Conversations about HIV/AIDS aren’t comfortable, but with roughly 37 million people living with the disease worldwide and no cure available, they are a necessity to have. Chase Ceparano, co-owner of Huntington, N.Y.-based lifestyle boutique retailer Rise, hopes to make discussion around the disease more palatable through a limited edition sneaker release with Puma.
New York Is For Lovers, using Puma’s Blaze of Glory silhouette, will be released on Dec. 1 (recognized as World AIDS Day) and retail for $145. For its initial launch, the shoe will be available via a New York City popup shop located at 345 Broome Street, Rise, and the retailer’s website, Rise45.com. Following the initial launch, the shoe will be available at select retailers worldwide.
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HIV/AIDS awareness is a subject close to Ceparano, who lost his father to the disease in 1994. Ceparano said using Rise’s eventual notoriety to bring awareness to the cause has been his plan since deciding to open the store in 2013.
“A good friend told me, ‘There’s no such thing as not doing enough good.’ That really sits with me,” he said. “When all of us have our day we’d like to be known as good people. Having the opportunity to be in this position, communicate the story and help others is everything to me.”
Although the sneaker has been the medium for other retailer collaborations, the New York Is For Lovers iteration has distinguished characteristics that make it distinguishable from others, including a heel panel with perforated heart shapes backed with 3M, custom black and red “NYIFL” and HIV/AIDS ribbon lace dubraes, and premium leather throughout the upper.
Ceparano, who presented the shoe and marketing concept to Puma at a dinner at Las Vegas, said the brand was the perfect collaborator for his vision.
“Some brands will just eye roll you in the room, won’t even give you the time of day on it, because it’s not something they can see themselves aligning with,” he said. “It takes an extraordinary partner to see the vision and the trust in me to tell the story the proper way. I’m very happy with how the product has come out and I think a lot of folks are going to appreciate the story as well as the product once they see the 360 [degree] view of it.”
Aside from the sneaker release, Ceparano and Puma will donate $15,000 to amfAR, a non-profit organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS research.