An interview with Jason Faustino of Extra Butter
For the latest installment of our Stories of Stores feature we went over to New York to meet the good people at Extra Butter. A retail location continuously growing into something way more than that, a whole concept that overcame the frontiers of space, the New York based sneaker store is all that.
Passion, lifestyle, sense of community, friendship, it is all part of their bigger picture. Jason Faustino, one of EB’s founders shed some light on the store’s story.
Extra Butter is way more than a shop – can you better explain that concept?
It’s my favorite thing when we’re described as more than a shop. It’s nothing that can be formulated and is really a magical extension of the personalities involved.
Ultimately, I think it means we’re a lifestyle and a community, and one that’s not easy to pigeonhole, which I like as well. Extra Butter’s brand roots are in film and I believe our execution of things takes into account a lot of great film director’s artistic practices, and the inspirations behind our stories and designs clearly leave breadcrumbs back to cinema.
“Butter” as slang also indicates an old soul or at least one that clearly came from and respects our culture’s roots. It’s a long way of saying we operate smoothly.
How would you define the passion for the business of the whole crew that runs the shop?
Never-ending. I believe the core of our crew wakes up every day with something to prove and a desire for greatness, and I believe it’s what lead us all into each other’s lives as well.
A lot of us were, and still are passionate about many different things in our upbringing that culminate in a unique personality.
It’s that spirit of individuality that makes us so embracing of one another and eager to share with our passions as we celebrate them through our work. It’s a blessing that we get to do that in such creative means.
Do you believe the hype is killing the sneaker game? Is it reasonable for people to pay $500 for a pair of sneakers?
I don’t… I think the hype is 100% necessary. Hype driven by the difficulty to obtain something is never going away whether it be sneakers, tickets to a show, or a limited flavor of something edible.
I’m sure you’ll find me disagreeing with much of what’s out there that garners hype. Most of the time it’s shallow or manufactured. I think people need to really know themselves and the root of why they like things, and then the hype will be more personal and true.
It seems unreasonable for people to pay $500 for sneakers, but if it were me and it was a pair designed by or honoring Zack de la Rocha or Quentin Tarantino, people I’m influenced by, I’m sure I’d pay up if I had to.
If it’s $500 just to be a cool guy that says “I got these!” during the hyped phase, I recommend saving your money.
Do you think that sneakers will eventually start to be considered as pieces of art? What is your opinion on that?
They should be. I believe sometimes intentional, sometimes not, but sneakers are absolutely a work of art. Whether it’s the design of the silhouette itself or the way it’s colored up and treated, sneakers become works of art all the time.
I think I find other art forms more inspiring these days, but every now and then I’m still floored by some sneakers that come out, which is a good thing.
How did Extra Butter manage to create such a following? Locally and worldwide?
A combination of hard work and creativity. Local following stems from the many good practices we’ve learned and adopted as a business with family footwear/mom & pop shop roots.
I think locally we’ve established a reputation of being “for the people”, which was a theme that played part in my inspiration for the upcoming “#EBFTP” project we have with Saucony.
The worldwide following developed through digital presence and our collaborative projects, but I believe it started when we were just the new kid on the block with our Rockville Centre store.
Out in Long Island, we needed to let people know we were there and we did that by making noise with our creative endeavors. I would love someone to actually trace back to this, but we were one of the shops that would have fun with our photos.
We’d take sneaker shots in certain settings or with props that would further tell the story about the shoe’s design or past history. We even did a lot of on-foot shots, before we saw that being a thing.
I remember Kanye’s blog re-posted images we took of the Nike “Selvedge Denim” Blazers on foot and our phones lines got destroyed.
On the apparel side of things, whenever we carried brands we showed our personal love and connection to the brand by shooting our own lookbooks where we’d really have fun with different themes and settings that were either true to the clothing line, EB pastimes, or a combination of the two.
We established ourselves as an authority, and as storytellers and our photos were often reposted by industry blogs that have been premier sources of info and platforms for shops and brands in our industry.
You guys are well-known for your great collaborations – what can you tell us about the whole creation process? How do things really happen? Do brands reach out to you? Do you reach out to brands?
We’ve been on both sides as far as reaching out to brands and brands reaching out to us. Either way, we look at it as an honor and as an exciting challenge.
Our creation process is truly unique. It’s always personal and stems from experiences together, lasting memories, or things we’re just into. We like to have fun with the process, often being super excited for the teaser film we’ll produce, or the launch event itself.
We’ll usually see that far ahead into our vision which makes it easy to pitch to brands and convey our passion. I’d say we’re conscious of trends but not overly concerned.
To me, that’s equivalent to musicians or artists that make their work specifically catering to what the masses are into. There’s nothing terribly wrong with that, but I like that our way is to make an artistic statement about our brand and collective personality.
And as far as the process is concerned for me, I prefer really late at night. I enjoy solitude, and sometimes catalysts are the shower or wrapped up in inescapable feelings for a movie.
For others it’s over food, talking about memories, or simply letting loose letting conversations dictate the direction of something we’d like to work on.
What can you tell us about the recent ‘Karaoke’ collab with Asics?
I can tell you it was challenging, for a number of reasons. But overcoming them, the end product, and having the best possible time at both of our in-store releases makes this my favorite project of all time.
The events speak very clearly as to how different and fun we are. We hit so many things right, it doesn’t look like any other shoe to me, and whether it’s viewed from its true inspiration, or the new and also personal narrative that we’ve created, it all works as ingredients to something truly special with layers to be loved more and more as time goes on.
Please share about your top 5 sneakers of 2015…
I made 3 lists of top 5 EB projects, non-EB collab projects, and everything else, but to make this painful for me I’ll make an ultimate top 5.
5. Air Jordan 1 “Shattered Backboard”
4. Extra Butter x adidas “Wunderkind” Stan Smith
3. Epitome x Saucony “Righteous One” Shadow 5000
2. adidas Ultra Boost (black/purple)
1. Extra Butter x Asics “Karaoke” Gel-Lyte V
Photographer: Dave Wu