What makes someone a “Bae”? When considering the next installment of Baes With Kicks, the characteristics I landed on were quite simple: consciously cool, utterly adorable and keen on personal flare — qualities not necessarily tied to gender but to creative energy. With Andy Martinez trailblazing a new era for hybrid footwear design, I knew that that same “Bae” persona was evoked directly through his one-of-a-kind artistry.
Raised in the rich Latin culture of Manhattan’s Washington Heights, Andy Martinez is the viral footwear artist taking over Instagram feeds and New York City pavements. Most known for his “&e Boot”, a remixed Air Force 1 paired with the upper shaft of a traditional cowboy boot, the 32-year-old has cemented himself as the sneaker community’s most auspicious artist, grabbing the attention of celebrities like Kali Uchis and the Nike brand itself.
Keep reading on for our exclusive interview with Martinez. In other sneaker news, check out Jacquemus and Nike’s Air Force 1 collaboration.
Name: Andy Martinez
City: Manhattan, New York
How many pairs of sneakers do you own? 70+
Roughly how many pairs of sneakers have you created?
Including my past projects, at least 300 by hand
What are your top three favorite sneaker silhouettes?
Diet Butcher Slim Skin High Cut Sneaker, Air Jordan 16 “Cherrywood” and Larry Johnson Converse “Con 2”
Tell us about your upbringing. What sparked your interest in footwear? I was born and raised in New York City, Washington Heights to be exact but I always say that you can find me anywhere between 72nd Street and 181st Street or the “1” line. And speaking of the 1 line, the 1 line actually was the first place that sparked my interest in footwear because, before the internet, you would make “shoe contact” before eye contact on the train. So, you would know what Jordans and Nikes were in style based on what all the kids were wearing on their commune to school.
How does your culture influence your creative process?
It plays a big factor in my creative process. If you were to see my cowboy boot for the first time, you wouldn’t assume that this came from someone from Uptown, a Dominican at that. You would think that this was crafted by like a quirky white dude from Texas or a really fashionable Japanese guy. But when you see the real creator, it doesn’t necessarily match. So, long story short, just how Dominicans are so diverse in culture, I’m trying to bring that into footwear.
Have you ever experienced creative burnout?
That’s a very great question because, yes. The reason why I began doing conceptual sneaker designs was because I was burnt out from my original passion which was cartooning and illustration. I went to college for 2D animation but decided to give that a pause. Based on the critiques I was getting, I wasn’t going to last too long in art school so I jumped into film and video just for the security of a job. When that interest burnt out, I went back to my first passion which was being on the 1 train, looking at shoes and taking my film and video skills of storytelling and bringing that into footwear.
Who are some people you look up to for inspiration?
Musicians but the overall genre I always come back to is hip-hop because it’s a mix of everything. It’s educational because you can look up a sample and now your palette in music is that much more diverse.
Are you keeping the &e Boot exclusive to Nike products?
If I were to translate design in a self-portrait, I believe the Air Force 1 looks more like me, you know what I mean? It’s like a two line poem: A cowboy boot and an Air Force 1. You mash it together and it has a new narrative. That new narrative is the &e Boot. In the beginning, I wanted to keep it exclusively to Nike products. That was in 2021. But now, so many creatives have caught on to the &e Boot concept and made their own on Crocs, other Air Forces and even on a Chuck Taylor.
The &e Boot is becoming bigger than I planned, which was originally a shoe made just for me. Now it’s for the world. But most importantly, it’s a design language that everyone wants to learn how to speak. A language where humor and elegance are celebrated seamlessly.
So, as my narrative grows, or if there’s another story to tell, the product will be created with another brand.
What does your dream product look like?
I feel like I’m doing it right now. These are my dream product. These are things you can’t find in the store, you know? So, the &e Boot or anything else I develop that has that design language.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
No one in mind. It just has to be fun and make sense. For instance, my most recent collaboration was with this store from around my way called “West NYC”. Just the name alone screams an &e collaboration. We did a one day event displaying a full size run (size 7-13) of the &e Boot. Having my boots on display was like a glitch in the matrix. Seeing pedestrians walk by and double take at the window like “Wait is this a real shoe?” Any collaboration that evokes that feeling those pedestrians felt
I don’t think any retail stores in NY would even allow me to do what I did at West. Most retailers in NY play the cool card a little too hard… like turn the AC down fam, I’m trying to shop.