to me also.
Your images on Instagram have a really special “Paris feel” to them. Especially your almost trademark pics in front of doors. What is Paris to you and in what way has the city influenced you and shaped your personality?
Thanks for these remarks, cause to be honest I never realized that. I guess for me it’s so usual to see that kind of colorful door that I don’t even realize that it’s labeled “Paris”. Paris is my hometown, I’ve been raised there, so I love this city. I love to see that we have the chance to have lots of different communities – a lot of people coming from so many different places – who live in the same city. I had the amazing chance to travel a lot as a child, and have the opportunity to go very often on vacation in different European countries. In a non-political way, I’d like to think that Europe shaped me. Travel has been the thing that inspires me the most. Travel allows you to discover different traditions, to meet new people and learn about new cultures. I love to go to museums especially, or discover new contemporary artists at galleries. This shaped me also.
At age 22, you already have a university education at the Sorbonne behind you. How was studying arts, and have you learned things that you can apply to sneaker culture or fashion as well?
Studying arts was awesome. I learned a lot about history of art, and also about the esthetic of art. That’s the only way also to understand what’s happening now in the world of art. What I learned gave me the keys to be able to understand not only the different movements of contemporary art but also to be able to understand the architecture, the design, etc. I learned things that can definitely apply to fashion and sneakers when it comes to design and esthetic.
What are your favorite artists and/or areas of art?
One of my favorite artists is Wim Delvoye, and I love the Centre Pompidou in Paris. I also go very often to art galleries in Paris: Galerie Perrotin, Thaddaeus Ropac, Almine Rech, etc.
As someone who’s really strong on Instagram, how do you see “influencers” and yourself as part of this game?
First, I don’t like the term “influencer”, cause that doesn’t mean a lot. I don’t like the idea that I’m only here to influence people, you know? I think it’s typically the kind of expression that defines 2018 and the problem of social media. I’d rather think that I have a community on Instagram – people that like what I do and follow me for that – and that they know that at the end we are the same. But I love to see messages from people asking for advice, etc.
Are you also in contact with the older generation of sneaker fans, and do you think there’s a contrast between older and younger fans or does it feel like one family?
Of course I am, and since I started to buy kicks I’ve always had contact with the older generation. During sneakers events, I had the amazing chance to meet lots of people who were always good to me and who taught me a ton of things. They had knowledge, and they were more than happy to share it with me. But sadly, there’s definitely a big contrast between the old and young generation; even if I still think that we are some kind of a big family at the end. Also, I know a lot of people from maybe an older generation that have awesome collections, and they see people who receive a lot of products from brands but who don’t understand the culture and the sneakers history, and I have the feeling that it can be unfair for them.
What are your favorite sneakers?
The Trainer 1 Flyknit “Black and White”: This is definitely one of my favorite sneakers of the moment. First, cause I’ve literally hunted for them since the first release cause I didn’t cop, but they were always going for over $700 on eBay and the resell sites, in a small size… But for once, I need to say, it’s really nice to see that the brand did listen to consumers and finally brought back the shoes last year. I’m not a fan of too many new styles – and all the colorways, which seem unfinished – but still, seeing these pop up again was awesome, and I’m looking forward to see what Nike will release in 2018.
The Nike Zoom Fly SP was one of the most important innovation concepts of this year. The comfort and the balance are unique. The sole of the Zoom Fly is different from anything I’ve tried before. It’s super comfortable on-foot and gives you the feeling that each step is being propelled forward. The overall design is strong, but I love the details most: the clock on the heel, the midsole text, and all the references to Breaking2. The different fabrics, like transparent mesh, also make the shoe very light and soft. It’s definitely the most beautiful, solid and innovative Nike sneaker of 2017. Nike Wmns Free Inneva Woven “Champagne Pink”: They are definitely one of my most favorite sneakers, even if I don’t wear them often. Not for the price, or the hype, but definitely because of the story behind them: I really wanted this pair for so, so long, but I couldn’t find my size anywhere. Three years ago, I was in Amsterdam with friends for the Approved Sneakers event. Two of my friends went earlier, and when I joined them, my friend found these Inneva Wovens for herself in perfect condition with the original box and for such a low price. When she saw my sad face, she told me she couldn’t keep them for herself and she let me buy them. This girl is now one of my closest friends, and those sneakers are one of my most prized ones.
The Jordan III True Blues are another one of my most prized sneakers, because they are the first ones I bought in 2011 at Foot Locker on the day of the release, and these were one of my very first pairs of sneakers. I remember when the True Blue Jordan III released in June 2011; when I saw the pictures, I was like “Oh my god, I really need these.” I waited in line at Foot Locker, and I was the happiest girl ever when I got my pair. It made me so happy to have this pair of shoes, I just wanted to have that feeling all the time. Happy to see also that Nike is bringing back this silhouette this year.
That’s a great list of favorites! What makes good sneaker design?
What I look for in a sneaker is a good design, and it’s not just what looks good. For me a good design is also all the little details, quality of the fabrics, shape of the model. And the most important: comfort! Cause the product needs to be useful; no one likes shoes that hurt feet. It means that the shoe needs to be comfortable, with nice esthétique! Good design also needs to be innovative. For example, a good sneakers design is the UltraBOOST x Parley. I think they really made a good choice when they decided to do this collaboration with Parley, using recycled fabrics, and they really pushed boundaries in terms of innovation. And I’m hoping that it’s going to be an example for other brands, and that they will follow suit and will join forces using recycled fabrics, taking more environmental actions, etc. If I had to pick another good design, it would be probably the Nike Zoom Fly SP, which was such a nice and solid aesthetic.
Your outfits are really diverse, with lots of different styles and brands. Have you always dressed like this and had fun in experimenting with looks? How did that take shape?
I think it’s part of the way I am. I need to mix different types of style because it’s a combination of all the facets of my personality. I love streetwear, and sometimes I’m a real tomboy. But at the same time, I love the classics. Wearing patterns and strong colors makes me happy. When I was a kid, I had a chance to travel a lot, especially to Mediterranean countries. My dad is fascinated by the Italian art history, so consequently we spent a lot of time in Italy. I was growing up with all these colorful images, patterns, mosaics, etc. That’s probably why I have this thing with colors and patterns.
One thing you are looking forward to in 2018?
To finally travel more.
Selma Sebbagh on Instagram
This story first appeared in SNEAKERS MAG #38 – Released in April 2018