The Story Behind L.A.'s Coolest Spring Shoe Collab

Made up of vivid colors, breathtaking settings, and ample sunshine, Gray Malin's photos are the kind of art that might inspire you to finally book that dream vacation. Or, at least set an airfare price alert. In the meantime, we highly suggest you check out the L.A. photographer's work in its latest form: sneakers. 

Just in time for spring, Malin has teamed up with heritage brand Sperry with four limited-edition sneakers — and the brand gave us an exclusive first look at how it all went down:
Photo: Courtesy of Sperry.
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The four styles launch online today and will all be under $85. To celebrate the launch, we chatted with Malin about the images he picked, where he finds inspiration in L.A., and more.

First things first: How did you choose the images for this collaboration?
I wanted to showcase a variety of beach imagery from around the world, so we chose one of the beach from Portugal, one of the water from Cape Town, and one from Italy in black and white.

Can you recall the day you shot each of these images?
I remember each image vividly! The image of the beach in Portugal was taken on a very windy day, so it was a very difficult image to achieve. The shot from Cape Town is actually where you find the greatest population of great white sharks, and it was thrilling trying to spot them from the helicopter! And, the image from Italy was taken on a beautiful beach in Sicily named Cefalù; it is such a timeless La Dolce Vita spot. 

Who are your biggest influences?
There are so many. I love the work of contemporary photographer Aline Smithson and the beautiful imagery by Richard Misrach



Let's talk about the shoes. How are you planning on wearing each style this spring?
I will be wearing the Lisbon boat shoe with navy jeans, the Cape Town slip-on with white pants or navy shorts, and the Cefalù lace-up with black jeans or a suit. 


Sneakers with a suit is very L.A.! Speaking of, where is your favorite place in our city to find inspiration?
I always find inspiration at the beach, but the Getty Villa in Malibu is one of my favorite places to relax and reflect — it feels like you’re in Italy! 

What are your three favorite L.A. summer haunts?
I love to have a glass of rosé on the deck at Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica, and then rent bikes and cruise the beach. Day trips to Catalina Island are always a blast, too. This summer I am going to take surfing lessons to try to improve my technique near the Malibu pier.
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Last question: What's in your summer beach bag?
A Gray Malin beach towel (coming out soon!), Boom wireless speakers, an Aerobie Frisbee, a bottle of rosé or Champagne, and now a pair of Sperry x Gray Malin shoes!
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