Gary Vaynerchuk—famed entrepreneur and social media extraordinaire—is dipping his toe into fashion. The media mogul collaborated with K-Swiss to create two original sneakers: GaryVee 001s and 002s. The 001s are Vee's take on the Court Frasco style, and the 002s are an Icon Knit. He revealed them officially at ComplexCon earlier this month. Jonathan Evans caught up with Gary Vee to talk about sneaker culture, modern entrepreneurship, and what it's like to be the one sneakerhead.
On exploring fashion as a creative outlet
I've been thinking a lot about how interesting, exciting, wild, and weird it is that entrepreneurship has become this cultural pillar in pop culture. My Spidey senses are always sensitive to opportunities to break into new ground on the back of what's happening with entrepreneurship. Being 42—you know, on the verge of being 42—and growing up on the East Coast, sneaker culture is kind of very top of mind for me. So working with K-Swiss was super intuitive; I was like, "This is a meeting I want to take."
On creating the shoe
A funny thing happens when I'm collaborating: If I know something, I'm really hardcore about it, and if I know nothing about a genre then I get really quiet. I was kind of more reactive to this. They showed me designs. They kind of showed me what we could do, and I was kind of more in the "yes, yes, yes," let me learn [what makes up] the sneaker I would wear. The green was a non-debate because I have to always give a nod to New York Jets, so my first book, my first sneaker, everything will always have green into it. I'm really kind of thriving now. Going into it, you're learning the shapes and sizes and fabrics and colors, so I knew maybe 50 percent on this one, and I'll know 100 percent going forward.
On the modern creative
There used to be an old adage that rappers wanted to be athletes and athletes wanted to be rappers. I think what's happening now is that rappers want to be athletes and athletes want to be rappers, but they both want to be entrepreneurs. There is clearly a very obvious current in society right now that, whether you call it entrepreneurial or hip-hop or urban or youth or millennial, there is enormous ambition across a lot of people under 40 years set to be a successful entrepreneur. And I think a lot of the entrepreneurs that look like me and I see them every day, 35 to 45, that have some traction, all of us were so impacted by street or urban or sports. We’re the byproducts of the '80s and '90s explosion of marketing and culture shifts, so there's a connection with the audience that's very real.
On the importance of sneakers
I think it comes down to the basic human need to communicate to other human beings, and shoes are such a glaring way to do that. If you really think about it, there are four pillars of a person: There's your head, your chest, your legs, and your feet. I think it's of those four where you get a canvas to tell the world who you are and what you're about at that moment. And I think a lot of people are captivated by the feet part of this all.
By Jonathan Evans