Gus loved shoes. He began to show an interest in “cool shoes” around fourth or fifth grade. One of the first observable instances of Gus’s keen fascination with shoes was the moment he commented on his grandmother’s black Converse All-Stars. They were high-tops. He told her he liked them. She gave them to him. And so it began.
Gus regularly visited a local business called Long Beach Surf Shop. The place was right in the middle of town, there was only one main drag where all the stores were. Gus stopped by, on his own, or with friends--sometimes. Long Beach Surf Shop served several purposes to Long Beach locals. It provided a place for people to buy surf boards and surfboard paraphernalia. It offered all manner of surf “wear”—from rash guards to snazzy bathing suits to board wax to wrap-around sunglasses. And it sold shoes. Skate shoes. The other “culture” in Long Beach, aside from “surfer culture” and “hockey/lacrosse/sports-in-general culture” was skateboard culture. And the fact was surfboards, lessons, and everything else that went with it was expensive. Sports—the equipment, membership/dues for travel teams, etc.—were expensive. But all you needed to be good at skateboarding, and therefore part of that group, was one skateboard. Also, skateboarders did not have coaches and parents to boss them around. They did not have to worry about lifeguards saying to them “you can’t surf here.” They could pretty much go where they wanted and when they wanted. It was an independent sport—and Tony Hawk’s skateboarding video game made it super cool. By the time Gus was in sixth grade, his big brother was playing with his friends in a band. Punk music began to enter our house. The music seemed to “go with” the skateboard culture. It was all cool, and it was all pretty affordable.
Oskar was two years older than Gus. That’s just old enough to be someone to look up to, but not too old to be someone you might be able to tag along with, or join in playing games like Runescape, or Tony Hawk’s Underground. Tony Hawk’s Underground had really cool music, too. The whole thing—the affordability, the independence, the “cool” image of skateboarding (and the really cool ones in LA—that distant and dream-like city in that dream-like state of California), and the rebellious music made skateboarding Gus’s “culture” of choice.
So, Gus looked in the window of the Long Beach Surf Shop. Regularly. He took to going in on his own, trying on the sale shoes, and coming home to ask me for $20.00 to buy a new pair of Vans—on sale. That happened a lot. At one point, I even drafted a “Shoe Contract” for Gus—a document I was surprised to come across years later. I had clearly become too tired of being asked for money so often that I wanted him to promise to stop asking until his birthday. I never showed it to him. It must have been enough for me just to type it up.
The shoe thing had become a fetish. We began to call Gus “Imelda” after Imelda Marcos--the wife of the former president of the Phillipines, Ferdinand Marcos, who was reputed to have over a thousand pairs of shoes. Gus accepted it and did not mind.
In the first photographs that show Gus in his cool shoes, you can see Gus wearing the well-known skateboard shoe brands—Vans, DC, Emerica, Osiris, Supra. He focused on those in elementary and middle school—often making sure he had two different colored shoelaces—one pink and the other black, in fact.
By the time Gus was in high school, he was less focused on the skateboard brands, although he still doodled those brand logos on his high school papers. See the French worksheet with the Emerica logo on it.
In high school Gus continued to explore modern sneaker culture. The first two years were tough—a divorce, and a move. But Gus’s junior year was not so bad. That the first fall in our new apartment, Hurricane Sandy rolled right over Long Beach. That was three days before Gus’s sixteenth birthday. We lost electricity, heat, and running water. It was cold and dark. So, for Gus’s birthday, we piled into the car and drive to Roosevelt Field Mall where there was heat and light, and I gave Gus $200. Of that money, Gus spent $57.00 on a pair of Van’s S8His. No surprise that Gus would want a new pair of shoes to mark his birthday. You can see the receipt here.
Sandy was a blessing in that it knocked the High School out of business. After that, I was told, it was actually kind of fun to go to school. Everything had changed. Teachers, administrators were much more lenient and forgiving and relaxed. It was more a place to socialize than to work. Gus went to school and after school, his friends gathered in our home, hung out and listened to music. His grandmother gave him an old-fashioned polaroid camera and he began taking photographs of his friends, and himself. He loved Air Force Ones (especially the black high tops), he wore SB Dunks, Jordans, Bapestas. You can see him screenshotting the Bapestas here.
Gus and his friends continuously traded shoes. They did this quite spontaneously and often. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes I would bemoan the fact that Gus had traded away a nearly brand new pair (that I had just paid for) for a much rattier-looking pair—purely because the ratty-looking pair was “new” for him. He traded just for the novelty of the pair. This was constant.
Things went on like this. Gus went to Pasadena in the fall of 2014, to go to Glendale Community College while living with his friend, Brennan Savage. He came back on Superbowl Sunday, 2015. I believe that was when he asked me to buy him a pair of black (Doc Martens???) for the winter, he said. He was quite proud of those, I recall. And they were handy with all of the snowy weather. Many of the shoes photographed here were worn in 2015-16. One pair have a funny story—the Air Force Ones. For Christmas Gus had asked me for these—screenshotting them so I would know exactly what to buy. I got them for him, but they were the wrong size. So, Emma bought him a second pair—exactly the same, but the right size.
Even after so much of Gus’s clothing--the fancy blue Versace belt, the space boots, so many of the clothes he was wearing on the tour bus--never came home, those two pairs of Nike Air Force Ones made it back. He must have taken pretty good care of them, kept people from taking them for some reason. Or maybe they just weren’t fancy enough for anyone else to want.
Here is a Text Exchange Between Gus and Two of His Friends About a Shoe Mix-Up
Gus went off to perform with JGrxxn et al in February, 2016, stayed for a while in Denver, went to live back at 1700 University Drive for part of April, May, and then came home on May 22, 2016—arriving at 6:00 am on the red-eye from Bob Hope airport and arriving at JFK at six o clock in the morning. He flew back to Los Angeles on June 9.
The next few months were a very intense and productive time for Gus. He ended up paying for an apartment in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Many people were there all the time. Gus made a lot of music, and then came home for Christmas 2016. As soon as we got up to Cambridge, Mass to see his grandparents, we took a walk into Harvard Square. Gus wanted to buy Christmas presents. The first place that caught his eye, however, was a new shoe store. We all followed him in. He bought himself a beautiful pair of white leather work-style boots—lace-ups. I have a photo of him and Taz where he is wearing them.
They never came home.
A few days later, we drove back down to Long Beach. Gus had decided to stay longer in New York than initially planned because he had been offered the opportunity to work with Harry Fraud. He was very excited about that. It was a freezing cold winter. He didn’t like that. But he wanted to work w Harry. So, he stayed. One day he went to the mall--the same one where he bought those birthday Vans in 2012--with his friend, Quinn. He came home carrying a fancy Louis Vuitton bag and wearing the craziest boots I had ever seen. I exclaimed about them, saying they were insane. He told me they were very fancy and had cost him $1,000. I told him that was ridiculous to spend so much money on a pair of shoes--smh. He loved those boots and wore them every day, all over the place—even in the snow and salt.
I don’t know what happened to those Louis Vuitton boots. They never made it home. I still have the bag, though, and the little booklet that the boots came with, saying something like “Congratulations, you have just bought yourself a pair of Louis Vuitton boots.” He had been very proud of those boots.
After Gus went to Italy and France for fashion week in the spring of 2017, he inched up in the world of brands. A pair of Marcelo Burlon high tops and a pair of Helmut Lang ankle boots were included in the bags that came home after he died, and he most certainly had purchased those shoes in Europe—or were given them after wearing them in the shows. Gus wore those Helmut Lang shoes quite a bit. You can see photos of him wearing them in England when he was staying there during the summer of 2017.
He also wore a crazy pair of Adidas shoes with panda bears on them, and you can see video and photos of him wearing those in Echo Park and London as well.
The shoes in the photo above were his Benz Truck shoes.
Gus continued to love his sneakers, however. He loved Converse. You can see he wore these black ones a lot--even taking several pix of them and then making a post about them.
He also still had a soft spot for Vans--which had always been on sale at LB Surf.
Gus took this pic. of some cool vans in 2015.
But his favorite brand still seemed to be those Nike Air Force.
He really loved his Sus Boy Nike's--took several pix of those, including this one in the car on the way to Cambridge, Mass. on August 13, 2017.
He enjoyed the fancy shoes he got to try on--and wear ever so briefly--for photo shoots...
Gus snapped this photo (above) during his Paper Mag shoot.
He may have brought these Fendi's home to his London apartment. Not sure. It looks like it.
Gus had a bunch of shoes with him on the Come Over When You're Sober tour. He wore all of his different kinds of sneakers, and a big pair of boots—particularly once he was on the American leg of the tour. From his Instagram posts, you can see he really liked the black suede Converse Allstars. In the last week of the tour, Gus wore a pair of boots most of the time.
The funeral home returned them to me in a nice maroon bag--along with the underpants and socks he was wearing when he died.
Below are the “Shoe Stories” of several of Gus’s long-time friends, friends he knew from early elementary school until he died, and friends he made in Denver and remained friends with once he moved to Los Angeles.
In our friend group we all had similar styles. Same taste in t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and shoes. Luckily, we were all the same size foot, too. I have probably traded and received 25 pairs of shoes with Gus. And if a shoe didn't fit, we would somehow make it work. My favorite pair I received from Gus was a black and red pair of Nike high top Dunks. Though the shoes were large and wide, he explained to me why they look good in shorts too, not just baggy pants. After 30 seconds of chatting I was sold. I believe I gave him a standard pair of black high- top converse, something you can get at every shoe store, but I didn't question why.
(Pictured here are Dylan's sneakers, on Gus's feet.)
One time he traded Jon a pair of Supras he had just purchased that day, never worn. The last pair of shoes I traded with Gus was after his career took off. I had an all-white pair of Converse one star pro skate shoes. Under the fabric the color was pink. Though the shoes were ripped from skateboarding, he really liked how they looked. I left his house without those shoes that day, just to buy another pair, when he left New York.
“All black Nike air forces... that’s all I want for Christmas.” I remember Gus telling me that over and over so when I finally gave them to him Christmas of 2015, in Cambridge. I was shocked when Liza said she already had gotten him the same pair—HA! I think mine were the right size and he already wore the shit out of the other ones. I bought him those shoes and adidas sweat pants the ones with the stripes down the side, I told him he shouldn’t wear adidas and Nike’s together. It looked weird... he didn’t care. He still wore them together. Gus always wore whatever he wanted!
It was the first day of 11th grade. We all came to school with all our new clothes for the first day. After school, we were both wearing Converses. He had the red low top converses that he always wore and I came in with my sand camo high top converses and he immediately wanted them even though I had a size 10 foot. I knew they wouldn’t fit but he made them fit. He says Watch I’ll stretch out these shoes” forcing his big feet into my shoes while I’m laughing saying it won’t work but he made it work. After he gets them on, he passes me a pair of oversized shoes. So now we’re both walking around wearing shoes that don’t fit, but this was common with us.
When me and Gus were in 7th grade, we made a deal that we were gonna save all of our money, combine it and buy a van. Yes, a van, and we were going to empty it out and just use it as a place to hang out. We both kept our money in shoe boxes, but we didn’t get too far considering we didn’t have jobs and were 13. Whenever Gus was able to get money he loved going to Long Beach Surf--who were we kidding trying to save money for a van? I remember this one time he walked into the store, bought these dark forest green, army looking Nike skate shoes, walked out the store and threw the shoes he was wearing right into the garbage that’s located directly in front on the shop. I mean he spent zero time debating whether or not he wanted to keep his old shoes and instead impulsively threw them out. He did it to make us laugh but mainly because he was so excited to wear his new ones.
Those shoes were actually very different looking than the typical skate shoes everyone was wearing at the time, so people made fun of them but he liked them and that’s all that mattered to him. At a certain point in High School, Gus began to trade his clothes/shoes quite frequently.
I remember Carmelo, Gus, and I believe Dylan were like a trifecta of trading stuff and I just couldn’t understand why they did that. Didn’t matter to him whether his shoes were new and your shoes were old, or if you were a 9 shoe size and he was an 11, as long as he liked them he would offer you a trade. And he if couldn’t get you to budge on something he really liked, he would ask you to propose a trade and pretty much everything was fair game. He did it solely for the purpose to switch up his swag. He would put together outfits where none of the clothes he was wearing, other than his underwear, were clothes he bought on his own and yet still be content cause he was wearing something different.
The shirt and shorts were both mine at first then after a few trades… Bang!
Then came the rolled-up jeans/pants. When he first walked the halls of the high school with them no one understood. And then all of a sudden, boom, another kid’s doing the same (Tyler O’Connor). Next week, another (Skylar Kahan). Next year, the kids a grade below us. I mean he knew what he was doing fashion wise and you could see just by the way everyone copied him. He took great pride of being a trendsetter it was like he was a step ahead of everyone.
Emma, Angelo, Gus at their regular hang out--Burger King
Luis Venegas aka Yung Goth
This one time Gus and I stayed up the whole night until morning just to see the sunrise and we thought it’d be a good idea to take the bus all the way to Santa Monica. We were living in Skid Row at the time in an artist loft--pretty much a huge warehouse with no rooms or doors or anything for that matter (haha).
So we packed up and hopped on the next available bus. It was around 8 AM when we left. We eventually get to Santa Monica and the first thing we did was go into a random tattoo shop on the board walk. He ends up getting two huge neck pieces from this random tattoo artists at this random shop (haha). It was the pink panther and the Dollar bill with wings I believe.
After the tattoo session we walked into a shoe store called Undefeated and he bought these limited editions Black Low top Nike SB’s with a rainbow splatter. (I can add a photo as well you might have those shoes!)
This other time Gus came home after having dinner with Johnny Depp and his family at their house. He came back with these all-Chrome Air Force 1’s. He told me that he just walked into a random room, stumbled upon them, put them on and walked out. He loved air force ones haha! I actually found out later on that he walked into Johnny Depp’s daughter’s boyfriend’s bedroom at the time. His name was Ash or something like that. He told me he (Ash) didn’t mind and he thought it was funny.
I remember one time when Gus was receiving money from his label for a fashion budget, he spent all the money he received on only two items, a belt and $2,000 Gucci boots. He was wearing the same pants he had worn every day for months and then $2,000 shoes which he also wore every day for quite a long time, eventually even making a song about it. They were black leather boots, with red and green leather snakes in place of the laces. Also another thing is I would always see him give his shoes away (the ones he didn't like as much at least) I saw him give away a bunch of pairs of them to artists he looked up to, people he admired ,and people he wanted to bless with something cool to brighten their day. That might explain why a lot of them are missing now. Who knows whom he might have given them to?
As far as all the Denver early LA days I feel like there are no stories that are really sticking out in my memory about shoes. I could say some window shopping might have been done. There was a lot of sharing clothes I know that. We shared everything. I was working as a waiter at the time so I would get off my shift at work and go meet up with Goth and Gus and start making music late at night. Gus would wear about the same clothes everyday but would always switch something out or throw on an accessory that made the same outfit look cool again. He looked cool in anything, even the same outfit 4 days in a row.
Me and Gus always shared the common interest of shoes and clothes and drawing on them. I had painted him a black crybaby jacket when he lived and la and he would always tell me stories of drawing on designer items he modeled so he didn’t have to give them back ha hah. And on the last tour we were always getting really nostalgic talking about classic swag growing up as beach boys and listening to throwback songs like old wiz khalifa n makonnen n etc. and one night he brought out these all-white chucks just for me to draw on and I was like “hell yeah you know ima go crazy on these taylor gang haha. ”
On the converse star I made it say “goth star” instead of all-star and I had bexey write on the shell toe part. Gus himself drew the i suck pussy part lmao. He was very excited to rock em and wore em at the El Paso show. That day we went around to all the cowboy shops around town before the show and I bought a white button up to draw on also and I drew a big Mickey Mouse and he added his tattoos and the word peace out to it. I have the button up in a vacuumed seal bag still with me today. That boy was a style icon and don’t u forget it!
It was November 17, 2016. Gus woke up with the desire to buy expensive shoes on Rodeo Drive. He was running around the house, jumping on the furniture screaming “LETS CASH THE FUCK OUT” all morning. Gus wanted Louis Vuitton sneakers, and I wanted Chanel sneakers. I remember every store we walked into we were hounded and followed, not because people recognized us, but because we didn’t fit in. We didn’t look like we had the money to spend in these fancy Beverly Hills stores so the employees followed us around. Probably assuming we would steal something… Gus loved that. Gus was excited to check out and prove to them he wasn’t a “bum” lol. Not even a few months later, maybe even weeks, Gus gave the shoes to Wiggy. Thats how he was. Always giving his stuff away or trading. At the time I was upset because I bought them for him, and they were not cheap! But now a days I enjoy when Wiggy comes over wearing the shoes.
When I watch the video with the date and time, I always find myself asking.. If I knew then I only had a year to spend with this person, what could I have done different.
Even though my style was pretty lame, Gus would take my stuff and find his own thing to do with it. He wore a Turkish soccer jersey of mine in the Romeo's Regrets video. He wore my preppy patchwork shirt and Cleveland Golf visor in the first video he ever posted on YouTube--Feelz. Whenever he took my things, he would say to himself "I can't believe I'm taking this." He wasn't typically interested in my shoes, but when he came home the last time, he did try to slip on and walk out of the house in my Another One sky blue slides. I was kind of possessive of those. They were dope and I knew he probably wouldn't have come back home with them. So I didn't let him take them. Even here, in this video, you can see he took them into his room and was trying them out--he filmed Dylan trying them on!
One day Gus had decided he wanted to go to the mall, so I asked to borrow my mom’s car and off we went to Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY--about a 20 minute drive from Long Beach. This was one of the times Gus had come home from LA and every time he came back that call on my phone always put a smile on my face. Each time Gus came home it was like he had totally leveled up from the stories he was telling and songs he was creating the last time we had all seen him. With each trip, a new tattoo or some designer brand none of us could ever had afforded at that age, or an artist we had listened to together not even that long ago--he would have on a song with him. So, we arrive at the mall just like we had many times as kids, but this time was quite different and was really the first time I had seen fame surrounding Gus. We walked in through the Macys right as we walk in the door the store employee (about 25, in a full suit) starts following us around the store. I had thought “Okay we look pretty sketchy lol. Maybe that's just it.” But actually the guy came up to us later and was like "Woah, you’re Lil Peep right?!" That blew me away. I had never seen that interaction before--of Gus walking around getting recognized. After leaving Macys--because all the shoes in there weren't exactly what he had in mind (wack) we headed out to the food court grabbing some Mc Donald's sundaes. Sundaes in hand, determined to find some shoes, we went into the Louis Vuitton store. Here, we weren't greeted or even looked at besides by security. Who’s really going to take some kids with ice cream in their hands seriously? But then Gus spots the same exact shoes he had seen on Chief Keef on his Instagram Moon Boots. "Copped" Gus said as he grabbed the attention of one the employees and asked for his size. I wish you could have seen her face "right away sir no problem" she says, going to get the shoes probably in her head thinking we were wasting her time. She comes back out. He tries on the shoes and buys them right away. Upon leaving the store we hit the usual route we take around the mall Hot Topic, Zumiez, and then decide to head back home. But before that I realize we had a follower behind us in the mall, this one kid was following us trying to stay behind the columns. Then Gus goes "Look, look he's taking pictures." We both just started laughing and in my head I was just amazed at what I had seen that day. This wasn't attention because he broke the norm on what you should wear or what tattoos he may have had. This was attention from the work he put into his craft and it was honestly one of the coolest things to ever experience and see for my friend.