FEBRUARY 1:

D'WAYNE EDWARDS // Footwear Designer

By Dionte' Johnson -

From the heart of South Central Los Angeles to your closet, D'Wayne Edwards' story is one of vision and perseverance. His journey began like many of ours, with an interest. That interest would eventually grow into a well-oiled discipline  that would go on to help generate well over a billion dollars in business.

As a youth, Mr. Edwards would sketch shoe designs with nothing more than a piece of paper and a No. 2 pencil. His teenage years were just as humble, working in the fast food industry helped make up his mind that climbing up a ladder and becoming just another piece to the puzzle was not the life he had envisioned for himself.

"As a teenager I worked at McDonald’s and my managers often told me that if I stayed at McDonald’s I could work my way up to a managerial position myself and make $40,000 a year one day. I told them my dreams were bigger than that: I wanted to be a footwear designer." - D'Wayne Edwards. Pensole.com

After graduating High School, and struggling to not only find money for college, but an actual college program that fit his dream of becoming a footwear designer, Mr. Edwards would eventually settle on studying business marketing at a community college, paid for by his newly acquired job as a file clerk at L.A. Gear. At that time the footwear and apparel company had a suggestion box in which they encouraged staff to leave notes on ways to make the company better, and every day for six months straight, Mr. Edwards would drop a sketch into the box.

Six months and 180 sketches later, D'Wayne Edwards was offered his first job as a designer, he was only 19 years old. Mr. Edwards was also only the second African-American footwear designers in the entire industry. This is just the beginning of a budding story that would eventually lead to a position with Nike, designing for Jordan Brand and a eventually ending up with Under Armour. In his two decades as a designer, Mr. Edwards has been responsible for over 500 men's and women's designs, he is one of only 7 people tto ever design an Air Jordan sneaker, his designed have sold well over $1 billion worldwide along with numerous awards and patents.

Mr. D'Wayne Edwards currently focuses his attention on building the next generation of designers through his program Pensole Footwear Design Academy. Find out more about Mr. Edwards and his endeavors by CLICKING HERE.

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FEBRUARY 2:

DREW GREER // Brand Architect

 

By Dionte' Johnson -

As a former undersized Division 1 running back, Drew Greer has found a way to approach each area in life with a chip on his shoulder, embracing the feeling of being an underdog. While he may look at himself through the eyes of an overlooked contender set to challenge the storied prize fighter, his accomplishments to date are anything but that.

A product of Los Angeles' storied East Side, Mr. Greer would eventually become an Ohio University Bobcat, and go on to become the first male in his family to graduate college. He would then go on to work with the likes of Supra, Ralph Lauren, Under Armour and Nike. While at Nike, Mr. Greer is credited with leading the brand's Limited Edition Footwear Department (today known as Nike Sportswear) from an eight-figure business to a half-a-billion dollar business during his tenure. These same practices would eventually lead to a multi billion-dollar machine after his departure.

"In the sneaker industry, I am credited with creating the current limited supply sneaker model for coveted products, the sneaker collaboration strategy with music artists, and mastering the art of market travel, plus mining insights" - Drew Greer. BlackEnterprise.com

Referring to himself as a "brand disruptor" or "brand arsonist", Drew Greer has built a career and reputation for having a vision, and achieving that vision with relentless pursuit. That passion has been the DNA of his life's work, and translate through his work as a professional, and as a father. Currently Mr. Greer can be found working as a consultant, writer and key-note speaker. To enter the mind of Mr. Drew L. Greer, please CLICK HERE

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FEBRUARY 3:

VA$HTIE KOLA // Downtown's Sweetheart

By Briana Holmes -

“I’m a good representation of the culture in this strange digital era.” Downtown’s sweetheart rocked baggy clothes and sneakers before it was a cool trend. Growing up in Albany, NY, she hung out with the guys and experienced bullying from other girls around her for style and interests.

 

She landed in New York City in 1999 and studied film at the School of Visual Arts and also began working at the Supreme skate shop in East Village. Landing a job at Stussy a few years later, Vashtie was connecting with the right people and gaining key experience that would help shape her distinct artistry.

 

Named “Downtown’s Sweetheart” by the Avante garde press, Vashtie was working under various disciplines of art and even working with some of your favorite music artists. Vashtie launched her own brand “Violette” in fall 2008 and in 2010, she became the first woman to design a Jordan brand sneaker and doing so under her own brand. The campaign was very empowering, holding the tagline “sometimes the King is a woman.”

 

“I don’t rap and I don’t play sports, but here I am, the first girl to have a Brand Jordan deal.” Vashtie’s collaboration with Jordan brand was culture shifting and her path has not only inspired women, but men as well.

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FEBRUARY 4:

KRIS WRIGHT // Senior Director

By Dionte' Johnson

It is not often that you hear about an intern who transitions into a marketing manager, who then creates and develops his own brand before finally landing a Senior Director role with the leading footwear brand in the world. Enter Kris Wright, the Clark Atlanta graduate with exceptional vision and design skills who has experience both managing some of the top brands in the world and founding his own.

In business, a great internship can often determine how far a person will be able to climb up a ladder. Being able to work diligently on the grunt work of assignments takes humility and laser-focus. Mr. Wright began his journey as a hard-working intern for Reebok where, in his eight years with the company, he was able to rise from intern to global marketing manager, and working side by side with the likes of musical icons Jay-Z and 50 Cent on collaborative projects.

After his run with Reebok, Mr. Wright would go on to found his own footwear company, Jhung Yuro (pronounced Young Euro), and for the next six and a half years he would serve as the Vice President in footwear.

"Jhung Yuro surpassed $1.5 million in sales within the first 14 months of it’s founding. In May of 2008, I formed a distribution partnership between Jhung Yuro and Headgear Inc. (The owners of Blac Label Premium, Blac Label Pink, Antik Denim and Taverniti So Jeans), after which Headgear acquired a 50% stake in the Jhung Yuro Footwear brand." - Kris Wright. Linkedin.com

After a successful stint as an entrepreneur, Mr. Wright would then take on the opportunity that most people only dream about; in June of 2011 Kris Wright took on a position with Jordan Brand, and hasn't looked back, working in every field from Product Management to Senior Director over a wide array of product categories.

Mr. Wright is a true example of focus and determination. Do not be surprised to see him continue to climb the ranks as he advances in his journey.

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FEBRUARY 5:

COREY GILKEY // Brand & Boutique Owner

By Dionte' Johnson

Without people like Corey Gilkey, there is no Sole Classics as we know it. Let me explain to you why. Hailing from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mr. Gilkey's early imprint in the streetwear slash sneaker community came as a sales manager for VarCity Clothing. During his near 4 years with the brand, Corey would travel from state to state, shop to shop, learning from the buyers and owners. It would be these same interactions that would strike him like a lightning bolt and lead him into the world of entrepreneurship. In October of 2002, before most of your favorite shops had even dreamed of opening a storefront, Corey would see a void in the industry, and an opportunity to fill that space, and just like that, Leaders was born.

"We saw a need for an independent streetwear brand at a time where retailers were focused on larger, mainstream brands. I worked in sales for Varcity Sportswear at that time and traveled the country to different retailers who just wanted to put big brands in their stores because that’s what they thought the customer wanted. Retailers simply didn’t understand the streetwear customer, but I knew what the customer wanted. We then decided to open our own store and develop our own brand, Leaders 1354." - Corey Gilkey. Rollingout.com

To most, Leaders, aka LDRS, bka Leaders 1354, is not just another sneaker boutique, it isn't even credited as one of the first, however, if you are from the Midwest, the chances are that the roots of your experience in the streetwear/sneaker world somehow tie back to the brand. Leaders has served as the epicenter of the culture in Chicago for over 15 years, and in The Chi, the brand has influenced so many that it would be nearly impossible to name those who do not have ties back in some way to Mr. Gilkey and his shop. From musicians, to athletes to artists and politicians, the reach of the brand stretches beyond the average imagination.

But how? How was this little shop from 53rd St in Hyde Park able to grow its brand to a global market? Mr. Gilkey credits all of his success and longevity to the relationships that he was able to establish over the span of nearly 20 years in the industry.

"I didn’t have challenges like that because we had great relationships. Our relationships are everything. We developed strong relationships with small brands from the beginning and maintained them as they blew up. Brands like 10 Deep, BBC, The Hundreds, and Akomplice remember me going to their booth and supporting them when they were nothing and no one was there. So when they became $20 to $50 million dollar brands they never forgot us. We paid our dues. Our relationships saw the story we tell and the support that we give individuals and they bought into it. People simply love the quality and content we provide." - Corey Gilkey. Rollingout.com

What also makes Leaders special is not just that it set trends, or carries popular brands. What separated Mr. Gilkey vision of his brand was that he was one of the first (if not the first) shops to wholesale his shop brand into other retail shops, which is still relatively rare to this day. The Leaders brand took off, and never looked back. Fast forward to today and what you will find is countless boutique-like shops like our own (Sole Classics) spread out from Chicago to the far stretches of the United States who have expanded a vision set forth by Mr. Gilkey and the Leaders brand. So look closely, you may see your favorite rapper in a hat with an L and wings on it, or a t-shirt with 1354 across the pocket. Or maybe you will just walk into a shop that focuses on pushing the industry forward... just nod your head, and thank Mr. Corey Gilkey.

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FEBRUARY 6:

DAYMOND JOHN // Businessman

 By Briana Holmes

For us, by us!!

Daymond John turned a $40 budget into $6 billion dollars by changing the fashion and streetwear game and he embodies the definition of entrepreneurship.

Before FUBU, he would go and screen print t-shirts to sell with messages about what was going on socially at the time. While doing that, he began to see that there was a certain reason people buy clothes and that is when there is an emotional slogan or connection to the specific product.

He also noticed that fashion designers were not acknowledging that they were making money off of the hip hop community and when he heard someone say “we don’t make clothes for rappers” is when it resonated completely for him.

He came up with the concept, “For us, by us” (FUBU) and he said that the message was not about color at all. It was only about culture and for people who loved hip hop. In between working two jobs, Daymond and three childhood friends worked on the brand FUBU. They didn’t have enough money or product, so one of their hustles was going to music video shoots and asking rappers to wear their product in the video and then giving it right back after the shoot was over.

As the name continued to gain buzz, they reached a point where they needed to produce mass numbers of product. Daymond took a risk and took out a second mortgage on his mother’s house and turned her home into the FUBU factory/office. Of course there were ups and downs through the process even after gaining so much popularity and money but that same process taught Daymond key lessons about entrepreneurship. Daymond built businesses in Europe and Asia, acquired other brands and was even appointed “Global Entrepreneurship Ambassador” by Barack Obama.

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FEBRUARY 7:

DJ CLARK KENT // Influencer & Creator

By Briana Holmes

DJ Clark Kent is a Crown Heights, Brooklyn native who has DJ’d since the age of 9. As a heavy sneaker junky and being heavy in the hip hop scene, he has had the title “influencer” under his belt for some time. 

DJ Clark Kent recalls purposely buying a pair of the first sneakers that were over $100, which were a pair of FILAs. He bought them to impress the older guys in his neighborhood and when he wore them, one of the older guys inquired about the shoes because he wanted a pair. This opened his eyes to influence and made him love sneakers even more.

On the music side, he worked heavily with Junior M.A.F.I.A and he helped break Jay-Z into the industry. He produced tracks for Lil Kim, Notorious B.I.G, Mad Skillz, Estelle, Lil Vicious, 50 Cent, Rakim, Canibus and Slick Rick. He was a big part of “Reasonable Doubt” by Jay-Z and he produced a few tracks on that album as well.

Nike partnered with him to collaborate several times. He is most known for his signature “112” touch on Nike silhouettes. Named “112” because each Brooklyn zip code begins with 112 and the signature featured elephant print, with black, grey and volt colors. To this day DJ Clark Kent is still influencing and he recently designed an Air Force 1 that contained pony hair throughout the entire upper and was only available for family and friends.

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FEBRUARY 8:

JASON MAYDEN // Design Director

By Dionte' Johnson

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the 90's, a young Jason Mayden would find himself gravitating towards the idea of flight. Both of the heroes of his youth were men who did not have superpowers, like Superman, but to him, and many of us, they could fly. Mr. Mayden would draw inspiration from both of these men and turn it into one of the most storied carriers in the sneaker world. His love for comic books, in particular Batman, would spark his interest in design, while being a fan of Michael Jordan would eventually lead him into the roll of Senior Product Designer at Jordan Brand for over 13 years.

The first of his kind, Mr. Mayden got his start in the industry as the first design intern for for Jordan Brand. During his tenure with Nike, Jason would design shoes for Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and more. His work would contribute to billions of dollars, and his gadget-like ideas have helped springboard the footwear giant into an error where sneaker technology reigns supreme. One of Mr. Mayden's more notable tech-projects at Nike would be the development of the Nike Fuelband, which sent shock waves through the industry.

"I was a very creative kid, but I was also extremely analytical and good at school in an environment that wasn’t necessarily praised all the time. Where I’m from, you get your reputation for throwing hands, not getting A's. I had to choose between being intelligent and being tough in a lot of ways. I had to fight that inner battle. That was the largest battle I fought. My own insecurities, my own inner voice that would cast doubt on my abilities, my own fears of being viewed as not adequate or good enough. That was always lurking in the back of my mind. What helped me persist was my belief that somebody had to do it, why not me? Nobody just woke up and walked into a gig. Everybody has to earn it. So I made a point to earn my spot." - Jason Mayden. SoleCollector.com

A personal decision to prioritize his family's needs would cause Mr. Mayden to leave Nike, and since his departure he has gone on expand his design portfolio beyond footwear. He designed Vessyl, a smart cup created to track hydration among other tech ventures. He now resides in Silicon Valley and holds a position at Accel Partners, a venture capitalist firm. His step away from the sneaker world would be short lived, in mid-2017 Mr. Mayden would launch a children's footwear line, Super Heroic, with a mission to inspire the power of play. You can read more on Jason Mayden by clicking HERE.

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FEBRUARY 9:

GENTRY HUMPHRY // General Manager

By Demetrius Stevenson
Anyone that has enjoyed Jordan Brand products at one juncture or another in their life knows that your love stems from the GOAT, Michael Jordan creating timeless moments in basketball that are rarely replicated nor thought about being done again. But behind MJ and the shoes he donned for all these feats, lies another legend by the name of Gentry Humphrey. 
Since 97', Mr. Humphrey has seen and been the forerunner behind Jordan Brand’s successes as the Category Business Director and International General Manager. With the year 97' in mind, all of our OG sneaker heads will recognize that he’s actually been around since JB was an official sub-brand of Nike before becoming an entity of it’s own.  
But before all the glitz and glam, the absurd samples he’s obtained through the job, and the ability to direct which path Jordan’s line would take he was a stockroom worker at Nordstrom’s. He pushed himself to obtain a beautiful pearl blue, 80s model Porsche 911 by the age of 21 from his earnings and never looked back. The steps taken along this journey are nothing short of noteworthy as well. He established the athletic footwear department in his Nordstrom’s eventually making his way to Nike as a regional sales rep in SoCal in 1994. His final accomplishments leading him to Jordan were positions as Product Line Sales Manager on the infamous Beaverton campus and being involved in the fourth signature model for Penny Hardaway. From there, the rest is history figuratively and literally. Anything that you’ve enjoyed from Jordan until 2010 had been due to his genius. 
This is to convey to all the youth reading this that we all house unlimited potential and the ability to accomplish whatever the mind deems as a reality. It takes the spark and passion to simply want it more than the next person.
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FEBRUARY 10:

DANIEL "DAPPER DAN" DAY // Cultivator

 

By Demetrius Stevenson
Hip-Hop and fashion, an inseparable correlation. A modern interpretation of yin and yang. All eras of the genre have seen many different looks and attempts at being the face of what the standard should be. One name that will forever be ingrained in the contribution to these looks and immaculate outfits is Daniel Day. For most you’ll get the, “Ahhhh!” reaction when you use the nickname, Dapper Dan.
“My sense of style came from having holes in my shoes. I was in third grade, and I would put cardboard and paper in the bottom of my shoes, but it got to the point where the soles were just gone. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I came home from church one Sunday and told my mother: ‘Ma, my feet are killing me. They hurt so bad.’ His brother would eventually take him to a Goodwill off of 124th St. and the feeling was so much better and was one of the major experiences that shaped his interest in the finer goods.
As he reached adulthood, an apprenticeship via Columbia University-Urban League program would take him to Africa in 1968. It was the true turning point for Mr. Day and what he viewed as his purpose when he returned to New York. The artwork combined with the tailors creating their own western interpreted suits was enough for Dapper Dan to start up his own boutique in 1982 on 125th St. 
Sadly, when you aren’t making money for the correct people but are using their logos and products, trouble will follow. Amidst many federal raids and court sessions, Daniel Day would have to close his operation down in 1992. But he never faded away, in fact more success stemmed from the seemingly endless chaos surrounding him. Dapper Dan still does private client tailoring and design on a non-stop basis and also ended up getting his true recognition from Gucci, by partnering with him as of last year and acknowledging that they drew direct inspiration from his fur lined Louis Vuitton jacket made for Diane Dixon for the Olympics.
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FEBRUARY 11:

JR DUPERRIER // Marketing Manager

By Demetrius Stevenson
St. John’s University, New York City, approximately 21,000 students. Just over a decade ago a gentleman arose from the sports management program and made his way out to Portland, Oregon to start dictating the relationships between players and brands by the name of JR Duperrier. 
His rise to the corporate platform began while serving as the Team Manager for the Red Storm basketball team. His passion was able to align in a professional sense as he joined Adidas almost immediately after his college career. Whatever pertains to keep Adidas athletes happy and wanting to rock the brand is his responsibility. He works with the design and marketing teams to educate athletes on what is available to them for lifestyle and game purposes. Coordinating tours, marketing events, and other positive PR experiences are other tasks JR has at hand.
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FEBRUARY 12:

HOWARD WHITE  // Vice-President

By Demetrius Stevenson
A resident of Hampton, Virginia in his youth Howard quickly became a legend on the playgrounds in the area. His game would translate to getting offers from North Carolina and Maryland to play and eventually rolled with the Terrapins in 1970. His game was molded around his favorite NBA superstar, Oscar “Big O” Robertson. His last two years while at Maryland were the highlights of his collegiate career as they went on to win the NIT and also have an Elite 8 appearance.
Injuries wouldn’t let Howard thrive on the professional platform after Maryland. He would come back to the university to serve as assistant coach and was the major player in getting Moses Malone interested in playing before he ended up making a decision to go straight to the NBA. 1978 would be the point where H joined Nike as a Field Rep and encountered a very young Michael Jordan.
Shortly after them uniting H negotiated the deal between Nike and Mike because in White’s eyes, MJ was the next big thing. His legacy is more than being a Terrapin now, he literally is “the man who made Jordan fly.” His contribution to the youth population are programs throughout the U.S. dubbed, “Believe to Achieve” that target multiple sports and inject funds into underprivileged cities and communities yearning for an upbringing.
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FEBRUARY 13:

"DON C" Crawley  // Influencer

By Demetrius Stevenson
“Nobody had swag man, we the Rat Pack/Virgil Pyrex, Don C Snapback.” (“I Am a God”) your wildest imagination can be applied reptile skin wise on the last gentleman’s hats mentioned in Kanye West’s song off his sixth studio album. Outside of subtle mentions through West’s work who truly is Don C? Just like the now well know Virgil Abloh, his beginnings to the general public are very elusive but there’s something to the fashion mogul that he enjoys as well, layers.
Don Crawley, now 40, spent his childhood on the South Side of Chicago becoming a childhood best friend of Mr. West. When the 2000s hit Crawley was still by Ye’s side and now acted as his tour manager, DJ, and merchandise designer for tour apparel. The success of Kanye would trickle down into the trenches and Crawley is a prime example. Among all this notoriety an unfortunate brawl with the media back in 2008 while assisting West would occur and Don C went quiet. But was it truly a bad thing? Nowadays you’re probably aware the answer is no.
Virgil and Don C were co-owners of the coveted RSVP Gallery located in Chicago and he applied his knowledge and insight on the fashion industry drive him to found Just Don in 2011. The idea behind his first products were to be high end cut-and-sew Mitchell and Ness hats and apparel. The featured accents and brims treated with reptile skins. He garnered a rapid and expensive following that rose him up to eventually collaborating with his dream brand, Jordan. Bucket list worthy for a kid that experienced the entirety of the Jordan era we’d say.
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FEBRUARY 14:

WILSON SMITH III // Design Director

By Dionte' Johnson

Anyone with nearly 35 years of security clearance at Nike would probably rank pretty high on the totem pole in the world of sneakers. It doesn't really matter who you are, to witness the growth of the industry leader in footwear in its most pivotal years would mean that at some point in your tenure you had to have brushed shoulders with some of the greatest minds and athletes of our generation. Ironically, Wilson Smith III is that guy with over 3 decades of Nike secrets, and although his face may be unfamiliar to most of us, he is anything but a fly on the wall. 

Joining Nike in the 80's was like being at Apple just before the iPod was announced. Being at the right place at the right time is crucial, but it helps when you are partially responsible for the "at the right time" part. Mr. Smith III would go on to design product for some of the greatest athletes of all time, including, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Andre' Agassi and Roger Federer. Mr. Smith III's work is mostly focused in cross training footwear, as well as basketball. Some of his most notable designs include the iconic Air More Uptempo as well as the Air Jordan XVI.

A graduate from the University of Oregon's School of Architecture, Wilson Smith III has been credited with being THE FIRST African-American footwear designers in the industry: an amazing accomplishment within itself. Hired by Tinker Hatfield - who would later become the most well known sneaker designer of all time - the mild-mannered cultural giant began his tenure with Nike by designing showrooms, offices and stores, as well as publications and other graphic elements Before long he would end up in Product Design before landing as Design Director.

"Wilson Smith, BArch ’80, came to the company in 1983, a few years after graduating from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, which he says instilled in him an understanding of the importance of “form following function, of really paying attention to the context of what you’re designing, and whom you’re designing it for.” In Beaverton, he found the perfect setting to implement that philosophy. Hired by Hatfield as an assistant in Nike’s corporate architecture office, he soon followed his mentor into footwear, where he had both a front-row seat and played an active role in what he calls 'a renaissance in design.'" - OregonQuarterly.com

Today, like most of the others who join him on this list, Mr. Wilson's focus is not only in design and furthering the culture himself, but to serve as a mentor to those who will one day succeed him. His designs has positively impacted us in ways that we do not even understand, and his legacy will continue to expand beyond the footwear industry.

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FEBRUARY 15:

IBN JASPER // "Barber"

By Demetrius Stevenson
“When I got my first job— I started cutting hair freshman year, and then I got my first job in the summer between sophomore and junior year. I went back to school junior year and had seven pairs of Girbaud jeans and ten Girbaud shirts and a pair of Air Max BWs and a pair of Scottie Pippen Flights. Then I instantly became one of the popular kids. I got into clothing to be invisible. I wanted to blend in.”  That however would be the last thing to happen for Ferrari Murakami, better know as IBN Jasper. Another notable resident from Chicago, IBN is yet another close friend in the clique of Kanye West. Most are unaware what purpose he has held through time with Ye but it’s quite simple. He is the barber of Mr. West and has been for over 20 yers now.
1990 was when Jasper began cutting hair at the age of 14. He became a professional at the age of 17 when he reached his senior year of high school. Kanye and IBN becoming associates and friends is because of Don C and John Monopoly of Hustle Period, a promotion company for a lot of the top parties in Chicago during their run. He used to do Don’s braids when he had long hair and also was the person that cut it all off. Around this time they had started managing Kanye as well and he was always wondering where the two were getting their perfect hair cuts from. 
IBN Jasper is imprinted in the sneaker world for those that appreciate high-end sneakers. In 2009 Louis Vuitton introduced a pair of kicks called the Jasper. IBN was actually unaware that he had a luxury pair of shoes named after him. Kanye gave him a call and simply asked if he had seen the shoes surface on the internet. He got on to check and there he was, immortalized in sneaker culture and had his name attached to a grail to a lot of collectors of the rarest shoes. His closest friends were asked for design input but never told the names of what were being mocked up. Ye’s best friends now had their personalities attached to amazing pieces of footwear. Nowadays his shoes fetch approximately $6000-8000 on the secondary market.
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FEBRUARY 16:

SCOTT SASSO // Founder & Designer

By Dionte' Johnson

The interesting thing about streetwear is that even though a strong amount of influence comes from urban culture, it is very rare to find a major brand owned or founded by a black man, or woman for that matter. Scott Sasso is the exception to the rule, however, he did not begin his journey with the intention on defying the odds, in fact, he never even really intended to start 10 Deep; one of the largest names in the streetwear industry for over two decades. Scott, a former graffiti artist from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, has made a career off of turning an accidental-find into a profit. 10 Deep, a brand worn by countless top-name celebrities, began with no game-plan. It was a side project by Scott, and was nearly scrapped on countless occasions, even after the brand begun to see success.

"Well I quit my job in 2004. I was working at an urban brand that I helped some of my friends start. I just got totally fucking bored with it. I figured I had enough of that. I had never really planned on being a designer. I thought I was going to go back to school or build a portfolio of my work to bring to galleries and just do 10.Deep on the side, but 10.Deep ended up taking over. I got the office in this building in 2004. 

At the end of 2005, I was ready to be done with it again. I drew the lines in the sand. I told josh and another guy working with me at the time, "If we don’t do this much in sales this season, we are done." I had burned through all the money I had saved from my other job through all the years of doing 10.Deep.

The chain gang sweatshirt, which was another joke to me. I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously. Josh had gone to a tradeshow and we had the sweatshirt there, in February of ‘06. We had 300 in the company and we got orders for 4,000 of them. He called me and he was like, "I think things just changed." That was the big one, because I was ready to be done with it." - Scott Sasso. Vice.com

Mr. Sasso has since removed himself from the graphic t-shirt department of the company and has focused more on the thing that has made 10 Deep stand out from its competitors; its Cut and Sew program. Scott's connection with Cut and Sew runs a little deeper than most would imagine. In the beginning years of the budding brand, Scott was able to lean on a familiar face to help him learn the ins and outs of pattern making, his mother. Scott's mother, who was a fashion designer herself, had helped the brand establish a footprint in the area that would eventually become what the brand is most known for. She would eventually end up in Salt Lake City, where she connected her son to manufacturers who would go on to create most of the early 10 Deep pieces.

Not much has changed with the brand, aside from being in well over 300 stores worldwide, including our own, and generating a boat-load of cash. Scott is still very hands on with his baby, overseeing all of the cut and sew designs and planning the themes and concepts for each season. With the help of his strong team, we have seen 10 Deep endure the highs and lows of streetwear, and rise again. There are rumors that a 10 Deep flagship store is brewing in New York, we hope so. We will be somewhere near the front of the crowd in line waiting.

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FEBRUARY 17:

LARRY MILLER // President

By Demetrius Stevenson

Larry Miller, former and returning President of Jordan Brand reflects on the significant leaps the brand made during his departure in 2006 and coming back to run the operation after time being President for the Portland Trailblazers. During his initial time with Jordan they were a sub brand of Nike still and were just transitioning into it becoming it’s own entity.
By Demetrius Stevenson
2012, Larry Miller is announced to return back to Jordan Brand and serve as President again after departing to act as President for the Portland Trailblazers from 2006 to 2012. Prestigious roles within the Swoosh are nothing new to him either as before his time as President he was Vice President and General Manager of Nike. From 1999 through 2006 he oversaw not only the operations for Jordan, which had just become it’s own independent brand, but Nike and Converse too. 
Michael Jordan personally attests to the success rate and high level of professionalism exudes and what that has translated to for his brand’s overwhelming popularity, “It’s great to have Larry return to the Jordan Brand at such an exciting time. He is a strong leader, knows our brand and understands how to accelerate the growth of a premium business.” (Source: news.nike.com)
Managing a hardwood team seemed to be his second calling as his time with the Trailblazers is nothing to scoff at. To begin, his time with the team resulted in an eventual three-peat visit to the Playoffs.  Crowd attendance was at an all time high as well. From December of 2007 onward, there would be 159 consecutive sellout streak for the Rose Garden. These are just some of the many achievements from his timeline with the team while beginning his own sports alliance.
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FEBRUARY 18:

TREVOR EDWARDS // Fortune 500 President

Trevor Edwards is corporate vice president of global brand management for Nike, Inc., a leading athletic footwear, equipment, and apparel designer, marketer, and distributor, known as much for its popular athletic shoes as it sporty celebrity ads. With a one billion dollar budget, Edwards develops and executes Nike's global strategy; he is in charge of the brand's design and its communications as well as the functioning of its advanced concepts team. Edwards' marketing genius has been instrumental in the signing of top athletes like LeBron James and Serena Williams.

When Edwards was 13 years old the family moved to Jamaica, something he did not initially appreciate. Living in Kingston and the town of St. Andrews, Edwards found he was now not in the minority because of his color but because he was English. He was teased a bit because of his accent, but he came to enjoy the differences about this new culture. "It taught me to see the world from a different perspective, and I came to love Jamaica," Edwards said. "It was just the culture shock of living where people saw the world quite differently."

In 1992 Edwards first heard about an opening at Nike from a headhunter. He later answered an ad in Atlanta that brought him onboard with Nike as regional marketing manager for its eastern region. In 1993 Edwards was placed in charge of strategic accounts (Footlocker), and in 1995 he was promoted to director of marketing in the Americas. Edwards then took over Nike's European marketing department from 1997 to 1999. He was then promoted to vice president of marketing for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Upon his promotion to vice president of U.S. brand management in 2000, Edwards took charge of sports marketing, advertising, brand design, and public relations. He also implemented a successful integrated marketing team concept in the United States. His successes had distinguished Edwards as a charismatic and creative force in marketing. With his promotion to vice president of global brand management, Edwards was recognized as one of the smartest marketing minds globally.
"Brilliant" might be the best term to describe Edwards' marketing skills. At a time when Nike needed to "reestablish its connectivity" and "rekindle it's relationship with consumers" in New York City, Edwards made it happen. "We basically boiled it down to the world of street basketball," he said. "We felt that if Nike could show that we understood street basketball, then clearly we had a better knowledge of sports than any other company." People within and outside the company still talk a lot about this campaign. Up to that point Nike's focus was on lead athletes. "This campaign celebrated, certainly from a basketball perspective, the heroes of New York." These were the athletes who played on courts throughout the city. Edwards feels the campaign worked because it was grounded in reality. "We didn't make it up. This is my approach to all of my marketing efforts, it's grounded in a real behavior." As a result, every product marketed in the New York campaign, such as the Air Darwin outdoor athletic shoe, completely sold out.

Edwards still plays his favorite sports from his youth, nowadays throwing in a bit of tennis here and there, and he understands well the "love-of-the-game" and its connection to successfully marketing the Nike brand. "Because marketing is a daily challenge creatively," Edwards told CBB, "it is important to market something you really care about. If you care about it then you are better able to put your spirit and soul into it and you will then come up with the right solution. I would say to anyone going into marketing, or any field, let your passion be your guide; then your instincts will follow."
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FEBRUARY 19:

JAN ERNST MATZELIGER // Inventor

Sometimes we do not realize the impact that certain people have had on the things that we hold near and dear. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself who created the zipper? Who was the first person who thought to add shoelaces to a shoe? Probably not, even though you zip up your jacket and tie your shoes as you exit the house every single day. We, as sneaker enthusiasts, often credit the designers, the athletes and the marketing minds for the sneakers that we have on our feet. But, what about the person who invented the lasting machine? Probably one of the most significant inventions in the history of footwear.

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FEBRUARY 20:

VIRGIL ABLOH // Creative Director

By Demetrius Stevenson

 

In the wake of numerous sneakers coming out on a near weekly basis many shoes get lost or forgotten even the pairs that are heavily marketed or included in a collaborative project. There's always one that that stands out more than the others. One thing you cannot say about Virgil Abloh however is that his “The Ten” collection by Nike had pairs that were shadowed. Each shoe had a crowd clamoring for it and going through whatever hurdles necessary to obtain it. One of the top dogs in Kanye West’s clique has quite the resume and “The Ten” is just the latest staple.

 

Born in 1980, his parents came from Ghana to provide opportunity for the young Ewe tribe member. He spent his upbringing in Rockford, Illinois where he attended and graduated from a local Catholic high school. His collegiate feats are notable too receiving his Masters of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and his undergrad is in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

 

Before footwear, Virgil had spent much time investing and creating clothing projects that you might’ve not known he was involved in. To begin him and Ye came together to create a line called Pastelle. Correlating with the mid-2000s colors and styles it had enormous promise. Unfortunately completion was never achieved and it was scrapped. Things would be different on the second attempt. In 2009, West and Abloh interned at Fendi Roma and the birth of Pyrex Vision came as a result. Some might be familiar with the Champion short blanks that had the word “Pyrex” plastered across the crotch of them that were fetching obnoxious amounts of money on the secondary market. Most might not be aware they were actually supporting Kanye and Virgil in the process. The brand would come to an end after a year however. There was no negative reasoning behind the decision. Abloh voiced that the brand’s intent was not to be a clothing company, they were merely pieces reflecting emotion of both artist and other components. His culmination of work would be the driving force for his true brand, Off-White, to manifest itself in 2014. A bonus fact about the multitalented gent is that in 2011 he was nominated for a Grammy for the popular Jay-Z and Kanye West project Watch The Throne. He was the art director behind the album.

 

“When someone’s sleeping, someone is working. I figured out this format to join my whole team on a WhatsApp group chat, so it’s all time zones, new ideas if I see something. For example, that shoe [Air Jordan 1] originally was all-white. I was in the airport at Newark [N.J.] and I can remember, I was going through security and I saw somebody in a white pair of Dunks, and I couldn’t tell the difference. I was like, ‘Emergency. The Jordan needs to be the Chicago color way.’ That shoe would have been sort of an anonymous white shoe. I was thinking about the kids on the Hypebeast comments being like, ‘His career is over. Throw him off the ledge.’” (footwearnews.com)

 

There are a lot of footwear enthusiasts that know of Virgil because of his contribution to the industry over the course of 2017. Between his own in house sneakers, he had the opportunity of a lifetime to collaborate with Nike on a ten shoe collection literally dubbed, “The Ten.” The premise was not to reinvent, but to reimagine all of the silhouettes by literally flipping the interiors and utilizing them as the uppers and displaying the internal working of popular kicks such as the Air Jordan 1, Air Presto, and many other iconic shoes in Nike’s vault even taking on some newer models.

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FEBRUARY 21:

ALEALI MAY // Influencer

By Briana Holmes

 

Aleali May stepped into the fashion industry when she began working at RSVP Gallery in Chicago while in college. Already having a stand out style of her own by incorporating streetwear with high end fashion, she popped on a lot of people’s watch list as a model and stylist.

Growing up in LA as a tomboy, she was always into sneakers -- especially Air Jordans. 2017 became a huge year for her by first, signing with one of the biggest creative and modeling agencies to represent her and also designing an Air Jordan 1 for both men and women. Aleali did not take her task lightly at all. She drew key inspiration from her childhood to develop the materials and placement on the shoe. And then she topped it all off by curating a pop up shop in LA for the release of the shoe as well. She turned Undefeated LA into a swap meet with west coast music and culture for the lines of people who waited to show they appreciate her work. Her work inspired women in the style and sneaker industry.

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FEBRUARY 22:

PATRICK BUCHANAN // Global Marketing Director

By Dionte' Johnson

Lexington, Kentucky native Patrick Buchanan never intended on pursuing a career in footwear, but that did not stop him from quickly climbing the ranks to eventually become the Global Brand Marketing Director for K-Swiss, a title that he still holds today. In fact, the Western Kentucky graduate only began his journey into the retail industry as a temporary solution to earn some money while pursuing a career in journalism.

After moving to Los Angeles to enter the entertainment world, Mr. Buchanan would take a job as a social media manager for shoe brand Creative Recreation in 2009 as a means to earn some income while he tried to get noticed in Hollywood. Even though the idea was for this to be temporary, he would end up staying with the brand for 7 years, building relationships and creating a demand for his abilities.

“I never imagined a career in footwear. From early on, I wanted to be a journalist. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue those dreams. Like most of the struggling actors and models in L.A., I needed extra cash and found a ‘temporary gig’ at Creative Recreation. At the time, it was one of the hottest brands out. Every celebrity from Kanye West to Zac Efron stopped by our Sunset Boulevard showroom. I was amazed how much shoes connected us. My team, who I’m still very close with today, became my family. We partied hard and worked even harder — sometimes the other way around. I honestly never looked back. Ten years later, I think footwear pursued me.” - Patrick Buchanan. FootwearNews.com

During his run with Creative Recreation, which would end with him employed as the Marketing Director for the brand, Patrick Buchanan's stock would skyrocket; catapulting him into a similar role at K-Swiss. Now Mr. Buchanan only reports to K-Swiss President Barney Waters. The ink on the page of Patrick's legacy is still drying, however, thus far, his ripples are growing bigger and more widespread throughout the industry.

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FEBRUARY 23:

JIMMY MANLEY // Marketing & Merchandising

 

By Demetrius Stevenson
Consortium, the concept originally was for retailers to share orders and to stock one another’s products. In 2005 the program was formally established by the Three Stripes brand. On paper the program targeted boutiques on a global scale and was meant to connect with very influential retailers in major and key cities. 
Jimmy Manley, was at one point spearheading the consortium project as senior product manager. His primary role was to ensure the success of the products being rolled out by Adidas in this exclusive footwear realm. You may not know it but Jimmy over the past couple years is probably responsible for some of your favorite Consortium collabs. Just to name a few; UNDFTD X Colette X Adidas Sneaker Exchange, Naked X Kith X Adidas Consortium. These aforementioned projects were actually a part of a year long collection consisting of 84 retailers and all were co-designed. Most of which Mr. Manley had some sort of involvement with.
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FEBRUARY 24:

JORDAN DINWIDDIE // Copywriter

By Briana Holmes

Jordan Dinwiddie is a copywriter in the marketing and advertising world. She is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago and went on to become a copywriter at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Oregon. “I got the job completely by accident at 23 and I think they are afraid to fire me.” - jordansaidso.com

By accident or by intention, Jordan has had the duty of copywriting for some of the most amazing, striking and moving advertisements for Nike. Her work for the commercial “Together” has won awards including, a Young Gun Award, a Bronze Cannes award and an Art Director Club award. “Four years after his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami, LeBron announced he would return to his home state to lead the Cavaliers to championship. The brief was to commemorate the moment he stepped back onto the court with a new team and his city behind him.” Other NBA work Jordan has been a part of includes, “Come Out of Nowhere,” “Cavs are Champs,” “NBA Finals (Cleveland Cavaliers 2016,” “Kyrie/Footlocker,” and “KD VI.”

We are looking forward to what else Jordan will help create in the future!