How Rap Star Joey Bada$$ Will Make Sneaker Fans Love Pony Again

Pony was born in New York in the 1970s, and after some time out of the sneaker spotlight, it’s looking to become a go-to brand once again for style-conscious consumers. To assist in Pony’s relaunch, it has tapped a music star with strong ties to the Big Apple: rap phenom Joey Bada$$.

The 22-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native will lead Pony’s fall campaign and help the brand showcase its classic Topstar silhouette. (Pony’s latest collection, which includes that and other updated heritage looks, will be available this week at retailers including Urban Outfitters and Zumiez.) And for the holiday run, the rapper will have his own three-shoe collection hit retail.

Hours before his performance last week at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Joey Bada$$ spoke exclusively with Footwear News about linking up with Pony, being the brand’s Topstar model and what his collaborative line will look like.

Why does it make sense for you to team up with Pony?

“We’ve been plotting this for some time now, and the connection was like, ‘Duh.’ ‘Pony’ stands for Product of New York. Here, you have two products of New York. Pony, to me, is an OG brand, and a lot of people look at my style as an OG style, something that’s been aged and been around for a little time. We immediately identified with the synergy between both brands. This was a no-brainer.”

How did the connection with Pony come about?

“We had some common people in both of our corners. When I was 17, I was the creative director of Ecko, and Ecko and Pony are both owned by Iconix [Brand Group Inc.]. The relationships were already established, and when it came to Pony and them looking for someone to collaborate with, Joey Bada$$’ name was at the top of the list.”

What made being part of the brand’s relaunch so special?

“I’m a fan of synergy, I’m a fan of when things glue together, when it’s a no-brainer, when you don’t have to over think it. For me, I was excited to do this, period. When it came to the pieces and the products, we put calculated thought into that too, and I’m also excited for what we produced.”

What makes Pony so important to New York sneaker culture?

“We are the mecca of a lot of s**t, we started a lot of s**t. When it comes to OG lifestyle brands, we gravitate to those a lot. It’s a product of New York — need I say more? That’s what the brand is called.”

How can Pony once again be a go-to brand for sneaker fans?

“It takes time, planning and the right people in place.”

Joey Bada$$ Pony Topstar
One new iteration of the Pony Topstar.

What makes Pony’s classic Topstar sneaker a must-have for today’s consumer?

“It’s a classic kick. I’m a super-big fan of the [Adidas] Stan Smith. The Topstar is like that but with a higher-scale edge to it — the way the chevron is perforated, it’s got that upscale look to it. It looks like a luxury Stan Smith, in my opinion. Stan Smith, it’s street, urban. You wouldn’t wear Stan Smiths to go the Grammys. I’d wear the Topstar to the Grammys, though, with a good suit.”

What details can you give about the collection you designed with Pony?

“I brought my design team, and we met with the Pony design team, we sat down and traded ideas back and forth. We were just exchanging files and ideas until we got married to the right ones.

“Just to give you a little insight, which makes total sense because we’re in the Barclays Center today, we did three different styles. One style that we did, we took the colorways of each New York home team — hockey, football, basketball — any professional New York team, we took those colorways and dedicated a sneaker to those teams. We’re in the home of the Brooklyn Nets right now; we did one for them. We wanted to pay homage to the city. It’s one style of shoe in three different colorways for three different teams.”

Can you see Pony as your long-term home?

“I definitely would like to think so. Product of New York, that’s what I already am, I can’t fake that. I would love for us to figure out some form of long-term relationship.”

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