Vic Mensa collaborated with Michigan-based footwear brand Wolverine to produce a collection of boots that break the mold. For the design, the Chicago-born musician chose to riff on the iconic punk footwear staple: combat boots. The 1000 Mile Combat Collection comes in three different heights and colorways and ranges in price from $190 to $210 (a portion of proceeds benefit Mensa’s foundation SaveMoneySaveLife).
The collection is based on original 1000 Mile silhouettes and features custom chunky Vibram sneaker soles, so each model is lightweight, flexible and appropriate for daily wear in the city. Mensa’s choice of leathers reflects his personal style: The Ink colorway features black Horween Rookery leather that is classic punk; Burnout utilizes C.F. Stead Cracked Spitfire leather that looks beat to hell; Anthracite uses matte-black C.F. Stead Metallic Rambler leather that has unique silver streaks.
The aesthetic of the 1000 Mile Combat Collection compliment’s Mensa’s own clothing line 93Punx, a customized assortment of vintage clothing that shares the name of his current musical project. To learn more about the collection, we caught up with Mensa in New York. Touching on everything from vintage inspiration to the punk ethos, he describes why these boots are anything but ordinary.
Q: How did the collaboration start?
A: I pretty much only wear boots, so I’ve had ideas for boot designs for a long time now. When the conversation began with Wolverine, I looked into their history of making boots for the military and, you know, I was looking at old 1960s and ’70s ads they had in Life Magazine. Seemed like a dope opportunity to express some ideas that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and so I incorporated those into the sneakers that they’re focused on at this time.
Q: What’s the style inspired by?
A: I just wanted to incorporate a combat boot type of sole — there’s a Saint Laurent boot that I was kind of basing certain things around and a couple unnamed vintage boots — and just try to represent that and work that into the sneaker.
Q: How do these boots benefit your foundation?
A: So, a portion of the proceeds from this collaboration goes to my foundation which is called SaveMoneySaveLife. We work primarily in the city of Chicago. One of our main programs is called StreetMedics, and so we train people in Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods how to treat gunshot wounds, primarily. How to make a tourniquet, how to apply to a wound, how to seal a two-sided wound. We’ve trained hundreds of kids to date and are seeing success and seeing multiple people that we’ve trained save somebody’s life, usually a family member.
Q: That’s powerful. So how’d you choose these three leathers?
A: We wanted to have a clean one that was more like a plush black, and then the other two look more lived in and worn in. And that’s really what I try to do with most of the clothes that I wear, is like, bring new life to items that have already had a life, so I guess you could kind of feel that way with the more worn leathers.
Q: The 93Punx clothing you wear is all customized vintage stuff. Where did your interest in that come from?
A: I probably got into vintage clothes about 11 years ago or something like that, when I was just going into high school. Just trying to get my hands on old Polo was really how it really started. I was inspired by the guys that came before me in Chicago that were really into Polo. You know what I’m saying?
Like, Kanye hella into Polo. He was inspired by the same guys: Dem Dare, Twilite Tone and all these niggas that were wearing all that shit. And it was vintage then, you know. That’s in the ’90s. So, I always just had an affinity for vintage clothes after that, man. And, I think it’s fresh because you have these items that have character. A lot of times you buy something brand new and it just feels a little bit soulless sometimes. And more than anything, I get clothes and I wear shit because I like it, because it feels to me like it expresses how I feel. You know? And so that’s why I gravitate towards old things and then giving them a new life.
Q: When you look at the customization of these old pieces what do you think?
A: I can only imagine the stories that exist in the clothing before me. I never really try to find out or guess, it’s just a feeling. It’s an energy. It feels like somebody got into some shit wearing most of the clothes that I wear. You know?
Q: Definitely. Are you going to have new music coming out?
A: 100 percent, yes. So 93Punx is an album, a band and a clothing line. So, the album is pretty much done. Being mixed right now. Travis Barker is pretty much doing executive production. There’s collaboration with a lot of dope people — H.R. from Bad Brains is on the album, Joel Madden from Good Charlotte, my homie Jason from the band The Fever — and, it draws inspiration from rock music of different eras.
But it’s still got hip hop elements, and it’s its own thing. Really, I call it 93Punx just because punk is an attitude. You know? It’s an ethos. It’s a way of life and a way of looking at the world more so than any one style of music. Because the 93Punx music is not explicitly or traditionally punk music. Some of the most punk people have been people like Lou Reed, whose music was really not that fast and not that loud, but it was just what he was talking about, his approach. Like, Nick Cave could be one of the most punk dudes just at a piano. You know what I’m saying? Just because of his fucking energy and because of his intent.
Vic Mensa Combat Low (Burnout) by Wolverine $190
Vic Mensa Combat Mid (Anthracite) by Wolverine $200
Vic Mensa Combat High (Ink) by Wolverine $210