We have caught up with Jordan Brand’s D’Wayne Edwards and have talked about his most recent project over at Nike, The Future Sole Design Competition. The competition was created to discover and develop footwear designers for the future of Nike and offer them an exceptional opportunity to live out there dream as a sneaker designer. Interview by James
SXH: First of all can you tell us what initially influenced your interest in sneakers and what inspired you to become a sneaker designer?
D’Wayne Edwards: I drew my first sneaker when I was 11 years old. I really don’t know why but prior to that I would draw anything I would see but for some reason once I did my first design I was hooked. Once I got to high school I started seriously thinking about becoming a sneaker Designer but back in 1984 there was no college for me to attend for it. When I was 17 I entered a Reebok design contest and won but they did not hire me because I was to young. I was disappointed but it proved to me that I could make a career out of this and it drove me to show Reebok they made a mistake. Well, I guess they know now they made a mistake..
SXH: Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
Answer:I am originally from Joliet, ill but I grew up in Inglewood, CA and attended Inglewood High School. Since there were no schools for me to learn footwear design I decided to attend El Camino and Santa Monica College studying Business Marketing, Advertising and Management. In 1989, Robert Greenberg gave me my first professional design job at LA Gear at age 19. After 4 years at LA Gear I went on to design footwear for 2 brands that defined what Urban Street Fashion is today in, Cross Colours and Karl Kani until 1997. I briefly had my own brand and design firm until I joined Nike in 2000. Today, I am the Footwear Design Director for Brand Jordan.
SXH: What is your perception of the sneaker culture now compared to what it was when you first started designing sneakers?
You have to remember I am old school so when I started there really was no real culture just yet. Actually, I would say it was just beginning when Nike dropped the AJ3 along with the Spike commercial. In my opinion that was the beginning. And, it begun with the Air Jordan. that was the first Jordan with the Jumpman and as we all know that logo and the man himself has redefined this industry as we know it today..
SXH: What are some of the changes you have noticed over the years?
Answer:Back then it was fun and for the love of sneakers. I remember I use to paint my kicks just so I had different kicks from the next guy. Your shoes were your car. Your personal form of expression and you stood out more because there were not as many people in the game. Today, I guess it is the same to some degree as far as the love but now it seems people collect for the business part of it which is fine, I am not going to knock anyone’s hustle but this has diluted the love. Then there are the FAKES! Man, this is killing the culture. Please do not support these sites. Overall, I think it is great. I would have never thought it has grown to the size it has now and not in my wildest dreams thought I would contribute to this culture after 19 years.
SXH: Can you tell us how the idea came about for the Future Sole competition?
Answer:It started with the simple idea of how can we invest into our consumers and the future of Nike Footwear Design? So a group of Designers got together and created this competition with the goal of investing into our consumers future by providing them an opportunity to discover a career in Footwear Design. Once we had it all planned out we pitched it Nike/Jordan Brand and they loved it and gave us the green light to go for it. So, we working on it after hours and on weekends to get it off the ground because
we wanted to give back. We wanted to provide kids out there with an opportunity we did not have when we were starting out in this industry. We wanted to make a difference in some kids lives out there that we have never met.
SXH: Obviously its a great opportunity, what is the proposed plan for the winner(s)?
Well, for the 10 runner ups besides the prizes listed they will get professional mentoring from Nike Designers to help them improve their skills and to prepare them for either college or next years competition. In my opinion this is priceless knowledge that they will get for free which is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The 2 finalist will not only get that same mentoring but they will be flown to Nike’s headquarters here in Beaverton, Oregon to get tour of the campus, meet Nike’s Designers, maybe see some new products that don’t come out until next year, shop at our employee store and a few other surprises.
Our ultimate goal for everyone that enters this competition is to introduce them to a possible career in Footwear design and if this their passion and if they have talent we want to make sure they get the knowledge to prepare for college and select the right college and hopefully down the road get a job at Nike.
SXH: To progress and continue to develop Nike is very important do you expect the winner to be influential in the future as the like of Tinker Hatfield, Tom Luedecke, Bruce Kilgore and such names?
Answer:Most definitely, I hope so. I mean there are several Nike Designers that never really thought they would be doing what they are doing today including myself. This was my dream since I was 11 but I never really thought I would fulfill it. This competition provides kids out there and opportunity to fulfill their dreams…
SXH: Thanks again for taking the time out to talk do you have any last words for anyone submitting design’s for the competition.
Man, thank you VERY much for allowing me to share this competition with your readers. I really appreciate you doing this for us.
The first bit of advice would be please use the templates provided on the site. These are great guides to help you design a shoe that looks like a real shoe. Secondly, thank you all that enter and I hope that we get a chance to work together one day.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to everyone that has been apart of making this competition become reality. A lot of people have put in long hours, done things for us for free that would have cost thousands of dollars, we called on special favors to get the word out and to Melo for supporting it for us. We we able to get a lot done on no budget all to change kids lives and I pray that all of you kids out there take advantage of this opportunity.
Nike Future Sole Competition Details:
The Nike Future Sole competition began on January the 1st 2008 and you have 90 days to submit three designs then the finalists will be named on May the 15th 2008 before the winner is named on July the 15th 2008. To sign up and be involved all you need to do is go to the Nike Future Sole website and fill out the registration form.