Times Staff Writers

IT COULD have been any neighborhood block party in Anytown, USA, complete with good friends, a soft soul soundtrack and a heaping vat of creamy mac and cheese. Only instead of bringing Jell-O molds and town gossip, the guests at last Sunday’s Summer Kick-Down party at Undefeated brought shoes -- lots and lots of shoes.

The La Brea Avenue shop, ground zero of sneaker culture, held a party/shoe drive benefiting the East Los Angeles Community Youth Center in its parking lot -- which was paved over with AstroTurf, picnic tables and a fired-up barbecue. Unworn footwear replaced cost of admission and by dusk, dozens of sneakers dangled from the space’s floating telephone lines. Nike, the event sponsor, matched each pair donated, bringing the total to more than 300 pairs of shoes.

“Take a look around us. We’re lucky,” said artist Alexis Ross, a tall man who smiles to reveal several gleaming gold teeth. “People have shoes to give away.” Stylish ones, at that.

Sonny Gerasimowicz, art director of the upcoming film “Where the Wild Things Are,” contributed a pair of “intense” red, white and blue suede gym shoes that resembled July 4th firecrackers. He also proved that a Marc Jacobs outfit and Armani leather lace-ups are perfectly suited for a parking lot.


Michelle Wong, who donated some vintage lace Jordache high tops, wore her friend’s swimsuit cover-up -- a “Don’t Mess With Texas” tank top bought for $3 -- and a big, bohemian fringe purse. “You can never wear too much fringe,” she said. Her friend Sophie Schneider rolled her eyes: “I think you can.”

Karen Kimmel, wife of Undefeated owner James Bond, wore a long black and white embroidered caftan she bought in Mexico. Her infant son Ace went preppy in a doll-sized Polo shirt and, taking a cue from his father, a pair of electric blue gym shoes.

The party also marked the launch of a collaboration between the Gents social club, Nike and Undefeated: A $28 black and metallic gold T-shirt with “Solid Gold” across the back. Most of the Gents in attendance wore a version with “Gents of Desire” on the back. Luckily, red pants, fedoras and more tattoos than Hollywood Boulevard on a Saturday night let members keep their individuality, living up to one of the seven sacred club mottos: Keep off the bandwagon.