Sole & Shape Founder Dennis Green is a tasteful collector of vintage sneakers and one of the big promoters of the scene in Romania. His real name is Dorin Stanciu and he’s the creative head behind the Sole & Shape event, Hello There vintage shop and „This is my suit“ blog.
Dennis, you and sneakers – when did it start?
It was year 1993 and I was about 7 years old when I had my first pair of sneakers. It was a pair of Nike Waffle City and I was wearing it with a custom pair of really nice denim jeans made by my mother. The Nike pair was a gift, somehow charity, received from some distant relatives who had contact with the States back then. My mom specialized in shoes and clothing manufacturing and studied various schools regarding these two topics. During my childhood she was working at home and making custom suits, plus other clothing items for different people. I’ve always stayed by her side, watched her what she was doing, and learned everything I’ve could – how to thread a needle, how to cut a piece of fabric and finally how to create something just with a sketch. Later, when my mom started to work again at one local shoe factory, I’ve learned the process of making a shoe, how to handsew casual leather shoes and other related things from this beautiful complex process. All these experiences from my childhood helped me to raise and develop a basic visual culture of the footwear and clothing topics. All the credits go to my mom, because she’s the one who helped enormously, unconscious, at what would have become in the next years one of my deepest passions.The final piece of the puzzle that led to the birth, development and construction of this great passion for sneakers, was dancing. When I was 13 years old I discovered the street dance and the b-boying culture. I was part of a crew at the time and I’ve practiced it for about 3 years. The streetwear inspiration which came with that trend back then, simply blew my mind and my options.
What was it like growing up in Romania? Was it hard to get hold of stuff?
I was born and raised in Suceava, a small town located in North Romania. In the communism regime people didn’t had access to a wide range of products, not just with footwear and clothing, but also to food and other more important things. I didn’t have access to nice stuff when I was a kid, I just had cheap shoes. Unfortunately my parents couldn’t afford anything else. Back then, Romania had a lot of shoes factories which produced mostly pairs for export – adidas for example – but also some models to sell locally. The local design of the footwear and the clothing we had in the past, was always inspired by the West. People in Romania did wear sneakers and “Chucks” produced locally, in our factories, all of them affordable. In Bucharest it was hard to get pairs of Adidas or other models made for export, even for people willing to pay the price. You had to knew the right people and pay quite an amount for a pair of Adidas produced at The Pioneer factory, for example. After the Revolution from 1989, Romania started to import things massively. That was the key moment when people started to have access to a wider range of products and also famous models like Adidas Equipment and ZX series. Nike also made a boom after 1995, since everyone dreamed about “the American brand”.
How would you describe the scene today? Is it a lot different from other countries? What are the main differences?
Obviously, things evolved different in the Balkans compared to Central Europe or West, in the last 2 decades. Fast-forward to nowadays the scene in Romania is different compared to other countries. But, that’s a thing I’ve seen also in Italy, Germany and different countries across Europe. Each place has its own particularities and best sellers. When it comes to Romania, the main focus is on Jordans and running silhouettes. A good thing is that the local scene is growing and people are willing to learn about the brands heritage and history. At the opposite pole, we have trends here from time to time – either with a specific brand or some specific model; and a big problem with the fake products on the market.
You’re also involved in SOLE & SHAPE, the event. Tell us more.
SOLE & SHAPE was born at the end of 2013 with my idea to promote and grow the sneaker culture in Romania. Tired of being spectator of what was happening in other countries, I took the initiative to create a weekend event that will bring together all the national sneaker & streetwear shops, brands and enthusiasts – in order to create a community, promote it and promote its culture. This was just the beginning of something that now is considered the utmost important sneaker event in our country and the most influential sneakers portal panorama that maintains direct contact with sneakerheads, collectors, shops, media and brands. SOLE & SHAPE is also considered one of the international benchmarks in Eastern Europe, placing Romania on the map as a future target of large chains and a reference for this trend. We’re a team of two people – me and my girlfriend. I’m the head and I do come with ideas and coordinate everyone and everything. But, for each edition we work and collaborate with more than 150 people, from artists, to photographers, to brands or shops.
What are your top 5 favorite sneakers and why?
I’m definitely into runners. I like mostly the 80’s and 90’s decades, the key period when brands played a lot with shapes, construction, materials, colors and technologies. In my top 5 I would include (not necessary in this order): Nike Waffle City, Adidas Jazz, Saucony Blaze NC, Asics Gel Lyte II, Nike Air Skylon II.
Do you have a holy grail and what is it?
I have quite a few, but by far Adidas Jazz in the original colorway and my size – will be it.
What was your biggest steal – a shoe that you paid just a super small price although you liked it a lot?
It was a pair of Le Coq Sportif Apollo from the late 60’s and I’ve paid for it 3euro. I’ve never saw a pair like that before at some other collectors, neither after I’ve found it.
You have a very diverse taste and seem to like different brands, not just the giants with Swoosh and Stripes. Why is that and what are your favorite smaller brands?
Plenty of amazing pairs are out there and would be insane not to appreciate and dig through all the famous and “ghosts” brands archives and models. Each brand tested different technologies and produced unique silhouettes, custom pairs for athletes, different shapes, materials and colorways. Each and one shoe is unique and different compared to others. Beside Nike and Adidas, I like a lot Saucony, Lotto, Etonic, New Balance, Asics, Diadora and Tomis –a Romanian brand.