Kicks: Modern Notoriety Q+A
A conversation with Chi-Town blogger Oscar Castillo.
by Abe Schwadron / @abe_squad
Most sneakerheads can’t say they’ve had a gun pointed in their grill for a pair of J’s. Then again, Oscar Castillo isn’t just any sneakerhead. The Chicago native by way of El Salvador is the Founder and Chief Editor of Modern Notoriety—a sneaker, fashion and lifestyle blog born from the fresh-obssessed mind of a kicks connoisseur. Castillo got his start penning features for established sites like Sneaker Files and Nice Kicks before branching off on his own project. And since our KICKS section routinely cites M-N as a reliable source for imagery and info, it seemed only right to meet the man himself. Castillo joined SLAM via phone for a quick look at his site and his story.
SLAM: Tell us about yourself and your site.
OC: My name is Oscar Castillo, and I love shoes. I used to write for a few other sneaker sites, and I started my own site two years ago. Originally what I wanted to do was have it be a platform for a whole bunch of things, but since I got my start with shoes, that’s kind of how it started. I try to be different. I try to give people what they want, not what the companies want to see. In a lot of situations that tends to be a problem.
SLAM: So your blog doesn’t only do sneakers?
OC: For now it’s only sneakers, but eventually it’s going to turn into everything.
SLAM: What did you learn writing for other sneaker sites?
OC: Writing for other sites is always going to be the start for anyone who wants to have their own site. I learned a lot about the dos and don’ts when it comes to certain shoe info. But a lot of the time, people kind of hold back on info, and are too worried about what companies are going to say, rather than just giving the people what they want. Because the people are the ones that view the site. So I learned that giving the people what they want, they’ll appreciate you more, instead of just posting what you think is right.
SLAM: When did the point come when you felt like you wanted to start your own blog?
OC: It was after being at two companies and realizing the potential I had in myself to use the content that I was submitting on my own. Whenever I would submit something on their site, it would be buzzing. Like when I submitted the Aficionado article about the members-only sneaker boutique in Chicago on Sneaker Files, everyone was going crazy. Everyone wanted to know where this spot was. So me having the ability to be connected with all these stores, I could use that to my advantage to create my own thing. So that’s why I decided to start my own.
SLAM: Why did you decide to call it Modern Notoriety?
OC: I picked it because in this day and age, there’s so many people that gained notoriety through footwear, like collectors, and people who brought the sneaker game back, and made it cool so youth can enjoy it, that a lot of people don’t talk about. And in these modern times, individuals need to have some type of notoriety. So with my site, I kinda wanted to be notorious for having unique sneaker info in these modern times. I think the name Modern Notoriety is for modern brands who want notoriety, or certain sneaker info that needs notoriety or sneaker collectors that need notoriety, because without them, there’s nothing.
SLAM: How did you develop such a passion for sneakers?
OC: I grew up in El Salvador, and my mother had sent me a pair of Air Jordan 9s. This was after the civil war ended in ’92 or ’93, but there was still a lot of war going on, the government had crumbled and nothing was organized. So my mom had sent me a pair from the United States, and I had my pair on. My grandmother was holding me in her arms, and one of the guys from the rebels had his rifle pointed at my head, and wanted to take my pair away, because MJ was blowing up in El Salvador. We were poor, but the Dream Team was still going on, and everyone knew about MJ, the war just messed everything up. So I almost died in a war for a pair of shoes, so ever since then, I remember my pair being the Air Jordan 9, olive colorway. Luckily, my grandma held me tight and convinced the dude not to kill me. He wanted to kill me and my grandma for the pair on my feet. I was a young buck, and that’s one of the main reasons why I love shoes so much. That was a turning point in my country, and it was a turning point in terms of my very beginnings in the footwear game. So yeah, that’s my biggest memory.
SLAM: So are the Jordan 9s your favorite pair of sneakers?
OC: Yeah, the Air Jordan 9 Olive would be up there, which was my first sneaker. And the Air Jordan 10 Shadow.
SLAM: Do you follow the NBA? Who’s your team?
OC: Yeah, Chicago Bulls baby, all day, Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, the lockout is kinda messing it up for all of us. We’re not going to be able to see Derrick Rose perform in his new shoe, which by the way I love—the adiRose 2.0. It sucks because we’re not going to be able to see Nike Basketball 2012, or see signature sneakers worn by the players. Not going to be seeing that this year, so that’s a bummer.
For more, visit Modern Notoriety, with special thanks to Sneaker Fiend D, Aron Hanson, John Nguyen, and Pan Hompluem from AKIN CHICAGO.