Cass Hirst Wants You to Shred in His New Prada Sneakers
As a kid, Cassius Hirst never really cared for art—that was more his dad’s thing. Now, at 22 years old, Hirst’s self-described “chaotic” creations are sitting pretty inside of Prada stores. What started out as a clever birthday gift for his father Damien—Hirst painted his first pair of sneakers when he was 14—later evolved into a DIY cottage industry with a cult following that includes Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, and the late Virgil Abloh. This week, the young multi-hyphenate celebrates the release of Cass x Prada, a 3,000-unit limited edition footwear collaboration that uses the Italian house’s iconic ’90s America’s Cup sneaker as a canvas for bold experiments with texture and color. Ahead of the release of Cass x Prada, Interview caught up with the young artist at the Prada store in SoHo, for a chat about skateboarding, working at Tesco, and his dad’s Prada collection.
INTERVIEW: What’s in your system right now?
HIRST: A lot of water and a couple of croissants.
INTERVIEW: We know that you grew up in an art house, but when did you realized that you were an artist?
HIRST: Actually pretty late in my youth. I hated art growing up, I thought it sucked. I used to want to work at Tesco, which is like a British Walmart. I would say, “I don’t want a job, I just want to skate and work at Tesco.” When I was 16 was when I realized that I actually enjoyed creating things, and that you can do anything with art.
INTERVIEW: What’s your first Prada memory?
HIRST: Probably my dad’s dress shoes. My dad used to wear slick dress shoes all the time, and he used to wear Prada sunglasses a lot. I never questioned it as a child, but it’s pretty weird to realize that the same brand I grew up seeing him in is selling my work.
INTERVIEW: The first shoe that you painted was a gift for your dad. Now, you have a whole wall at Prada of shoes. How does that feel?
HIRST: Unbelievable. It’s one of those things that never settles in.You just can’t believe it until it’s all over. I always wonder, “why don’t these brands go crazy and really embrace all these wild ideas?” It makes me happy to see that Prada has taken the leap and gone for it.
INTERVIEW: You took something that was part of Prada’s heritage and made it into something new. What is the importance of reimagining iconic pieces?
HIRST: It’s super important, because otherwise these iconic things can die. There are definitely people who don’t believe in reimagining those pieces. They’re like, “You can’t touch that, because it will ruin its timeless value.” This shoe is older than me, so it was exciting to put a new spin on it and punch it up again.
INTERVIEW: How would you describe the shoes? There are four iterations, but what’s the overall vibe?
HIRST: It’s a study on colors and shapes. I tried to accentuate everything the shoe already has. It’s less about offering my own artistic vision and more about using my vision to expand on what Prada has already done. All of this is about making the shoe go crazy.
INTERVIEW: The names are ATT4CK, D3CAY, SUST4IN, REL3ASE’. Can you explain the origin of those names?
HIRST: I realized I had to name them. I had been making music on the side for the past three years or so, and I realized I could borrow something from that. I was looking through the manual for my synthesizer trying to find words. I found ATT4CK, D3CAY, SUST4IN, REL3ASE’.
INTERVIEW: Where do you envision people wearing your shoes?
HIRST: There’s a shoe here for every setting. I can’t wait to see what people do with them and what outfits they’ll pair with them. Wear them in the club, wear them in the house, wear them at a wedding. Why not?
INTERVIEW: Speaking of using things, you have three Instagram accounts. One of them is just videos of finger skating. Who is your favorite skater, and can you skate in these shoes?
HIRST: That’s a good question. My favorite skater has changed so many times. Right now, it’s probably Jaakko Ojanen. He’s crazy. He’s unbelievable. He can skate like no one else. Also, I think you can skate in anything. People skate in Timbs.
INTERVIEW: Have you tried skating in these?
HIRST: I haven’t actually. They’ve always been a bit big for me. I need some bigger socks if I want to skate in these, but I’ll probably try it at some point. I’d love to see someone shred in these.
INTERVIEW: What are you doing for the rest of the day?
HIRST: I’ll probably get some food, go shopping. I’m kind of freestyling here in New York.