Uptowns. Jordans. Foams. Classics. Maxes. Gazelles. Stan Smiths. In at this time’s world, these aren’t simply sneakers — they’re cultural legends. These iconic kicks helped elevate what started as a each day side of life for Brown and Black of us dwelling in internal cities to a worldwide tradition. However because the lots have embraced sneaker tradition and streetwear, the roots and the folks on the coronary heart of the motion are inclined to get neglected. Of their newest collaboration with reggaetón famous person and legend Yandel, Ewing Athletics and Product Line Supervisor, Jonas Guerrero try to alter that, by paying homage to a neighborhood that has labored alongside the Black American neighborhood in elevating sneakers to changing into the artwork type that they’re at this time: Latines.
“As a Latino, I’ve all the time been large on [shining] mild on our neighborhood. I wish to inform Latin tales,” the 37-year-old designer tells POPSUGAR.
Telling Latine tales by sneakers is a sentiment that Guerrero admits, that even to him, at occasions sounds ironic. In any case, sneaker tradition has its roots in hip-hop, an artwork type that has included contributions from Latines since its inception. However, akin to the way in which genres like rap and reggaetón have turn out to be extra business over time, Guerrero has noticed an identical transformation within the sneaker sport.
“Earlier than it was extra about individuality, standing out, you understand, having a voice. Now, it is all financial,” he provides. “You’ll be able to have x sum of money and purchase something, whereas earlier than you needed to know somebody to know the place to get it.”
However whereas Guerrero brings that old-school ardour and mentality to his work, his newest sneaker design, the Ewing x Yandel Rogue, which is ready to drop in early 2024, bridges the hole between the previous and future. Guerrero cites the Nike Magazine, a shoe he refers to because the “holy grail” of sneakers, together with reggaetoneros Wisin y Yandel’s traditional album “Los Extraterrestres,” as influencing his design course of and getting him right into a extra alien, futuristic mindset. That is mirrored within the Yandel Rogue’s grey, white, and scuba blue colorway.
“It is a shoe for the longer term,” he says. And at a time when Latine artists like Unhealthy Bunny have turn out to be a few of the greatest stars on the planet, a collaboration with an icon like Yandel, who not solely stays related however helped reggaetón attain international heights, is a becoming solution to acknowledge the place Latines are going whereas honoring the various contributions our tradition has made to avenue model over many years. The Puerto Rican artist has been having fairly a profitable 12 months. Yandel turned a two-time nominee on the 2023 Latin Grammys, just lately signed a cope with Warner Music Latin, and likewise made historical past on the Empire State Constructing in New York by changing into the primary Latin act to carry out on the venue throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.
“A giant portion of [the Ewing Athletics] client base is Latino. And whereas we have completed all these rap collabs, I needed to pitch one thing based mostly on Latin music.”
“A giant portion of [the Ewing Athletics] client base is Latino. And whereas we have completed all these rap collabs, I needed to pitch one thing based mostly on Latin music,” says Guerrero. So he pitched them the Yandel collab. And as destiny would have it, the reggaetonero was already a fan of the model, having bought a pair of Ewing Athletics kicks every week prior.
“I am a giant fan and collector of sneakers and a giant fan of NY Knicks legend and NBA Corridor of Famer Patrick Ewing. Now, I get to have my very own shoe in collaboration with one of many shining stars within the sports activities world,” Yandel states in a current press launch.
However for Guerrero, who’s Puerto Rican and Dominican, this venture is greater than only a collaboration with an artist he grew up idolizing. It is the fruits of every thing he’s — his story. The kid of first-generation immigrants, Guerrero grew up within the Bronx. Unable to afford the costlier manufacturers just like the Jordans and Nikes his friends have been carrying, he would take markers to attract his personal “Jordan” or “23” on his Filas and British Knights. As he obtained older, his creations turned extra complicated with bandana print and or knock-off Gucci print.
“I used to be attempting to make it my very own,” he says.”I’ve all the time been into sneakers and individuality. I’ve all the time been distinctive and needed issues a sure approach.” However regardless of this early penchant for customizing kicks, Guerrero by no means thought that he’d be able to design his personal.
“My purpose was by no means to be a designer. I all the time thought, ‘I am a poor Dominican child from the Bronx, I can not be a designer.'”
“My purpose was by no means to be a designer. I all the time thought, ‘I am a poor Dominican child from the Bronx, I can not be a designer,'” Guerrero admits. Not solely did he not have the suitable school diploma for it, however he additionally by no means noticed folks like himself in these positions. Fortuitously, he was in a position to beat the chances and leverage his ardour for kicks into an internship at Advanced Journal, the place he wrote about sneakers. This chance would ultimately lead him to Ewing Athletics.
“With time, because the folks right here began seeing what I used to be able to, they gave me a possibility,” Guerrero recollects. That chance began small, giving his opinion on new samples. However his earnest ardour for sneakers was evident, and ultimately led to extra accountability and the chance to show his inventive imaginative and prescient right into a actuality. Even so, Guerrero is candid about his struggles with imposter syndrome and having to work to beat them.
“It is one thing that is been tough for me as a result of, like I mentioned, I by no means noticed myself doing what I am doing now. Lots of it was not believing that I may do it. Now, I do know what I deliver to the desk,” he says. “I’m going tremendous exhausting, and I do not take it without any consideration as a result of I do know that this might all finish straight away.”
With that mentality, Guerrero knew that it was necessary to nail the collaboration with Yandel, not only for himself, however for the model that believed in him and their clients. The Yandel Rogue marks the largest Ewing collab to this point, and it is also the model’s first time partnering with a Latin music star. Due to this fact, Guerrero felt additional strain to do his due diligence and inform the story as finest as he may. And that meant telling it in Spanish.
“Once you open the field, the comedian that comes with it’s in full Spanish. The little grasp tag that comes on the sneaker is in full Spanish. It is one thing that we have by no means completed earlier than. It is us telling our story by the sneaker,” says Guerrero.
And on the finish of the day, the narrative of that story does not belong to anyone particular person or group. It is the story of the underdog. It is Patrick Ewing’s story, who put the town on his again and is perpetually beloved and honored even with out bringing again a championship. It is Yandel’s story, going from being a barber within the city of Cayey, Puerto Rico to being probably the most profitable Puerto Rican artists of all time. And it is Guerrero’s story, each immigrant’s story, actually, of individuals coming to a giant metropolis stuffed with hazard and promise and discovering a solution to make it. However even with a profitable collaboration below his belt, Guerrero is aware of that he cannot cease pushing, and that success is just not one thing you obtain, it is one thing you do day by day.
“I simply wish to encourage the youth, you understand, those that appear like us,” he says. “, prefer it’s by no means too late. You’ll be able to’t put an age on success.”