“For two months the boots got stuck in customs because they thought it was shady,” said Sprayground founder David Ben David of his new collaboration with the Colombian military.
All 500 pairs of his limited-edition shoes, which debuted today, were inspected one by one by customs agents — causing a delay before its original release date set in August.
David said coupled with its manufacturing and shipment from Colombia, the boot’s unusual military-style shoebox — emblazoned with verbiage in Spanish that translates to “only for soldiers” — likely raised red flags with the authorities. “It was stuck in customs for two months, and usually it’s a week or two,” David explained. “I was going to launch in the beginning of August, but why not tell a bigger, broader story?”
Indeed. It’s fitting that a shoe inspired by paratroopers got a release on Veterans Day.
The origin of the collaboration is equally as unusual as the whole package. The Colombian military, through an intermediary, reached out to the streetwear designer, known for his graphic backpacks, to produce the first shoe under his label. The boots, titled “Fuerza Cobra,” commemorate the Colombian army’s 50th anniversary against a rebel force. The silhouette is designed in the same style the country’s army troops wear, but done with Sprayground’s futuristic vibes.
“The boot has unique things done to it, like the secret stash pocket,” David said of the zippered pocket discreetly incorporated behind the tongue. The combat shoe is designed in a tonal sand colorway with Italian leather, rubber toe guards and a large shark mouth print around the heel — a signature of David’s designs and also a nod to WWII fighter planes.
Though it’s a departure from traditional military aesthetics, it’s built tough enough to battle nearly all terrains. The boots incorporate a waterproof membrane, performance cushioning, anti-bacterial fabric, cooling lining to eliminate moisture and industrial nylon fabric to mitigate abrasion. David himself went to the production facility in Bogota, where country’s military footwear has been manufactured for the past 35 years.
“The best person testing a shoe besides an athlete is a solider — they are in it longer,” David said of the quality testing. “They won’t change their boots no matter where they are for days, depending on whether you’re in war.”
The shoes are available in limited quantity on Sprayground.com. David, who launched his backpack and outerwear brand in 2010 and counts rapper Rich the Kid and DJ Afrojack as collaborators and fans, said that limited production is key for standing out in the market. “My philosophy of limited editions is that the fans and consumers want things to feel like an individual and something that has meaning,” David explained. “With the boots, same strategy. I wanted something with an interesting story.”