Co-founder of the vintage shop Round Two, designer of 2018’s most popular sneaker of the year, YouTube phenomenon, avid collector—Sean Wotherspoon may be all of these things, but this multi-hyphenate individual goes far beyond the accolades on his resume. While Wotherspoon may not fit the stereotypical mold of what’s considered to be an “artist,” his sneaker designs with Nike and adidas, as well as his deep-rooted passion for music, sings another tune entirely.
Not far removed from Wotherspoon’s recent collaboration with adidas on the ZX 8000 SuperEarth™ sneaker—a design constructed with sustainable resources—he has built an empire powered by sourcing vintage goods and promoting recycled fashion on a high-end level.
Growing up, you went to the skateboarding camp Woodward PA. I know from seeing your pictures that you were into all kinds of different stuff such as Space Jam. Was there alternative music in your life when you were young, and what was your window into it?
I love that you’re asking about that. Alternative music was a huge part of my life growing up. I guess my introduction to music was through my dad. My dad is the alternative-rock head. My whole life, I remember him listening to alternative-rock music. I didn’t know the bands at the time, but I knew what was cool because he would get me the CDs. I remember some of my first CDs he got me: a Cake CD, a Björk CD, Nirvana. He introduced me to a dope variety of music. Now, I’ll hear a song, and I’m like, “Oh, my God! I love this song. I remember listening to this in the car.” It’s fun since I’m into vintage now, like constantly looking for T-shirts for these specific solos. That’s my alternative-rock connection, through my dad. Nowadays, I have homies that are into alternative rock, and I’ll see a specific shirt like Alice In Chains or something that goes for a ton of money. I feel like my dad was so ahead with what was cool.
I think we both would probably agree that alternative stuff these days isn’t limited to a genre or a type of person like it was when we were coming up. You look at people like Lil Uzi Vert. I’m a big fan of Dominic Fike. Dominic Fike to me is the new Sublime, the new Bradley Nowell. I know there are lots of ill people who come through Round Two, and there are all kinds of people who you meet. I’m sure there are so many people who we don’t even know. Are there people from the “alternative world” who come to Round Two who you’ve met?
For sure. I’d say one of the biggest has got to be—I don’t know if he’s considered alternative—but someone from the rock world is Travis Barker. When your brothers [Joel and Benji Madden] started coming through, we were tripping. To have your brothers coming through the store really tripped us out. I feel like, honestly, maybe the Madden brothers, in general, are some of the biggest heads in the streetwear community.
I know Toby Morse from H2O goes in there. I know there are random people. I was in there one time, and I saw Sean Kingston. I feel like Pete Wentz has been to Round Two.
Dude, 100%! He was actually in the store maybe two or three months ago, and all of our staff was tripping. He goes to the Vintage store. Lots of dudes from the alternative scene or the music scene, in general, all go to the Vintage store to cop some old hardcore tees or some old metal tees or some shit like that. And we actually get a lot of dudes from the hardcore scene as well.
Everybody is on this upcycling thing. Your attitude is so positive and so sick. People caught on to upcycling and vintage, and you invite people in. You’re so promotional.
To me, that’s the only way that you can truly make something happen. If you find this thing that you’re like, “Oh man, I love this. I’m killing it on this,” you’ve got to let as many people in on it as possible. If truly you’re trying to make a change or difference, it’s impossible without the community. That’s when I get excited about something. I love even touching on it because it’s so fun. I get excited on something, and I thrive off seeing other people’s excitement parallel to mine.
I wanted to ask about other projects you’re working on that you would want to shout out. I know you have a few.
The biggest project I can shout out is really the adidas SuperEarth™ project. That’s made itself into 75% of my life right now. That’s been my goal, to make this look as fun as possible, so everyone wants to join in and everyone wants to be like, “Oh, let’s explore some vegan options for our company or for our brand.” I’m just excited that it’s hitting the mainstream. It’s fun that people want to be involved. And so I think it’s a really exciting time right now, just across the board.
I have to shout out that we’re talking to you because when Awsten Knight and the guys from Waterparks came out to L.A. for the first time, they had never really played outside of their hometown. They had never really left Texas. Round Two is one of the first places that I brought Awsten and the guys. And I remember he found Benetton at Round Two and basically went on to continue to buy all kinds of stuff there. Basically, Round Two was really the gateway into Benetton and other vintage for him.
That’s always the goal. What I hope to hear is that someone found something in the store that they fell in love with. It’s like, he discovers Benetton and is like, “Oh, my God, I need it all!” I remember those first days that you would bring Awsten and the guys in the store. What good times. That was when I was working in the store, every day, all day. It was so nice just knowing that you were going to come in. Either we’d have some good stories, or maybe you would have a dope OG piece from your collection or you’d be bringing in someone new. Ever since those first days of meeting Awsten, we’ve just had this connection. I feel like we are in more or less these different worlds, but there are these common threads. I discovered his music through you. I follow Awsten’s Instagram. I’m on it all the time seeing what his next album is or what they’re doing next or where they’re playing. I feel like Round Two is a spot where we’ve been lucky enough to have these relationships with everyone.
You really created a community, and I can’t even put into words the amount of love for Chris [Russow], Luke [Fracher] and your work. We’re super appreciative. It’s interesting to see when we started doing what we were doing, and you guys were starting around the same time, to see the effect that you have had on all kinds of communities and in music and in popular culture and subcultures. Just to close it up and let you go, what are you listening to now, whether it’s new or old?
I’m on some old-school shit right now. I’m listening to the Mamas & The Papas, the Byrds, old Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Curtis Mayfield. I’m on this old music trip right now, and I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve been listening to Bobby Womack every day. I’ve been on this ’60s, ’70s music vibe for the past couple of months now. It’s such a heavy vibe for me that I was even trying to hit up Yachty or anyone I knew just to hang out so they could listen to the music. I’m like, “Man, I want someone else to listen to this music who’s never heard it before. It’s so good.”
This interview appeared in issue 394, available here.