Talk about starting with a slam dunk.
With LeBron James on the cover and featuring his first dedicated sneaker interview, Yu-Ming Wu’s Sneaker News print edition is aiming high.
Wu’s also enlisted co-editor-in-chief Aaron Kr, highly respected designer/typographer Pablo Medina and Kevin Brainard to give the magazine a prestige lifestyle positioning. Priced at $10 and out on Black Friday at select sneaker stores and online (a notoriously important day in the #sneakerhead world), FN got a first look at this #FNsneakertakeover subject and multi-hyphenate editor-in-chief (his other job titles include: co-founder and publisher, Freshness Mag; Publisher, Sneaker News; Founder, Sneaker Con) on his ambitious project and why this is just the beginning.
How did this project come about?
“This has been in my mind for three years. I was thinking about what else we could do in the sneaker world and what’s next. I wanted something a little more physical. We felt a need to showcase our creativity in the sneaker world. When we try and do it online, that content quickly disappears, with this we get to freeze time and make something you can hold onto. That said, print has been a very big learning experience for me.
What differentiates this from other sneaker publications out there?
Almost 80 percent of the magazine is original photography, illustrators and art. It was envisioned to be something more like a book that you keep. Our tag line is that it’s a premium creative and collectible magazine. If you look at the cover, it’s very clean and simple, with no prices and even LeBron’s name is not called out. We went to the top when it comes to people I involved in the project and the paper. Kevin Brainard helped us in the concept and production phase as well. He recently redesigned Martha Stewart Living, a magazine I collected all through college.
Wait, what? That’s surprising. Do you want to be the Martha Stewart of the sneaker world?
[Laughs] I don’t think that’s my goal, but she inspired me to think a little bit past the everyday sneaker magazine. Her vision and creativity are all put into the magazine. Her point of view, layouts and how beautifully everything was shot was always really inspiring to me, even if the content wasn’t exactly my thing.
The first cover subject is incredibly important when launching a new magazine. How did you secure LeBron James?
Figuring out the cover was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done — what it’s going to look like and say about our brand. We decided on LeBron because I think he is this generation’s greatest athlete, similar to the ’90s where Michael Jordan was the athlete on everyone’s mind. Today, he is that person and relevant to our target readers who are young adults and look up to him.
He’s the biggest name in sports and sneakers at the moment, so it was our goal to get him. We had him shot in China while he was traveling. There were quite a few hoops we had to jump through. He was very nice to give us his time — I believe this is his first time he’s ever done an interview surrounding sneakers.
What are your goals for the future?
We want to show the world that we’re not just some sneaker blog working out of my mom’s basement. For future covers, we are working on Michael Jordan, as it’s the 30th anniversary of the Jordan brand. We’re also looking at Kanye, who next year will finally release his new collection for Adidas. Those are our dream gets.
What is it about Kanye? Why does he have so much influence in the sneaker world? The same cannot necessarily be said for the fashion world, where his work hasn’t been so well received.
I think Kanye is one of the hardest working creative minds on the planet. He’s constantly thinking about what’s next.