Rapper A$AP Rocky's 'Skate-Rave' Under Armour Sneaker Will Raise Eyebrows
A$AP Rocky doesn’t skate. He raves. That might sound a little surprising when you consider the fact that the rapper-slash-fashion-killer chose one of the most infamous skate shoes of all time—the super-chunky Osiris D3—as the inspiration for his new collaborative sneaker with Under Armour. But as with all things Rocky, the move was deliberate, blending instinct with intention create a product and a moment that at first seem surprising—and then, surprisingly, make a lot of sense. i
Rocky worked with legendary skater Dave Mayhew (aka the D3’s original rider) for a year to fine-tune the design of the AWGE x Under Armour SRLo, launching the style at a multi-story pop-up and party this September in his native Harlem. The theme? “Skate-rave.” There were ramps, boards, graffiti, lasers, music—a true mashup of the two cultures. And it worked, highlighting all the rebellious, DIY, almost-anarchic energy present in the dual scenes that contributed to Rocky’s signature sneakers.
Before things got too out of control, we sat down with Rocky himself to talk about his approach to design, working with Mayhew, and why, when it comes to fashion, you have to really know your history.
He’s already wrapped his head around the “non-skater reinterpreting a skate shoe” thing.
No, [I don’t skate]. A lot of my friends skate, though. That's why they’re skate-rave sneakers. I feel like, basically, skate culture adopted from a lot of street culture. That's why it’s called streetwear, that they wear: big T-shirts, baggy jeans, shoelaces in your belt. That's all street shit. That originated in prison and shit, like sagging your pants and all of that. That's some hood n---a shit. I ain't appropriating, just perpetuating.
He knows he’s raising eyebrows by referencing the D3.
I just really wanted to do something new with Dave Mayhew, and I brought a new energy into it. He's not part of that company or anything like that, and now they [Osiris] want to relaunch their shit and all this other shit, but we're not going to throw shade. What I will say is I wanted to make something that wasn't made for skaters but for party-goers, man. Like, you want to be able to be doing something fresh—when the lights hit it, it just looks different. [The shoes have 3M reflective panels that pop under direct light.] You know what I mean? I want something for the motherfuckers that actually slamdance in mosh pits, and do all that wild shit at the parties, man. This is for them. This is for the homies.
He wanted to create his own look and feel for the shoe.
I added so many touches to it. I had to reconstruct it from scratch. Shoutout to Piers [He's referring to Piers Helmore, the man who put pen to paper on this shoe]. He was the guy that helped me do it, in addition to Dave Mayhew. Obviously, I had to adopt a lot of the similarities. But when it came to just the style of it, a lot of it is different. Even the sole: This is some new technology right here called Hovr technology, instead of being a bubble. The toe is different. The platform is bigger, to fit what's going on in high-end fashion right now. It's just like: It's a time to be alive, bro. It's a time to change culture again.
He’s come to terms with everyone biting his fashion-forward style.
I feel like we’re in the new ages of technology, and Internet, and social media. Usually, next week, the motherfuckers is on it, which is fine. I feel like fashion is really... It's spontaneous. I feel like it's impulsive, and on top of that, it's really a feeling. It's a statement. I don't think people get dressed to just wear clothes and rep brands. I think it's a fashion statement. It's really saying how you feel today.
That's just how that is. I think fashion is just a statement. You feel me? I just want to express myself the best way the black people ... Well, I'm not going to say black people, but hood motherfuckers really don't go to raves, or don't know what it is, or acknowledge it. That's why I wanted to be the first to introduce them to a different way of partying, man.
He learned about raves (and fashion) from Raf Simons.
I got my knowledge of rave culture from Raf Simons. Raf put me on it. I used to go to Antwerp when I was only like 22, 23. Visit him for three days or a weekend or something and just have him take me to his archives and just show me videos, play me music. I thank Raf and Michèle Lamy for a lot of my knowledge with fashion. They pushed me and took time out to teach me.
He sees his design, which is based on a model from 1998, as part of the cyclical nature of fashion.
Everything comes back around. You just got to know how to redefine it. Sometimes revisions are good, sometimes change is good. But sometimes people really fuck shit up. I'm just glad that it's kind of to a place where it's just like, "Oh, I'm a trustworthy guy." People know I'm not going to do no lame shit. People know I'm not just going to bite nobody. I saw a lot of people were concerned that I kind of bit the D3, but I feel like they could rest assured now that they know that I did it with Dave Mayhew, who designed it, the D3. It's like, "Get off my dick."
Knowing your history is important when it comes to design.
You got to pay homage first. You know what I'm saying? That's just identifying the origin and significance. Why is something relevant? Why is something in existence? What makes it what it is? Why is it unique? Once you identify with that, I think you can figure out what you want to do to kind of take it to evolve into the next level.
I'm all about the "edumacation." I'm a novice. I come from the streets with it. I don't know how to sketch. I didn't go to college for that, or intern at a big fashion label; I didn't go to FIT. My fashion institution is the streets, and my keen sense to high taste and good quality. That was it, bro. I just go with what feels natural and that's my gift from God that I identify with.
He loved working with Dave Mayhew. And they worked a lot.
That dude is out of this world, down to earth, cool as fuck. I just aspire to be like a dad like him when I have kids one day. He's cool, brother. Seriously. He's such a nice guy, yo. He really helped me with the outer layer, because we have to change it and whatnot; he came up with this new design. I kind of wanted it to have three layers, and he was like, "Nah." He designed the outer layer right here with the swivels like he did for the first D3. It's kind of tight. He had a whole new shoe that looked totally nothing like this, but still had this. So we adopted a couple of things from that shoe he had. It took about a year for us to design it. A whole year. Not like, "Oh, once a month, let's ..." No. A whole year.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.