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Good Life Gurus: Nicholas Benoit, founder of bespoke sneaker brand Kickxotic

Bangkok is a city brimming with talented personalities and charming characters who have pushed their way through to really make their mark. There’s no doubt that they’re truly living their best life, and doing it in great style. In our Good Life Gurus series, we explore and ask the city’s millennial tastemakers and cultural arbiters to reveal what the good life means to them, and give us a little insight into how they live it.

For the very first edition, we’re zooming into the Bangkok sneaker culture. Our Good Life Guru today is Nicholas Benoit, the founder of Kickxotic.

We got candid with the talented half-Thai, half-American sneakerhead who dreams of taking the sneaker culture in Bangkok to the next level. His down-to-earth personality and strive for perfection is undoubtedly reflected in his work.

Having grown up in Bangkok and abroad, Nicholas was long a sneaker lover, and on his return back to Thailand took this to the next level by founding a bespoke sneaker company. It was then that Kickxotic was brought to life.

Over a cup of iced coffee, here’s everything he told us about his passion, his work, and living the good life.

[All images courtesy of Kickxotic and Nicholas Benoit]

Name: Nicholas Benoit
Age: 28
Occupation: Founder of Kickxotic
Neighbourhood: Lad Phrao

Please give us a little background about yourself and what you do.

I grew up in Bangkok and I also grew up in China. My background is a bit complicated. I went to the International School of Bangkok here and I graduated from Prem. I was a rebellious teenager so I didn’t stay in one place for long. After high school, I went to San Francisco and that’s where I got into the whole sneaker thing. After San Francisco, I went to London to finish my university. Then I came back to Bangkok. I didn’t really start off in the sneaker business. I actually worked my way into real estate and from there I found out that I really wanted to do what I love. Once I was able to pursue what I love doing, which brought me back to sneakers, I kind of dropped everything and went on with all of that — so that’s where I am now.

What does your company do?

We sell exclusivity. When you come to acquire my services, what I guarantee is that what you wear on your foot will only be with you. You determine how exclusive your shoes are. From there we try to basically push the standard of quality to the extreme – we don’t hold back on anything; we go all out. I treat every single one of my projects as my little kid basically – it grows up, and there’s the process from the designing phase to the sampling phase to the actual real thing. Some people want to rush that process but I’m quite religious with my process.

Who are your clients? What are they like?

When I first started this company, I knew that the main thing I wanted to do was to make sure my product was exclusive. There were people who not just wanted my product but sought after it. So, to build up to that, one of the things that I really focus on is to pick my clients and not let my clients pick me.

Because we take in only around 10 orders a month, and because I make all my shoes and am actually hands-on with it, it really limits the number of shoes we can produce each month. With each project that comes in, I really want to be able to showcase our best talent and skills because we don’t have that much opportunity to do so. Most of my clients are rappers, hip-hop young millennials, who find value in being unique and expressing their unique sense of style.

What does the good life mean to you? How do you live the good life?

I’m a creature of comfort. So for me, a good life means a comfortable life. A good life means being able to take care of the people you love while doing what you love.

How are sneakers an important part of living the good life?

In my point of view, as a sneakerhead, the sneaker is like the main focal point of my style. So, maybe you’ve heard this before – you dress from the bottom up – you pick out your shoes then you pick out your outfit. As the focal point, I feel like the piece of clothing that expresses one’s style and one’s true personality is in their sneakers. Everything else kind of compliments or emphasizes that style.

What role do you think style plays in living a good life?

So everyone’s style is very different. So, I feel to be able to express your style is to be able to express your personality without even saying a word. So, all ‘style’ is first impressions so why not make the best first impressions that money can buy.

What are your 5 good life essentials?
  1. A phone
  2. A speaker/headphones
  3. A pair of sneakers
  4. My Macbook
  5. My pen
What do you do to stay active?

I’m a big basketball fan so I try my best to play basketball. Apart from that, I’m not really an athletic person, but I aspire to be.

What is your self-care essential?

I do some meditation – goes a long and helps scatter my thoughts.

The one thing you can’t leave the house without?

My pen!

The best coffee in Bangkok?
My best coffee has to be within walking distance of my area so that makes it BlackHills. It’s a very small speciality coffee store in this very rundown condomium on the ground floor. It’s a very Japanese chic coffee store. They brew some of the most amazing roasts.
The best breakfast place in Bangkok?

I’m not a big breakfast person. Roast is a pretty good place. I love pancakes so also Gram Pancakes.

The best date night in Bangkok?

There’s no particular place. I feel like the best date night always depends on the person you are taking on a date. Anywhere but a mall. I feel people who take their date to a mall are pretty lazy.

The best drinks in Bangkok?

J.Boroski. I’m a big cocktail guy. They make the most luxurious drinks and they put in a lot of effort and thought into each drink. I’m always a fan of someone who pays attention to the smaller details.

The best escape from Bangkok?

Pai, it’s up north in Mae Hong Son Province. It’s a small mountain village but they have some amazing food out there. I’m there for the environment and fresh air. I’m more of a mountain person than a beach person. It’s more like a weekend escape.

The best place to splurge your hard-earned money?

I would have to say StockX. When splurging your hard-earned money on them, you receive sneakers that will retain their value over time.

Your favourite hidden gem?

Q&A. It’s this hidden small bar around Asok. They have a very New York speakeasy kind of theme. It’s very nice and the drinks are too. There’s no big sign and you have to look for it a little bit – but that’s the whole fun.

You recently shopped from?

Carnival. They are one of the biggest sneaker stores.

Your favourite place to travel?

The Thousand Islands in upstate New York during the summertime. I went there a lot as a kid my dad used to go sailing there.

Your favourite overseas restaurant?

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London. That one was a meal to remember.

A piece of advice from you as our Good Life Sneaker Guru?

Be true to yourself and your style will always shine the brightest. Someone else’s style will only dim that brightness. As for sneakerheads, don’t blindly follow the hype. With fashion, following the hype never leads to good places. It’s like a dog chasing its tail. Figure out what you like and rep it proudly.

Alisha Pawa
Writer
Alisha is a passionate dancer and is always creating her own choreographies. She is a fan of rom-com novels, a coffee-drinker who loves tea, and is always on-the-go for her midnight chocolate cravings. She hopes to tick-off her never-ending bucket list one day by hosting her own travel show.