LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – From Hollywood to the basketball court, Los Angeles is home to some of the biggest stars and creatives, which means fashion trends can start and end in the City of Angels. And when it comes to sneakerheads, L.A. can now add Sneaker Mecca to its list of nicknames and attractions.
Andre Ljustina, owner of Project Blitz, is one of the men who helped create and shape the sneaker culture in Southern California, for a hefty price.
“It is no longer just a piece of rubber and leather that you put on your feet and walk out on the street,” Ljustina said.
It is fashion, culture and art.
“This is actually something that people are investing in,” Ljustina said.
It’s the driving force behind the desire to own the most stylish and talked about sneakers on the market.
“My business card was wearing my sneakers on my feet, wearing colors that nobody else had,” Ljustina said.
Ljustina, who goes by the nickname Dre, is one of Southern California’s hottest sneaker dealers.
He is the owner of Project Blitz, and boasts a star-studded clientele that includes Beyonce and Jay-Z, Drake, Travis Scott and AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys. All in the market for high-end kicks.
“We have literally shipped all over the world…Saudi Arabia, Dubai, South America,” Ljustina said. “A lot of people are into this because of the value that they hold and their appreciation”
Colorful and uniquely designed kicks can range in price from $25,000 to more than $1 million. Back in April, a pair of Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototypes, sported by the rapper, sold for $1.8 million.
CBS2 News This Morning’s DeMarco Morgan’s news crew was the first and only allowed inside Dre’s’ secret Project Blitz headquarters.
“This is an undisclosed location, it’s a very tightly secured location that only friends and family, VIP’s and celebs have been too,” Ljustina said.
“We carry Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Asics, all the major brands,” he adds.
Shoes that originally start off costing between $150 to $200 later appreciate by market demand, and skyrocket in price when worn by celebs and artists.
“When I was growing up, it was literally athletic-driven and product placement. It was like the ads. it was the slogans, like the Air Jordans, ‘Gotta be the shoes,’” Ljustina said.
The top-secret warehouse also has a vault with some of the priciest and most valuable sneakers, including a pair of Air Jordans that Michael Jordan wore in the movie “Space Jam.”
There’s also a pair of shoes that Kobe Bryant wore in a game against Jordan when he played for the Washington Wizards.
Ljustina said both pairs could easily sell for more than $1 million.
Sneaker guru and expert Matt Johnson weighed in on what’s contributing to the sneaker craze.
“People are spending money on sneakers because they’re making money on sneakers,” Johnson said. “I feel like back in the day it was all about collecting and having something that a lot of people didn’t have, like limited sneakers. And now it’s resellers trying to make a buck.”
All the reasons that Ljustina chose to skip college and start his business.
“In that time I stumbled upon trying to find some of my old sneakers that I wanted because they were coming back out again,” Ljustina said. “And this was a time that no one else was doing it, and I had to buy a pair of shoes for $20 more than what they actually cost.”
His advice? Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to take risks.
“Literally, it’s kind of finding your calling and letting the energy decide where you are going to be at and having that gut instinct and feeling in your heart and doing what you want to do,” Ljustina said.
Project Blitz mainly operates online, serving customers and sneakerheads and sneaker geeks worldwide.