We sat down with Tasha Bains from SNKRS ' N ' Houseplants to discuss all things sneakers, sustainability and inclusivity.
Hey Tasha, can you tell us a bit more about @snkrsnhouseplants and how it began?

 Of course! SNKRS ‘N’ Houseplants began as a passion project. Myself and Joey had finished uni and wanted to work in the sneaker industry but we were turned away from jobs for ‘not having enough experience’ therefore we decided to create our own space in an industry we love so much. We also noticed a trend in people who collected sneakers also collecting houseplants. Having a keen interest in sustainability we felt there wasn't a dedicated platform exploring the sneaker industries goal of being more eco-friendly. 

What is involved in your day-to-day role of running @snkrsnhouseplants ?

 My personal role is all the aesthetics and graphic design of our content. Including a lot of research into eco-friendly projects that we want to discuss on our page. I love our platform so much as I get to include a lot of my interests including interiors and homeware which we love to talk about as well. I create digital collages and zines mixing sneakers and plant elements, which have become one of our signature pieces of content. With an amalgamation of content, eco-friendly knowledge, collage, workshops and highlighting talent in the industry.

Do you think sustainability needs to be more of a focus in the sneaker industry?

 Yes definitely! The sneaker industry is one of the biggest polluters after air travel. Which is so crazy to think about. I always say it’s better if someone makes one positive change to their consumption habits rather than none. Through SNHP we want to encourage people to do their bit and make small changes in their lives to be a more sustainable sneakerhead. This could be ensuring you look after and clean your shoes to maybe reduce consumption by only buying one colourway of a release instead of all of them. 

 It’s also important for brands to make big changes to the materials they are using, perhaps opting for a plant-based material rather than using so much plastic and toxic glue in sneaker design. A great example of an upcoming material is Pinatex (fibre from the waste leaves of the pineapple plant) or grape leather which we have seen being used by Pangaia in their recent release. It’s important for brands to ensure these materials are being extracted from waste material which will help to close the loop. Encouraging upcycling rather than using more resources from our planet and adding to pollution through manufacturing processes.  

When did your passion for sneakers begin?

I was first exposed when at secondary school I was largely interested in all the sneaker adverts and was fascinated by the designs. I used to collect magazines and flip through them to see what the latest sneakers were. I had to save up for months to buy that one sneaker I had my eye on, which is definitely a very humbling experience. This made me truly appreciate the design of the sneakers I bought as I only had one choice to make. When I reached university that's when I really started collecting, I would often go for colourways that people had not seen or heard of. I wanted to stand out with my colourful choices, one of these was the Air Max 97 SE Corduroy Pack. I loved the textures of the materials used as they featured corduroy and multiple colours.

What is your favourite silhouette and why?

For me, it is definitely an Air Max, for both aesthetic and practical reasons. If I have to be specific it would be an Air Max 90 due to the colour blocking which is achieved on this silhouette. When I buy sneakers it's the colourways that really stand out to me. Also, your girl loves a bit of height, an Air Max gives me that little lift in an outfit to make it all flow together.

Where do you get all your sneakers?

 A mixture of places for sure!!! Any new releases that I really want I grab from raffles (if I get lucky). I have a couple of pairs of Air Max that I wanted from Depop. I am definitely trying to buy more secondhand/vintage as I love a lot of retro designs such as the Kukini’s or particular ASICS. I find that boutique stores that stock sneakers have the best collections of colourways which you would not see in typical sneaker stores. I’m someone who wants to buy colourways, people haven’t already seen or picked up before.

Is there any brands or products which are sustainable that you are loving at the moment?

I am a big fan of Helen Kirkum’s work; everything she creates I’m in awe of. As I make collages I am defo inspired by her patchwork style of sneaker design and how she upcycles lots of different sneakers to create a new design. RAEBURN is another brand which I admire for their design process of reworking surplus fabrics to create functional pieces. As I have an interest in interior design and homeware I love what “Are You Mad” are doing! They are the world's first high street recycling studio on Carnaby Street. They create beautiful accessories and homeware by collecting plastic from local businesses in the area. Definitely check them out if you are in the area!

As a woman in the streetwear and sneaker industry, how do you find getting your voice across? Do you think there needs to be further inclusivity?

 As a newcomer in the scene, I have definitely been welcomed especially by the women in the scene. Being South Asian I feel like there is not much representation of us in the industry but there are so many of us that love sneakers. This is similar to the sustainability industry, it’s so white facing but climate change is an issue which affects us all. As well as this I have had times where I have been explaining about sustainability in the sneaker industry and I have been met with disinterest from certain people who are ultimately interested in collecting hype pairs and that's it, but not seeing the bigger issue at hand.  I just ensure that I am always being my true self and that I am always confident in what I believe in, expressing this authentically. At the end of the day, I do what I do because I love the industries.

Seeing women who are paving the way in the sneaker industry is an inspiration for many aspiring female sneakerheads, have you met many other women working on snkrshouseplants?

 YES!!! I am surrounded by so many amazing individuals who are all very inspiring to me in different ways. Sandy Kaur (@skg.jpeg) was one of the first women I met in the scene and really shouted about what I was doing at SNHP. She has opened me up to the world and offered me so many opportunities! Titi Finlay (@ttfinlay) as well is someone who has inspired me for a long time definitely as she has shown her interest in the sneaker industry through art which is something I do through creating my zines/collages. At the start of SNHP I joined Babes On Waves, an amazing membership platform (more like family) that is where I met Jasmine Douglas (@transatlanticbabe) who really inspired me in my journey for SNHP and how I could grow it through partnerships! There are too many women to name really….

How important do you think Pam Pam London is to the female inclusivity movement in the sneaker industry?

 OMG!! SO IMPORTANT! I remember going into the store for the first time a couple of years ago before I had even started SNHP, I just loved that there were curated styles that would actually fit me!! The store has defo inspired me in future plans for SNHP. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for you guys!

Where do you see snkrshouseplants going in the future?

 That is a hard question because I have so many ideas! We defo want to do more community events where we can bring sneaker and plant lovers together. We are currently curating an exhibition/research project into why people collect sneakers and their consumption habits. We think it’s important to explore people’s collections no matter how big or small, as it’s all about passion, not the number of shoes you own. As an interior  lover, I would love to create a homeware collection inspired by SNHP!! The ultimate dream for us is to have our own space where we could curate eco-friendly sneakers, a workshop space and lots of houseplants of course!