Talking With Josh Pell, the Man Behind Those 'Ghostbusters' Sneakers

Everyone's favorite spectral pest control service now has officially-licensed sneakers. Josh Pell makes them.

With the Ghostbusters reboot coming down the spectral underground tracks, it’s time for Keymasters and Gatekeepers alike to brace for merchandizing impact. Josh Pell, who runs indie shoe brand Nookiee, is a fan, but he’s also in the vanguard of salesman. He wants to sell you some phantom-chasing shoes.

Positioned in the middle of the “geek” to “chic” style range (well, maybe not quite the middle), Nookiee’s tribute to the landmark movie turned heads at Comic-Con. The kicks are inspired by the beige jumpsuit design of the Ghostbusters, have a bit of a New Balance feel, and come in four varieties: Stantz, Zeddemore, Spengler, and Venkman. Their name tags are stitched on the side.

Pell spoke to Inverse about how the Ghostbusters project came to be and what it means to be faithful to a franchise when you’re trying to move units.

Tell me about these shoes!

They’re officially licensed, so it’s all about the detail and the product. Sony actually allowed us to get the last remaining original Ghostbuster suit out of their archives, and we color-matched the material and basically made the Ghostbuster’s suit in a sneaker.

Who approached who?

We went to Sony with the concept and they were blown away with the product. They just wanted to be a part of it.

In addition to the four uniform-style variants, there are two black-and-white casual sneakers and one special design modeled after Gozer, the Sumerian god demon from the first movie.


Was modeling the shoes after the uniforms the first idea you had? I’m looking at some alternative designs here too.

Yeah, I actually came up with that idea at four in the morning. Woke up out of bed, sketched the shoe in the dark, and that original sketch is not far off the final shoes now.

We’ve also developed some casual fashion speakers with the Ghostbusters logo and we’ve played around with Gozer as well. You never find Gozer products anywhere.

It’s kind of surprising because she’s the biggest bad guy in Ghostbusters, but we never really see any merchandise based on her.

That’s why we’ve done that. I’m a big Ghostbusters fan myself, and I wanted to pay respect to that.

What can you tell me about the actual design of the sneakers? Is it safe to walk around all of New York with these?

It’s a full Avia sole. So the foam we use is a soft, comfortable Avia. We have memory foam in the heels, so it will actually mold around your foot. The sock-lining of the shoe is actually made out of antibacterial and moisture material as well.

I’m a sneakerhead myself so when we go in to design the product, we make sure everything is double-stitched, the seams are rolled over so nothing can come unstitched, and it’s all about the quality.

Sneaker culture has really blown up over the last couple years, but it’s almost invariably linked to hip hop and basketball. Do you think the nerds are going to make a run on kicks?

Footwear is a lifestyle now. I think people are seeing what product is out there now and there’s so much cool things out now that people can actually create their own identity through their sneakers. And really show off their personality. I think people are really loving it. They can get something that no one else can get.

You’re taking preorders right now. Which character is the most popular?

Venkman for sure. I think everyone just identifies with his character. They love how he is in the movie as well and he’s just a really cool guy! Everyone loves Venkman.

When do we get Ghostbusters II shoes?

Have you seen my sketchbook already? They’re something that could possibly come in the future. I can’t really say too much about it.

Are there other franchises that Nookie is looking into?

We’re looking at a lot of retro properties… that I can’t actually name. We are working with about three major properties.