Me And The Sandalboyz

words by iqmall
images by thaartist

The occasional sounds of dragged footsteps peppered the confines of District 8 in Jakarta. Pacing back and forth, with both sets of fingers vigorously handling an iPhone 10, Andrew Dharmosetio patrolled his impressively built booth at Urban Sneaker Society 2019 in a relaxed tempo, a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of a fervent sneaker-centric convention. No one could’ve guessed it, but the LA-based Indonesian, masterfully orchestrated the whole set-up in under two weeks.

Scandinavian in inspiration but essentially Californian in vibe, the spacious booth was decked out in white panels with a single row of Monstera behind the front counter. Atop of plywood floors of course. It was like walking through a showroom of an expertly curated IKEA dining hall. Protruding out of the gleaming walls, were rectangle ledges, individually housing a single pair of sandals. A footwear choice that is often overlooked and undervalued. Decorated in almost every colour of the sun, they were purposefully exhibited like medals on the podium of the Olympics. Each given their own space and time to shine.

I knew they meant serious business when I sheepishly hassled the salesgirl for sizes so I could try them on. Each pair of slides was packaged in a pull-out box, preserved in a branded dust bag. While I deliberated about pulling the trigger on these premium sandals, I grabbed the opportunity to pose some questions to Andrew, who was intently advising me on his product in between my queries, to find out about the brand’s first foray outside of the states.

Could you give the readers of Culture Cartel the story and history of SANDALBOYZ? How did the idea come about?

Basically we’re from Los Angeles, all of us. I have 3 partners, we founded it, we started it in LA, we’re all born and raised. Our product is a slide sandal so it goes perfectly with the LA lifestyle, so you know we’ve got good weather, beach. You can dress lazy, but still look good, that’s kinda like the LA swag. The reason we’re here in Jakarta, just because me personally, I’m Indonesian. So it’s more of a passion thing for me. There’s a dope little movement, in Indonesia, and I want to be part of it. As far as the brand goes, we’re an American brand, but I’m slowly doing more stuff in Indonesia. Like the slides, box and everything are made here in Indonesia.

How far back do you and @franalations go? How did you guys meet up?

I met Fran in Las Vegas, it’s a long story but it’s really random, we met in a bathroom. We started the company together, there’s 5 of us, we learnt a lot from him. He had a background of collecting sneakers. From a standpoint of a sneaker collector, me and my other partners are not sneaker collectors, it was a lot of insight, making the packaging nice, how to market things, a lot of stuff like that and obviously he has a lot of good network, a lot of people. So, we did that together, for the first 3 years then he left last December.

If you could attribute the growing success of SANDALBOYZ to something, what would it be?

When we initially did the BBC collaboration, we weren’t anticipating for any resell or anything. It was my favourite brand, BBC and BAPE, Pharrell’s music, all that. When we got the chance to do the collaboration we were like, “Yes!” We brought back the diamond and dollar sign print and for the second one we did beepers and cigarettes.

We made like a normal amount but the demand was good so it sold out fast and there was a resell value, it wasn’t really in our plan. It’s nice to know that other people wants it that bad due to the iconic print. To me, it was such a special project, to have that print on our product was crazy.

What are some of your plans for the future? Expansion? We’d love to have SANDALBOYZ in Singapore.

Right now we’re mainly focused on the warmer states. 80% of our sales are from LA, a good amount is from New York too. Even though it’s cold there, but we’re mainly focused on the US market. Because like I just think slides are mainly part of the US culture, it makes the most sense there. Right now we’re in Jakarta right so I slowly want to expand it to Asia, because Asia likes slides too. We’re probably start with Tokyo and Jakarta first. After that we’ll grow move into Asian countries.

In Indonesia, it’s weird, the local prices in Asia is a little different. But our normal retail price is $65 USD, but here we lowered it to $55 USD which is still high for sandals. But in the US it makes sense, people wear Off-White Jordans, Yeezys cost $500, Gucci sandals are $200 a pop so it’s not that crazy to pay $65 for sandals but in markets like this I understand, it doesn’t make sense. I get it.

If you could… finish it up with 3 reasons why you’d prefer sandals over sneakers?

For me it’s just the way I dress, I only wear shorts, 90% of the time I’m in shorts right. And I just like the swag better, socks throw on slides, just walk around, you know. That’s my personal reason. But also on the other side, where we’re from, LA, everybody is kinda insecure, everyone tries to outdo each other. I’ll let everyone do their thing, I’ll be over here on the other side, just chilling’, if you wanna come join me, come join me.