alexander-john

via Alexander John

Alexander John stands as one of the most influential designers within the art and sneaker communities. He knows what it takes to add coolness and style to brands and has collaborated with Puma, New Balance, Reebok, Nickelodeon, Microsoft, and Google.

By mastering the craft of art and design, John continues to take the culture to new levels. He recently won the Craft-Syndicate initiative headed by Jeff Staple. The program celebrates the collaboration between an aspiring master and an established entrepreneur.

John discusses Craft-Syndicate and reveals the importance of collaboration and using innovation to add a fresh perspective for millennials and the hip-hop generation.

How did you get involved with Craft-Syndicate program by Jeff Staple? 

I found out about Craft-Syndicate through Jeff Staple’s post on social media. I saw the designers and I submitted shoes. I had been following Staple on social media for a while. It’s a grand opportunity to have a company consider your work. They wanted to see who was the cream of the crop. The project was really cool. It’s changed the perception of my brand.

What inside made you decide to get involved in art and sneaker design?

I was working in retail with a good friend of mine. He was the guy that actually did shoes. He did sneakers. He told me I should give it a shot. I gave it a shot and it didn’t work out that well the first time around. I was doing different merchandising and setting up the store in downtown Cleveland. I called him in to do some sneakers that tied in with the jerseys. He didn’t show up so the owner of the store asked me if I could do the design. He bought the pair of shoes and I gave it a shot and the rest is history. The shoes sold. We were selling 30 shoes every month for $250  to $400 per pair.

What work did you do with Google? 

Custom sneakers, these are all sneaker related products. Sneaker brands want to relate to the millennials. So they reach out to companies that have cool products in hopes to cross-brand. It’s hard to collaborate with actual brands. It’s easier to go through a customizer or a customizing team to bring about a result.

What design have you done that sticks out to you the most? 

I designed the shoes and collaborated with a manufacturer to execute The Brooklyn Zoo Jordan 1. I designed it for Jay Z. We ended up selling that shoe in LeBron James’ store in Miami. They sold for $2500 a pair. The shoe sold out in an hour.

How many shoes were available?

At that event, we did 10 pairs. It was the first time this was heard of. With a guy like Jay Z wearing a custom shoe that was totally reconstructed and rebuilt. It was 2012 when the design took off. But more recently, I would have to say it’s the camouflage NMD that I designed called The Minimal Camouflage NMD. It’s a model that Adidas recently designed using their boost technology. They have these really unique notches that are in the soles. They look like inserts put into the sides of the soles. I camouflage those pieces into a very minimal style. These things are selling like crazy. My emails don’t stop because of this design.

How important are sneakers to the hip-hop and millennial generations?

It’s just as important as it was when we were younger. I remember how people felt when they had a pair of Air Jordans on. It’s important to our culture to have the new shoes. It’s different now because it’s more widespread. There’s more shoes to pick from. You still have Jordans that are selling like crazy. You also have people that are wearing Vans that are exclusive as well, through a collaboration that’s done with different brands. You have people wearing Adidas now. There are Pumas that are exclusive as well. Right now sneaker culture is really poppin’ because there’s a lot of sneakers to choose from, and a lot of collaborations to pick up. You have the Kanye West shoes, but then you have the guy that has Fear of God who collaborated with Vans recently. You have Pharrell, Pusha T, and Swizz Beatz collaborating with Reebok.. The millennials have it the best because they have everything we had growing up. This generation has a big grab on the re-selling. They buy one pair to rock, and one pair to stock or sell which is huge with millennials. The Yeezys are purchased at $200 and immediately can turn around and sell them for $1000. It’s very important to them.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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